This past week, two of our federal representatives made it clear where they stand on the Keystone XL pipeline.  Instead of listening to the concerns of Nebraskans, they are both sponsoring bills that would speed up the permiting process.

For months, Senator Johanns spoke to the public and sent letters to Sec. Clinton saying we need more studies, more time and more protection for the Sandhills.

Rep. Terry requested the Congressional Research Service Memo that clarifies Nebraska’s role in routing pipelines.  The memo proves that our elected officials, like Heineman and our state senators, can decide that the pipeline should not cross the Sandhills or parts of the Ogallala aquifer.

Then, in what feels like a slap in the face, both Johanns and Terry have decided to sponsor bills that require the State Department to accelerate the permiting process.  The bill Johanns is sponsoring is part of a larger piece of energy legislation.  Terry’s is all about expediting the pipeline permit.

When questioned about this move, both members essentially said that just because they sponsor these bills, does not mean they support the pipeline.  Johanns may think it’s ok to make this case because the pipeline is just a piece of the overall legislation.  But the bill Terry is sponsoring is all about getting the pipeline built.

If either of these legislators is truly serious about protecting Nebraskans and our natural resources, then they should pull their support from these misguided bills and instead sponsor bills that require actual studies on the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer that mandate the use of experts from places like the University of Nebraska. Or they could sponsor a bill that names the Sandhills a national park, a high risk ecosystem or some similar designation that would protect it from hazardous oil pipelines.

Sponsoring legislation that expedites the permitting process is simply the wrong way to go. Whether your support or oppose the pipeline (we obviously oppose), we can all agree that oversight and careful contemplation is needed.

Call Terry (202) 225-4155 and ask him to pull his support of the House bill to expedite the State Dept.’s analysis.  Encourage him instead to write bills that require more studies and a detailed plan to re-route the pipeline out of the Sandhills.

Call Johanns (202) 224-4224 and urge him to step away from the dark side.  Until now, he’s been a compelling advocate for landowners and has urged careful review of this project.  Tell him to pull his support from this bill and introduce legislation that requires more studies and protects the Ogallala Aquifer.

As landowner Randy Thomspon likes to tell us, “Politicians are like a pile of hay bales, most of them are still good, but sometimes, especially the ones on top, succumb to the elements.”