So honored to have been a tiny part of creating this crop art this summer on the Tanderup farm near Neligh, NE, in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Amazing work by John Quigley, Art Tanderup, Gerald Brand, and all the volunteers! This message is all the more important in light of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision Friday to approve the “mainline alternative” route of the KXL pipeline through Nebraska, despite a woeful lack of consultation with property owners and tribes along the route, which passes through many culturally significant sites.
I have farmland just down the road from here, which has been in my family since my great grandfather bought it in the 1880s. The Sandhills are a very ecologically sensitive area, with much more biodiversity and higher quality prairies than in most of IL, for instance.
They are also home to the Ogalalla Aquifer, one of the world’s largest and most agriculturally important aquifers. It underlies an area of approximately 174,000 sq mi in portions of eight states, and supplies about a third of the water for agricultural irrigation in the US. 82% of people in the Great Plains get their drinking water from it.
My farmland is also 8 miles from the proposed route of KXL, which would also run through the Tanderup farm – and the Ponca tribe’s Trail of Tears.
The fact that so many of my neighbors in Nebraska are opposed to this tells an interesting story of resistance and of the fact we really are all in common space together.
Nebraska is a red state – these are farmers and ranchers, not what most of us think of as rabble rousers, or knee jerk environmentalists.
Instead they have seen what has happened with Keystone I, which, like KXL, will bring not oil, but tar sands, not from the US, but from Canada, to export markets. The benefit to US energy security is practically zero, and the only jobs that will be provided are short term ones.
Perhaps this is why Transcanada, now re-styled “TC Energy” has been bullying local farmers and bribing local officials.Farmers and ranchers have been called by Transcanada and told if they didn’t grant an “easement” for the pipeline to be built across their land, Transcanada would sue them and/or begin eminent domain proceedings. In an incredibly cynical move, there’s evidence they actually targeted those that were seen as being financially vulnerable first.
What’s more, once the pipeline was built, spills and just the act of construction have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in decreased yields, lost rents, and plumetting property values – this in an area that’s already been hit hard by the trade war with China and this year’s record floods, which delayed planting. TC Energy has been able to dodge nearly all liability for these damages.
At least three lawsuits are pending in federal courts over the pipeline, many with Nebraska property owners and tribes as parties.