Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska and Casey Camp of the Ponca Nation at Reject + Protect (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska and Casey Camp of the Ponca Nation at Reject + Protect (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)

TransCanada’s latest Hail Mary has many people scratching their heads.

For those of us on the ground, we see through their antics. Our formal press release is below, but I want to take this opportunity to peel back some of the curtain on TransCanada.

This is a LONG read! Before you dig in, make sure to RSVP to stand with landowners on Oct. 19th when they still go to court over eminent domain and the illegal routing process used by TransCanada.

Here is the bottom line: TransCanada can not use eminent domain for at least 2 years because of a Nebraska law that makes it clear once you invoke eminent domain (which they did months ago) and then abandon eminent domain (which they did last week), you can not use those powers again for at least 2 years.

On top of those 2 years, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) process, that TransCanada magically now wants to go through, will take at least 7 months and probably more like a year. On top of that now 3 years, if the PSC decides to alter the route, the State Department would also have to study the revised route which would take at least another 6 months and maybe more. So, even if things all go TransCanada’s way, you are looking at 2018 before the paperwork is completed.

Pres. Obama does not have to wait on Nebraska again. President Obama will not hand this off to the next President. He has all the legal, scientific and moral ground he needs to reject the permit now.

Some obvious questions I am sure (or I hope!) the TransCanada board is now asking their CEO:

  • Will TransCanada’s “committed shippers” wait until 2018 knowing, even if they wait, it is not a sure bet they will get a green light? Or, have they already given up? We don’t know since TC won’t tell anyone.
  • Will the labor union contracts be renewed (again) and will the labor unions even want to?
  • Will contracts with emergency response equipment providers be renewed?
  • Will counties that signed road haul and other contracts with Transcanada, before they had all the information, decide to take a different course now requiring things like bonds, abandonment reclamation, spill response equipment in the county borders, etc?
  • Will the foreign-sourced steel pipes, that have been rusting and sitting out in the snow and heat for several years, be replaced, or would TransCanada attempt to use the junk pipe shown to be defective in TX and other parts of Keystone 1 and Keystone South?
  • Will the price of oil make this pipeline unprofitable (since that is today’s reality for all tarsands pipeline proposals)?
  • Will climate agreements in Paris make digging up tarsands, one of the most carbon intensive and water polluting forms of oil around, a dead end?
  • How did you let a bunch of farmers and ranchers, along with Native and environmental allies, out work you?
  • What does the oil and gas industry do now, given the status quo of pipeline permits is now changed forever?

Last week, in an abrupt and unexpected move, TransCanada decided they now want to play by the rules, rather than writing their own laws and paying off politicians along the way. So, they applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission this week with a 68-page application.

They give the PSC a few routes for their risky pipeline, just like they have in other applications.

All three of the proposed routes still cross the Sandhills. If you use a soil map — not a wildlife map like Gov. Heineman did — which allowed TransCanada to pretend in the press and public they were doing the right thing. Even in Transcanada’s initial application to the State Department in 2008, before the uprising happened against the pipeline, they have several maps showing the real Sandhills. It was not until we took issue with them cutting through this fragile, sandy soil (literally one of a kind in the world), where NO TARSANDS PIPELINE exists now, did they then push Gov. Heineman to adopt a shrunken version of the Sandhills. Disgusting, but typical of TransCanada.

All three routes proposed in TransCanada’s application to the Nebraska Public Service Commission cross the Ogallala Aquifer and literally hundreds of water body crossings. All routes put at risk the Whooping Crane (only a few hundred left on the planet). All routes would see a projected at least 91 spills over the lifetime of the pipe. All routes give TransCanada life-time ownership of the strip of land they take from farmers and ranchers.

All three routes allow TransCanada to sell that land easement to whoever they want with zero say from our state or landowners. All of the routes allow TransCanada to ship whatever they want in the pipe — tarsands mixed with benzene, hazardous waste, or maybe down the road, our water. You laugh at that one? Well, even a representative from TransCanada admitted to the Nebraska state legislature that using the pipe to transport our water was a possibility down the road.

