As Nebraskans celebrate Earth Day, citizens are educating their neighbors and elected officials about the importance of stopping the TransCanada pipeline and passing state-based regulations.
Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI) in 1970 as a result of an oil spill that he was deeply concerned did not get government nor public attention. He organized nationwide teach-ins about the oil spill and the need for laws to protect our nation’s natural resources. Just this past weekend in Stuart, over 150 Nebraskans gathered to learn more about the pipeline and to take action.
“Like Senator Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, we are concerned that when an oil spill happens, our state is not prepared with the basic regulations other states have in place to protect landowners and our natural resources,” said Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska. “We continue our educational outreach with citizens across our state building a diverse coalition with two common goals—stopping TransCanada’s risky pipeline and putting state regulations in place.”
For over a year, citizens, landowners and nonprofits have provided information to state elected officials about what laws other states have passed as well as highlighting the federal Congressional Research Service memo that proves–in clear terms–Nebraska has the ability to re-route oil pipelines out of the fragile and unique Sandhills.
“Earth Day is a reminder that we must act now to protect our natural resources and the interests of Nebraska landowners,” said Ken Winston with the Nebraska Sierra Club. “The one year anniversary of the Gulf Oil spill this week is another reminder of what can happen when there is inadequate oversight of environmentally risky activities like this pipeline. Yet TransCanada continues to oppose even the basic standards of landowner protection contained in LB 629, Senator Sullivan’s priority bill. TransCanada also continues to threaten landowners with eminent domain despite the requests of Senator Johanns and many others for them to cease.”
Three bills that would provide some safeguards and make oil pipeline companies financially responsible are stuck in the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. While many citizens and organizations are working to support advancement of LB 629 to the floor for a full debate, time is running out.
Duane Hovorka, with Nebraska Wildlife Federation, reiterated, “Our State Senators, Governor Heineman and Attorney General Bruning all have a duty to protect landowners and our natural resources. There is no excuse for the Natural Resources Committee to hold the bills; it’s time to allow the bills a full debate.”
Groups and citizens are hosting information booths at the Lincoln and Omaha Earth Day celebrations. Postcards, one calling on Senator Clinton to deny a permit to TransCanada and another asking Governor Heineman to support state regulations, will be available for citizens to sign. Action guides, yard signs and bumper stickers will also be available at the Earth Day booths (in Lincoln information will be at the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and in Omaha at the Guardians of the Good Life booth).
Additionally, groups are inviting Secretary Clinton and her staff to visit the Sandhills so they can meet landowners and citizens and see the unique ecosystem and water resources. Nebraskans can comment on the pipeline and encourage Sec. Clinton to visit Nebraska at http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov.