On Tuesday, April 30, 2013, the Holt County Board of Supervisors (in the Sandhills where the proposed pipeline route still crosses) unanimously passed a resolution to prevent all crude oil and tar sands pipelines from crossing the county. Holt is the first county to pass a resolution officially opposing such pipelines.

The resolution initially grew out of opposition to the County Zoning Board’s proposal earlier this spring to cease mailing notifications to affected property owners for proposed county projects. This set off a series of actions by county residents who organized and strategized to send out 150 letters to landowners within two miles of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, encouraging them to attend a board meeting.

In late March, 70 farmers and ranchers took time out of their busiest season of the year to insist that the Holt County Zoning Board retain language concerning the mailing notifications to affected property owners. Members of the zoning board agreed to their demands and sent the proposal to the County Supervisors for approval. The County Board of Supervisors also agreed to retain the language.

Known informally as “The Posse,” this feisty group of dedicated Sandhills ranchers did not stop there. They pushed the board to send a letter to the Department of State or attend the State Department hearing in Grand Island to voice the county’s opposition to Keystone XL crossing its borders. Board members agreed to draft a resolution at their next meeting.

On April 30th—with county residents spilling out of a meeting room at the Holt County Court House—the board unanimously passed a resolution refusing to allow tar sands and crude oil pipelines to traverse the county. The Board wished to make clear their concern that the pipeline poses a threat to the county’s water.

As an indication of how important TransCanada considered the meeting they sent three representatives to voice opposition to the proposed resolution. The Norfolk Daily News reported that Jeff Rauh of TransCanada presented a three-page letter to supervisors, outlining the process the Keystone XL project has undergone.

Once again, ordinary citizens with tremendous heart and dedication led and initiated an action to protect and preserve their land—passed down from generation to generation. These landowners value their heritage and believe in the property rights of US citizens. Unlike TransCanada, these citizens have a vested interest in preserving their livelihoods—and many of them have spent thousands of dollars, out of their own pockets, to stop this risky tar sands pipeline.

This is yet another example of citizens in Nebraska taking the lead against TransCanada and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Nebraskans refuse to allow a foreign corporation to threaten our water resources—so critical to our agricultural way of life—with an experimental tar sands pipeline. This resolution sends a clear message to future pipeline developers: Nebraskans are drawing a line in the Sandhills and standing together against export pipelines in our state. After the meeting, Bruce Boettcher, a member of the Posse, echoed Neil Armstrong. “That’s one small step for man,” he said, “one giant leap for mankind against KXL.”

The Posse, together with other citizen pipeline fighters, will now work together with landowners in other counties along the route to pass similar resolutions.


Please email, call, or write the Holt County Board of Supervisors and let them know you are proud of the citizens who worked with them to ensure that our voices are heard. They are amazing examples of elected officials taking citizens’ concerns seriously. When posting about this story on Facebook and Twitter, please also thank the citizens that worked hard to ensure their voices were heard and represented by elected officials. This is citizen power in action!

Holt County Board of Supervisors

The Board’s email address: holtclerk.cathy@telebeep.com

Ralph Metschke
PO Box 42
Chambers, NE 68725
William Tielke
88154 483 Ave
Atkinson, NE 68713
Don Butterfield
47658 E Pearl
Atkinson, NE 68713
Robert Snyder
205 N State Highway 45 B
Ewing, NE 68735
Donald Hahlbeck
802 E Williams St.
O’Neill, NE 68763
Steven Boshart
49948 878 Rd
O’Neill, NE 68763
Marvin C Scholz
88139 463th Ave
Stuart, NE 68780