At noon, on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 over 100 Nebraskans gathered on the state capitol steps to ask our state elected officials to protect our land and water from TransCanada’s oil pipelines.
A broad array of individuals and groups were there to support protecting Nebraska’s water, including farmers, ranchers, urban dwellers, Bold Nebraska, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraska Farmers Union, Audubon Nebraska, League of Conservation Voters, Nebraska Green Party, Guardians of the Good Life, Nebraskans for Peace and the Nebraska chapter of 350.org.
A video of the rally and the speakers can be found at Bold Nebraska’s YouTube site.
Still pictures from the event can be found in two locations:
Nebraskans for Peace’s facebook page. If pictures are used on blogs or in print articles, credit should be given to photographer, Mark Welsch. He may be contacted at nfpomaha@Nebraskansforpeace.org if a higher quality picture is needed.
While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is responsible for granting or denying a permit to TransCanada to build a second pipeline across our state, this time crossing the fragile ecosystem of the Sandhills and the precious Ogallala Aquifer, our state elected officials have a role in other key areas.
Our Nebraska state elected officials, our senators, Governor Heineman and Attorney General Bruning have a role in:
- Siting and routing of pipelines
- Eminent domain process and terms
- Easement abandonment of unused/out of service pipe
- Emergency response planning
- Liability for spills
- Regulation of neighboring land uses
They will have that role only if the legislature passes, and the Governor signs legislation giving them that power. Without these needed, common sense laws, our elected officials will allow the federal government and a foreign Canadian company to run roughshod over Nebraskans.
At the Capitol rally, Lancaster County Farmers Union President Wayne Frost from Saint Paul Nebraska, said that landowners, just this week, got more threats from TransCanada representatives about eminent domain taking their land, even though a permit has not been granted for this risky pipeline. This foreign company has seven people attempting to strong-arm Nebraskans into allowing them to put the tarsands pipeline on their land. Tarsands is the most polluting type of fuel in the world. Without a permit this foreign company has no right to even ask for eminent domain condemnation of ranchers’ and farmers’ land.
Mary Pipher, renowned author, speaker and organizer, said, “I’m a granddaughter of sodbusters. My great-grandparents homesteaded in Hitchcock County. Three of my grandchildren live in Merrick County, only a few miles from the proposed site of pipeline. Fighting this pipeline is not about politics. It is about protecting our homeland. On this issue, Republicans and Democrats, country people and city dwellers, business owners and ranchers are all in the same family. We are the family of people who live on the Great Plains. Ordinary Nebraskans are up against a powerful international corporation, who only wants to use our home to make money for their stockholders and executives. They do not care about our heritage or our ability to make a living or maintain our way of life. They do not care if our children drink from poisoned wells or develop cancer. They do not care if the pipeline endangers the aquifer or pollutes our ranches and farmland. They do not care because they are not Nebraskans. They do not live here and will not suffer serious consequences if things go wrong. We Nebraskans, including our legislators and Governor have the right to control and protect our homelands.”
Ms. Pipher concluded with, “Passive resignation will not save us. All Nebraskans must unite to say NO to the XL pipeline. We have a common cause. We are a family of people who live on the Great Plains. We will not let outsiders take our land and ruin it. I’m quoting President Abe Lincoln again, ‘The struggle of today is not all together for today but for the vast future also.’ We will work together to give our grandchildren a better life. Let’s get to work, together we can do this.”
Jane Kleeb said, “Over 800 Nebraskans have signed a petition saying they do not want a risky pipeline crossing the Sandhills and our land. We are all watching to see if our state elected officials lead on this issue or allow a foreign company to bully landowners and threaten our main water source.” She concluded with, “Common sense as well as a vision for America being energy independent leaves us with one word for the pipeline, NO.”
After the rally, citizens visited and gave many state senators a plush Meadowlark toy, donated by Audubon Nebraska, that had a USB drive around its neck filled with up-to-date information and reports on the pipeline. This information is available on Bold Nebraska’s Pipeline Resource page.
Our officials have the power to protect us from a foreign country’s corporation that is willing to risk our state’s health, safety, productivity and beauty in order to make money for their executives. We need bills passed this year to ensure the current Keystone pipeline is safe, any future ones do not cross sensitive areas and that our water, landowners, towns and way of life are protected.
Our elected officials must advocate to our federal government on behalf of the people of Nebraska. Every citizen in this state can unite to protect Nebraska from the pollution, carcinogens and economic loss this pipeline would cause. Our quality of life is at stake.