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PRESS RELEASE: Keystone XL Rejection a Historic Victory for Citizens Protecting Our Land, Water and Climate

Byron & Diane Steskal

Byron & Diane Steskal, who were among the Nebraska landowners who sued TransCanada over eminent domain to stop Keystone XL. (Photo by J Grace Young for Bold Nebraska)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 6, 2015

Contact:
Jane Kleeb, jane@boldnebraska.org, 402-705-3622
Mark Hefflinger, mark@boldnebraska.org

Keystone XL Rejection a Historic Victory for Citizens
Protecting Our Land, Water and Climate

Lincoln, NE — Today, President Obama stood with citizens to protect our land, water and climate by rejecting the Keystone XL national permit. This is the first time a President has rejected a fossil fuel project based on climate change.

The pipeline’s rejection marks an historic victory for farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations and the unlikely alliance that formed to fight this uphill, six-year battle that no one believed we’d ever win.

Ground zero of resistance to the risky pipeline was the farms and ranches in Nebraska where landowners organized together over shared concerns about a toxic tarsands spill that could contaminate fragile Sandhills soil and the precious Ogallala Aquifer, which provides millions with drinking water and the region’s main source of irrigation.

Quotes from Nebraska Leaders and Landowners:

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska Director: “We stood our ground and today President Obama stood with us, the pipeline fighters. Tonight landowners can finally go to sleep knowing their family is safe and sound. Our unlikely alliance showed America that hard work and scientific facts can beat Big Oil’s threat to our land and water.”

Randy Thompson, Nebraska rancher: “President Obama’s decision is courageous and historic. He did what was right in the face of a totally misguided and unrelenting effort by the Republican party and Big Oil to shove this pipeline down our throats. History will defend President Obama and our descendants will forever be indebted to him.”

John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union President: “President Obama made the right call today. His historic decision is the right decision for our national strategic interests, environment, energy system, directly impacted landowners, and due process. His decision will start the healing process needed to bring the certainty that impacted landowners need and deserve, including both those that did not sign easements as well as those that did. Today, we take off our hat and salute the individuals, organizations, elected public officials, and especially our landowners that have worked so hard on this pipeline issue. Thanks to their efforts, they have changed the course of history to the good.”

Mary Pipher, 350.org Lincoln and author of “The Green Boat”: “Our group and many others have worked for five years for this day. From baking pies for politicians—even when they did not earn them yet—to rocking our grandkids while reading books about protecting the water, we organized our neighbors to connect and act. Our state was pivotal in stopping the KXL and we are proud and happy today. Bravo, President Obama, for doing the right thing.”

Duane Hovorka, Nebraska Wildlife Federation: “The decision is a big win for wildlife and people. Nebraska’s river and wetlands, Canada’s boreal forests, and our cranes, ducks, geese and other migrating birds will all benefit from having this project killed. Whether you are a Sandhills rancher or just someone who loves birds and clean water, this decision is one to celebrate.”

David Corbin, 350.org Nebraska: “350.org Nebraska is proud to have played a role in stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline. This diverse movement represents protectors of water, land, air, health, and basic human and property rights. There is a new energy paradigm that is emerging that decentralizes energy production with far fewer adverse effects on human health and the environment. 350.org Nebraska is grateful to President Obama for this momentous decision. We take pride in the prominent role that Nebraska played in having our voices heard, nationally, and throughout the world.”

More Background on Nebraska’s Role:
Citizens stood up to a foreign oil corporation, when everyone told us to sit down and sell the land to TransCanada. We stood our ground in the face of pundits and analysts telling us again and again over the years that the pipeline was a “no-brainer” and a “done deal.”

When 98% of our local elected officials in Nebraska ignored our valid concerns about the Sandhills and Ogallala aquifer, Pipeline Fighters took direct action and were arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at the White House, marched in the streets, built a solar barn, created the largest ever political crop art and sent the Cowboy and Indian Alliance to Washington to set up a week-long tipi encampment on the National Mall.

Across six years of this fight, we showed our power by testifying at dozens of hearings on the federal, state and local level; holding hundreds of protests and rallies; we sued the Governor a couple of times; and hosted a benefit concert on a farm with Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, a lynchpin to unlocking Canada’s highly-polluting tarsands, sends a powerful message that he is taking serious action to solve the climate crisis as part of his legacy.

In the end, the Keystone XL pipeline failed the President’s “climate test,” and was not in the nation’s interest because it was all risk and no reward for America.

This unlikely victory proves that, along with their allies, citizens have the power to win these extreme energy and property rights fights. Defeating Keystone XL was a major triumph for citizens over Big Oil; it will not be the last.

Photo Note:
Bold Nebraska has a series of photos that feature landowners and citizens on their land that is now “Protected.” They are posted on Flickr but we can also send you pictures if you have trouble downloading.

On Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/sets/72157651466762566

Photog Credit: J. Grace Young/ Bold Nebraska (unless otherwise noted on picture description)

Additionally, all photos tagged #nokxl across social media platforms from across the United States will appear on www.pipelinefighters.org

Video Note:
Randy Thompson filmed a video thank you message to Pres. Obama and all the pipeline fighters who stood strong all of these years.

On Youtube: https://youtu.be/aGl52qBJR_U

 

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