Below is today’s editorial from the Lincoln Journal Star. Everyone who wrote letters, called your senators, attended rallies, shined lights, carved pumpkins, and put up yard signs should take a bow, as should the Journal Star editorial board who has provided outstanding coverage and asked the hard questions from day one.
Take a Bow on Pipeline
So who gets credit for moving the Keystone XL pipeline out of the Sandhills?
How about Flat Randy?
The cardboard cutout of Merrick County landowner and pipeline opponent Randy Thompson sure got around to a lot of venues. At the very least he deserves a mention.
So do Nebraska football fans. When boos went up at the sight of a TransCanada advertisement at a Husker football game, political seismometers went off all over the state.
Gov. Dave Heineman thinks he ought to get some credit.
“If we hadn’t had the special session, I doubt we’d be standing here today,” he said on Tuesday after the agreement was announced.
He’s quite probably right.
After all, even the U.S. State Department cited the special session when it announced a delay in approval of the pipeline permit to allow for further study of alternate routes.
And if the Obama administration had not announced the delay, Speaker Mike Flood may never have had the leverage to broker the deal to move the pipeline.
No need to stop there, however. In fact it seems like an opportune moment to survey the motley group that came together to defend the Sandhills. They may never find themselves on the same side of an issue again.
At the heart of the opposition, obviously, were the Sandhills residents themselves. Their spirited opposition gave the opposition an authenticity that otherwise could never had been achieved.
And how about Sen. Mike Johanns? An early opponent to the Sandhills route, Johanns suggested to the State Department that it hold a hearing in the Sandhills, and federal officials took him up on it. Other members of the Congressional delegation raising concerns were Sen. Ben Nelson and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.
Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm persisted through lonely weeks in making sure that no one forgot the possibility that the Legislature could hold a special session on the pipeline. Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton worked for months on a bill to give the state authority to regulate pipelines. It was ready when the moment arrived.
The list of credits includes Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, Ken Winston of the Sierra Club, Duane Hovorka of the Wildlife Federation and John Hansen of the Nebraska Farmers Union.
Key to applying the pressure that made it politically advantageous to the Obama administration to delay a final pipeline decision until after the election was the national base of environmental activists, which demonstrated and had themselves arrested for the cause. Kleeb made sure the list of those hauled away included a selection of Nebraskans.
The list of those who did their part is a long one. How about all those who wrote letters to the editor, or, like National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, wrote Local View columns for the Journal Star?
Each individual made a difference. They all were part of a remarkable moment in Nebraska history. If events play out as planned, with the pipeline route moved and the state acquiring new authority to regulate crude oil pipelines, everyone who was part of the effort should take a bow.