Monday, November 20, 2017

Nebraska Public Service Commission Approves Keystone XL Pipeline


As you probably know, the Blue Dogs, New Dems and DCCC are all furiously pushing Brad Ashford on Omaha voters again. Ashford, an opportunist who changes parties like normal people change underwear, was one of the 3 worst Democrats in the House for his one miserable term. Having been fired from his new job, he decided to jump into a race he can probably win in an anti-GOP wave, but not hold in a normal midterm. He's a big Keystone Pipeline proponent and normal Douglas County Democrats are happy to have a progressive alternative, Kara Eastman. This morning, after the pro-pipeline ruling, she told us that she's "opposed to today's decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission approving the Keystone XL Pipeline." So are an awful lot of other Nebaskans, especially in the Omaha area. Kara:
For the last eleven years, I've has worked with Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance combating the devastating effects of lead poisoning, among other environmental hazards, in Omaha, Nebraska. Why was the organization started, you might wonder? Omaha has the nation’s largest residential superfund site where lead poisoning has affected thousands and has had an especially adverse impact on children. We now know what lead can do to water because we’ve seen the tragedy unfold in Flint, Michigan. In Omaha, the community has rallied around an organization to deal with lead-contaminated soil and a long-term health crisis. It was started because funds from a legal settlement from a large corporation had to be used to clean up a toxic, polluted Superfund site. The EPA also had to come in and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up what a big corporation left us with-- lead poisoned soil. I know firsthand what unregulated industries do to our environment, our citizens, and our most vulnerable population-- our children. I know what can happen when concerned activists lose out to the possibility and allure of corporate profits and their well-funded campaigns to persuade people that their big business will benefit the community in the long run. I also understand that short-term thinking like that can and does lead to long-term catastrophic consequences and decades-long clean-up projects like the Superfund site in Omaha.

Goal ThermometerI oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline and its limited economic benefits to Nebraskans-- maybe 50 full-time, permanent jobs created in the long run. I oppose the pipeline because it will mostly benefit a large Canadian oil company. We don’t even need the oil in America-- we’re now exporting our oil surplus! We need to invest in renewables and new technology and not the old regime of dirty energy. I've seen regular people forced to cede their land and their rights to a foreign company so that construction can begin. I support the 10% of landowners on the proposed route in Nebraska who are still standing up for the property rights and won’t sell to TransCanada. But most of all, I oppose this project because of the potential for environmental destruction and the poisoning of our water due to small and large spills that can and do happen regularly-- about every other day on average in the US. An Iowa pipeline leaked over hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel last year, and when a farmer found an undetected leak on Keystone 1 in South Dakota around the same time, the pipeline had to be shut down for 3 months! Finally, we've just seen 210,000 gallons of dirty tar sands oil leaking out of Keystone this past week in Amherst, South Dakota. Having dirty, tar sands oil seep into our soil and water-- as it will have 56 river crossings and be built over one of the nation’s largest aquifers-- is not a risk worth taking so that a multinational corporation can ship oil to Texas to refine and process for export overseas.
A few months ago, the Omaha World-Herald headlined a letter to the editor, Ashford's flip-flop on Keystone pipeline by Trent Cooper: "Former Rep. Brad Ashford’s change on the Keystone XL pipeline is the perfect example of why Democrats lose congressional seats and lost the presidency. I will never support him again. We need Democrats who will do the right thing for our state and country, not what it takes to keep their seat." No one likes a flip-flopper or an opportunist.

A couple of years ago Bold Nebraska was far harsher towards Ashford, when Jane Kleeb, now Nebraska Democratic Party chair, wrote that Ashford was siding "with a foreign oil corporation over Nebraska farmers and ranchers." Ashford, she wrote, "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.

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.

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At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is to be expected in a society where corporations have rights and people do not.

At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the latest wrt conyers has helped make clear, when you give corrupt men power, that power encourages and enables these already corrupt men to plummet to their lowest urges.

What are these lowest urges? Well, greed of course. After all... corrupt, right?
The other one has to be lust. Give power to already unprincipled men, this is what you get. And everyone in congress should be presumed to be unprincipled.


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