We the People Say #NoKXL

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.

 

 

 

About Bethany Barratt

Dr. Barratt earned her PhD from the University of California in 2002, and her BA in Political Science/History from Duke University in 1994. She is Director of the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project, which joins forces with community partners in Chicago and cities abroad to draw and apply comparative lessons to make measurable gains in respect for human rights in urban settings. Professor Barratt has conducted archival and field research in Yellowstone National Park, Central Asia, the UK, Canada, and Australia. She is author or editor of several books including “Human Rights and Foreign Aid” (Routledge, 2007), "The Politics of Harry Potter" (Palgrave McMillan, 2012), and coeditor o "Public Opinion and War: Lessons from Iraq" (Potomac, 2012). She has also authored articles on environmental politics and justice, conservation policy, human rights, foreign aid, US, British, Canadian, and Australian foreign policy, and counterterrorism, in Political Research Quarterly, The Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and edited volumes from Ashgate and Lexington Books. Besides her teaching experience at Roosevelt and the University of California, she has also taught in a number of jails and prisons. She is an officer or member of several scholarly associations including the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association.
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