As the Senate once again prepares to take a vote on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Nebraska voices will remind Senators that states’ rights are at stake, and that a vote for Keystone XL is a vote to disregard Nebraska’s legal process.

Nebraska rancher Randy (“Stand With Randy”) Thompson penned this open letter (below) to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, April 30. Thompson has been a key rural voice against Keystone XL — he was arrested along with others in a civil disobedience action at the White House protesting Keystone XL in 2013, and is one of the three landowner plaintiffs in Thompson v. Heineman, the lawsuit that successfully challenged the constitutionality of the KXL routing process in Nebraska, leaving TransCanada with no legal route or eminent domain power.


Dear Honorable Members of the Senate,

As you prepare to take a vote on Keystone XL, I want to remind you what is at stake for those of us along the proposed pipeline route. When the political pundits move on to another debate, our families will still be here defending our property rights and clean water.

TransCanada has no legal route for their pipeline in Nebraska. Citizens took Gov. Heineman to court for violating our state constitution and we won.

The Governor is now trying to get the decision overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court, but that does not magically give TransCanada their route back. Today, they have no route and over 115 landowners are refusing to sign with TransCanada in order to protect their water and property rights.

As a Nebraskan, I urge you to vote against the Keystone XL bill—and instead vote in favor of American landowners.

You can vote against the Keystone XL bill and still support the pipeline. I certainly don’t agree with President Obama on everything he does, but I stand with him today on his decision to delay Keystone XL until all legal issues are resolved—and I ask you to do the same.

American landowners are fighting tooth and nail to protect our constitutionally-protected property rights against a foreign corporation who wants to take our land. TransCanada disregards our American dream, and a vote for this pipeline bill would do the same.

TransCanada has spent millions of dollars to tell you and your staff that their pipeline is good for America. From one American to another, though, I must tell you that they have been misleading you and misleading the public. Keystone XL will pollute our water, pollute our air, and tarnish our American values by prioritizing Big Oil over American citizens.

We are asking that you stand with us in defense of both property rights and Nebraska’s state rights by voting no on the Keystone XL pipeline bill. You must remember that there is no legal route in Nebraska. Governor Heineman used an unconstitutional law to take authority away from the Public Service Commission and instead give his office pipeline siting and eminent domain authority. That decision was a direct violation of our state constitution and the judge agreed with us.

Last week while you were home with your family, Nebraska farmers and ranchers stood side-by-side with tribal leaders in DC to ask elected officials like you to protect our land, water and future generations. Not only is tar sands more carbon intensive than traditional crude oil, it is also far more difficult—and more expensive—to clean when it spills. The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the country’s largest sources of freshwater; even a small leak in the aquifer, our rivers or a family’s water well will have devastating consequences for our agriculture and ranching, and for every family that relies on clean water for their livelihoods.

Please think about us as you make a decision on how to vote regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. We do not have the millions to spend on TV ads and lobby campaigns. But we have our stories, we have our voices and we have our pride in the land that was passed down to us through generations.

We invite you to visit with us at our farms and ranches. We can also come to DC to meet with you and discuss the heavy-handed tactics TransCanada has used in our states, their threats of eminent domain and the very one-sided contract they force on to our families.

I once said at a rally and now many of us remind folks often of this simple fact—there is no red or blue water, only clean or polluted. Ignore the color of your party on this one. Stand with our families.

—Randy Thompson

Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson (Photo by Alex Matzke / Bold Nebraska)