Unmoving, at least for this moment, a greater prairie chicken stands at a mating gathering known as a “lek,” at Calamus Outfitters, near Burwell, Nebraska, on the eastern edge of the unique 19,600-square-mile (51,000-square-kilometer) ecosystem called the Sandhills. This native grassland and windswept sand, which covers one-quarter of Nebraska, forced a rethinking of the North American energy future.
Until last fall, it seemed as if the U.S. government was on track to approve the $7 billion construction of a 1,700-mile (2,740-kilometer) pipeline to increase imports dramatically from the oil sands region of Canada and deliver the crude to the refining centers of Texas. But mounting political pressure over the environmental risks of the pipeline route through Nebraska’s Sandhills put the brakes on the project in early November, and the Obama administration formally rejected the proposal Wednesday.
So North America’s energy future was temporarily put on hold due to the environmental risks presented by a proposed 1,700-mile Nebraska pipeline. The halt in the project’s progress has put a renewed focus on the wide-ranging consequences of oil dependence, all due to a prairie and the life it sustains in the middle of the American continent. In light of this situation, National Geographic has put together a stunning photo gallery of the animals, plants, and insects that occupy the grassland and sand hills surrounding the pipeline route. Click on the National Geographic link below to take you to this story.