Over 100 landowners in Nebraska refuse to give up their land to a foreign corporation that does not have a state or federal permit to build Keystone XL. Landowners in South Dakota and Montana would be standing with them, refusing to give up their land, but TransCanada used eminent domain threats much earlier in those states and successfully bullied landowners into signing contracts they did not want (with some signing under duress).

Pipeline fighters continue to stand together.

On October 19th, we will stand together supporting the landowners, represented by the Domina Law Group, as they ask the judge to not–as TransCanada is requesting–dismiss the case on eminent domain and the illegal bill we must get off the books (LB 1161).

Nothing TransCanada does will make us stop fighting them at every turn. We will carve pumpkins; we will march in the snow; we will plant Ponca Sacred corn; we will build a solar barn in the route; we will conduct our own Citizen Review of the pipeline; we will boo at TransCanada ads when the Huskers play in Memorial Stadium; we will shine lights on the Governors mansion; we will stand with Randy; we will put up tipis with our Native allies; we will rock out with Willie Nelson and Neil Young; we will make large crop art installations; we will go door to door on horseback…

We — this unlikely alliance of farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, environmentalists, grandmothers, rednecks, creative class, tattooed bikers, young people — will do everything and anything we can to show our power as citizens who decided to look Big Oil in the eye, pull back our sling shots, and take them down.

We are Pipeline Fighters…and we are just getting started.

Created with flickr slideshow.


For Immediate Release: October 7, 2015
Contact: Jane Kleeb, 402-705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org

After TransCanada’s Latest Hail Mary, Keystone XL is Doomed

With years to go before eminent domain could be used and before any potential legal route in Nebraska,
Pres. Obama can and should reject now
Lincoln, NE — In spite of desperate attempts by TransCanada to manipulate the process in Nebraska, Keystone XL’s prospects have never looked dimmer.
In their latest Hail Mary attempt to get the tar sands pipeline route approved, TransCanada filed their application Monday with the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC). The company made the desperate decision to do so when it had become clear that they faced mounting legal expenses and a likely loss in their lawsuit with Nebraska landowners over the unconstitutional use of eminent domain along with a route illegally approved by former Gov. Heineman.
The move is, ironically, an attempt to delay the process in hopes that a Republican will be elected to the White House next year and approve the pipeline. But while TransCanada hopes this will cause the State Department to delay their review process once again, State is under no legal obligation to do so. President Obama can still reject the pipeline any time on the grounds the pipeline is not in the national interest.
Moreover, even if everything goes well for TransCanada’s far-fetched plan, Nebraska law prohibits the re-initiation of eminent domain proceedings for two years after they are abandoned in progress, as TransCanada has just done. This means that even if the PSC approved a route in 7 months, the shortest amount of time possible, TransCanada would still have to wait two years to restart eminent domain proceedings against Nebraska landowners.
The legal team for Nebraska landowners, the Domina Law Group, are proceeding with the lawsuit in Holt County on Oct. 19th with plans to ask the judge to move forward with the challenge to LB 1161 in order to get that unconstitutional law off the books so there are not two paths (one easy, one hard) for a pipeline company to take for their route approval on a state level.
Bottom line: there is no legal route for the pipeline in Nebraska and no right to use eminent domain for private gain, and there won’t be one for years.
“The proposed route still threatens the Ogallala aquifer and the Sandhills. Landowners and citizens will continue to participate in the process and restate all the concerns we held since day one about this export pipeline,” said Bold Nebraska Director Jane Kleeb. “This isn’t TransCanada’s first Hail Mary and it won’t be the last. We look forward to Pres. Obama showing his moral courage to stop the pipeline now.”
“President Obama, it’s the 4th quarter! Don’t punt, go for the win! Reject all tar sands pipelines that risk our land and water,” said Art Tanderup, Nebraska landowner.
“From Canada to Texas, our native brothers and sisters are fighting for their lives and the lives of future generations,” said Aldo Seoane, Wica Agli. “TransCanada has no right to eminent domain—not on private land and definitely not on Tribal lands. We call on President Obama to honor the treaties, to protect the people, the land, and the water by rejecting Keystone XL now.”
“The legal team firmly stands with the landowners in our strong case against TransCanada,” stated Dave Domina. “President Obama is within the law to reject the pipeline now.”
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