Solar XL installation #2 at Diana and Byron “Stix” Steskals’ Prairierose Farm near Atkinson, NE on Sept. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alex Matzke)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 18, 2017

Contact:
Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska, 402-705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska, mark@boldnebraska.org
Dani Heffernan, 350.org, 305-992-1544, dani@350.org

Second Nebraska Family Installs Solar in the Path of Keystone XL Pipeline

Solar installed on Diana & Byron “Stix” Steskal family’s Prairierose Farm near Atkinson

Atkinson, NE — On Saturday, September 16th, the “Solar XL” project completed the second installation of solar panels with Nebraska landowners in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — on the family land of Diana and Byron “Stix” Steskal that they named Prairierose Farm, near Atkinson, NE.

The family partnered with Solar XL project sponsors Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

***Photos of Solar XL and landowners for download & use with attribution:***
https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/albums/72157689237546005

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign (See: http://bit.ly/solarxl). The Solar XL panels, which have now been installed in three locations along the pipeline route, serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and were installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first “Solar XL” installation in the path of KXL was erected on July 29th on the farm of Jim and Chris Carlson — who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard. The third Solar XL installation will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission is currently considering whether to deny, approve or re-route TransCanada’s application for a permit to use eminent domain for private gain and build Keystone XL through Nebraska, and is expected to issue its ruling by Nov. 23rd. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.

Byron “Stix” Steskal, landowner installing solar on land inside KXL route:
“We’re proud to be able to provide more clean solar energy to the Nebraska grid while resisting the KXL pipeline that threatens our land, water and livelihoods,” said Nebraska landowner Byron “Stix” Steskal, who with his wife Diana owns Prairierose Farm near Atkinson, NE. “We’ll be adding to the over 200 wind turbines you can see on the horizon to the east of our farm, and to the soybeans we grow that become soy diesel and our corn that becomes ethanol — all local sources of renewable energy for Nebraska that TransCanada’s tarsands export pipeline would never provide.”

Jim Knopik, solar installer, North Star Solar Bears, LLC:
“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

Jane Kleeb, president, Bold Alliance:
“The very thought of a big corporation using eminent domain for their private gain makes Nebraskans angry and inspires our creativity and grit to stop this risky pipeline. We used 100% made-in-the-USA materials, and a small family-run company to install these solar panels. The Solar XL project is a reminder of the people power that will stop this pipeline.”

Sara Shor, Keep it in the Ground Campaign Manager, 350.org:
“Solar XL is about showing what’s possible at a massive scale — a renewable energy economy that doesn’t sacrifice our communities or our climate. Putting solar panels in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline will help power the homes of Nebraskans refusing to give in to the fossil fuel industry’s greed. This August, farmers, Indigenous peoples, and many more communities living along the proposed Keystone XL route will be in Nebraska to urge the commissioners to deny a permit for the project. This is a fight for our future. We must resist Keystone XL and all new fossil fuel infrastructure while building our way towards a renewable energy economy that works for all.”

Joye Braun, Indigenous Environmental Network:
“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed.”

David Turnbull, Campaigns Director, Oil Change International:
“Keystone XL would be a disaster for our climate and communities, and what’s more TransCanada’s own CEO questions whether there’s even demand for it in the first place. There’s simply no reason to build this dangerous pipeline and put us all at risk. Meanwhile, this new solar installation is a shining example of creative and determined resistance to Big Oil bullying. Landowners up and down the Keystone XL route have shown impressive determination to stop this pipeline for years, and with Solar XL, they’re building the future we all need at the same time.”

Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director, CREDO:
“The solar panels being installed on the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline should serve as a powerful reminder of the fierce opposition this pipeline has faced for the past seven years. They also show that our march toward clean energy will move forward despite the best efforts of Donald Trump and his Big Oil cronies to keep us wedded to the dirty energy sources of the past. CREDO is proud to stand with and support the landowners and indigenous people on the pipeline route who are leading the opposition to Keystone XL.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:
http://boldnebraska.org/solarxl

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