Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb with rancher Randy Thompson

Nov. 18: Letter from Randy Thompson and Jane Kleeb to Sen. Mitch McConnell

Dear Senator McConnell,

The ink barely dried on the voting ballots before Congress decided that the Keystone XL pipeline was the most pressing issue facing our nation and had to be addressed immediately. Maybe it’s just our Nebraska logic but this is totally absurd.

The pipeline does nothing for Americans and we don’t need it. Aren’t there more pressing issues facing you, Mr. McConnell? It almost makes us suspect that this is payback to Big Oil and the Koch Brothers are for their political investments, and the oil-soaked Members like you can’t wait to start the dance.

We are really sick and tired of being told how safe this project will be by people who live fifteen hundred miles away and are fully insulated from the inherent risks associated with it. Would you be so anxious to vote “yes” if this pipeline were going to run through your property where your family lives, works and plays?

You said the job numbers surrounding the KXL are “stunning.” We agree, they are stunningly insignificant when you consider that this project would create about the same number of permanent jobs as the local grocery store does. It seems ironic that you are extremely concerned about creating these few jobs but have little interest in making sure that all working Americans receive at least a decent minimum wage for their family. You can’t even vote for the basics of requiring TransCanada and other tarsands pipelines to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Fund as American oil companies are required.

As you and your fellow Senators get ready to hold another political vote on Keystone XL, let’s remember what this pipeline is all about. Canada needs to get their dirty tarsands to the export market It’s pretty much landlocked right now and trains won’t get out at the levels they want. Canadian oil producers get the benefit while we take the risk. The United States does not need the oil.

TransCanada wants to cut through our land and water using eminent domain for private gain. The contracts they shove down farmers and ranchers’ throats put liability on the backs of hard-working families. TransCanada’s lobbyists shredded our state constitution, with the majority of our state senators paving the way, for a bill that landed them in the Supreme Court and left them without a legal route in Nebraska.

If TransCanada were building a wind farm with this type of behavior and risk, would you still vote yes?

We are unlikely alliance of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, farmers, ranchers, moms, students, environmentalists, and native communities. Our Cowboy and Indian Alliance is an example of one-time adversaries working together. Maybe Congress should look at something similar when it comes to energy, property rights, climate change and water?

We understand it is not only you pushing for this vote.

Senator Bennet from Colorado should know better. A state once known for their mountains and clean air is getting a reputation for being Big Oil’s next frontier.

Senator Landrieu somehow thinks another ceremonial vote on Keystone XL will help her when instead she should be standing up to Big Oil after they screwed her state’s coast and ruined livelihoods of fishermen.

Senator Tester, a fellow farmer, has confused us from day one with his support knowing there is no guarantee Montana oil will get transported on the KXL line. The oil spill in the Yellowstone River should have been a wake-up call.

And how bizarre that Senator Carper, from a state whose citizens will see zero benefit from this has decided to throw our families in the heartland under the bus.

Our two Senators from Nebraska have lost their way. We have no hope they will stand with our families.

We stand up to Big Oil with President Obama. He is a good man who sees this project for what it is and is pushing for homegrown energy that will actually build our communities, especially here in rural America.

Our families will not watch our land and water get polluted so Canada can get their risky tarsands to the export market.

You oil-soaked Senators should be ashamed of yourselves and if you have the nerve to talk about the constitution or property rights again, we will be there to set the record straight. A vote for Keystone XL is a vote for eminent domain for private gain and a vote to pollute our water.

Standing Up,

Randy Thompson, Republican cattleman
Jane Fleming Kleeb, Democratic mom and head of Bold Nebraska

PS: We hear you want a “bourbon summit” with President Obama. We have some whiskey made with clean water from the Ogallala Aquifer and tarsands-free beef waiting for you here in Nebraska if you have the courage to come visit.