Citizens protest outside Rep. Brad Ashford’s office over his first vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on Jan. 13, 2015 (Photo by Mark Hefflinger)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015

Jane Kleeb, 402-705-3622,

Rep. Ashford Again Sides With Foreign Oil Corp.
Over Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

Votes a second time for bill to approve Keystone XL pipeline

Omaha, NE — Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) today voted for a second time to approve the risky Keystone XL tarsands export pipeline, despite strong opposition from his constituents and a promised veto of the wrong-headed bill by President Obama.

“Rep. Ashford continues to support eminent domain for private gain with his vote for the risky Keystone XL pipeline,” said Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb. “To pretend this massive, foreign tarsands pipeline somehow does not impact climate change or risk our water discounts science and common sense. Farmers and ranchers can only breathe a sign of relief because President Obama will veto this reckless bill.”

Over 3,500 concerned citizens signed a Bold Nebraska petition urging Rep. Ashford to vote against the Keystone XL bill, and dozens braved a freezing January day to show up at his Omaha offices to protest and register their disappointment with Ashford’s staff after his first vote in support of the pipeline.

Rep. Ashford recently stated in a response to a constituent’s letter critical of his support of TransCanada’s Keystone XL that he “will be an active voice in Congress seeking to decrease our energy dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Last time we checked, Canada is a foreign country. Furthermore, the tarsands piped through Keystone XL would be exported to China and the world market and do nothing to serve U.S. energy independence.

Rep. Ashford is also spreading misinformation to his constituents, claiming in a letter that TransCanada “would be held legally and financially liable for any damages incurred as a result of a spill at any point along the route.”

In fact, TransCanada advises landowners to take out liability insurance at their own expense, and does not have a bond in place in Nebraska to cover spill clean-up. Further, since this is a tarsands (vs. traditional oil) pipeline, TransCanada is exempt from paying into the U.S. Oil Spill Liability Fund. Facing huge costs from a spill, the company could conceivably file for bankruptcy in the U.S. and the federal government, landowners and the State of Nebraska would be left holding the bag.

Finally, Ashford makes a false claim in his letter that the 2011 re-route of the pipeline now “avoid[s] the environmentally sensitive Sandhills,” when the State Department’s environmental review of the pipeline even acknowledges this to be untrue. (See page 23, figure 3.3-23: Map of pipeline route crossing soil-based Sandhills:

Rep. Ashford’s constituents and Nebraskans fighting to protect our land, water and climate are deeply disappointed that Ashford has again opted to toss them under the bus and side with the Koch Bros., the GOP and a foreign oil corporation.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 12.43.12 PM
State Department’s map shows Keystone XL route still crosses fragile Sandhills soils (Keystone XL FEIS, p. 23, figure 3.3-23)
KXL still crosses the Sandhills. TransCanada used a map that shrinks this natural resource pretending they are avoiding the Sandhills.
KXL still crosses the Sandhills. TransCanada used a map that shrinks this natural resource pretending they are avoiding the Sandhills.

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