Below is the text of a speech delivered by Central City, Nebraska native and American University student Suzanne Polzkill at last weekend’s Keystone XL protest outside of the White House.
My name is Suzanne Polzkill. I’m beginning my second semester as a student at American University here in D.C., but my home is in Central City, Nebraska.
Before the Keystone XL pipeline, many people knew nothing about Nebraska. We’re used to jokes about riding cows to school and not having electricity, and you calling it a “flyover state” won’t hurt our feelings. We’ve received some recent media attention about our Supreme Court and our Aquifer, but today I’d like to tell you all about what I think it means to be a Nebraskan.
For one thing, we’re friendly.
In Nebraska, you smile and wave to people you make eye contact with. When a person asks how you are, they expect you to answer them. We treat our neighbors as our family and everybody as our neighbor.
But please, don’t confuse this kindness for stupidity. Do not mistake geniality for weakness. We don’t like to be lied to.
You see, lies come in big numbers like 42000 jobs.
Lies come in pretty words like “safe” and “minimal environmental impact”
Lies come in unsubstantiated claims of eminent domain for a project that is in none of our interests.
We live in a very red state, but this is not a partisan issue. This isn’t republican versus democrat. This is about TransCanada versus our neighbors. This is profit versus people.
Nebraskans love where we are from. We wouldn’t deal with the weather if we didn’t absolutely love it. That’s why we have been fighting so hard to save it. Still, one by one, our elected officials have turned their backs on us. We’re here today because our governor has handed away our property rights to the highest bidder, because the majority of justices in our Supreme Court was not quite enough to keep us safe from what anybody could recognize as an abuse of power. We’re here today because Congress continues to push climate issues to the next generation, because they don’t understand that if we don’t stand up for ourselves now, we might not get another chance. We’re here today because President Obama has the tools that he needs to help us protect us from the greed of TransCanada.
Nebraskans are fighters, and we cannot win this fight unless the President stands firmly with the people in the path – unless he rejects the pipeline.