A New Face For Keystone Naysayers: Quiet Farmer Turned Liberal Hero, or Fictional Bruce Springsteen Character?

Photo by listentoreason. Some rights reserved.

Because we’ve spent a fair amount of time here at Green Mien covering developments with the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, it feels only right to point readers toward an excellent story published in Monday’s New York Times, which examines the effects of the planned 1,700 mile pipeline on a smaller, more human level, by exposing struggles in the American heartland between landowners unwilling to sell access to their land and Transcanada, the Canadian energy giant behind the pipeline. The article highlights Randy Thompson, a cattle farmer in Nebraska who has now received two letters from Transcanada informing him that if he does not “negotiate a voluntary transfer” with the company, Transcanada would “be forced to invoke the power of eminent domain and will initiate condemnation proceedings against this property.”

Like a character plucked from the small-town folk ballads of Bruce Springsteen’s landmark album Nebraska, Thompson has quickly become a sort of quiet hero to those other landowners who feel negatively about Transcanada’s aggression in acquiring land. He even addressed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May, opposing the pipeline for safety concerns, which based on info in past posts on the pipeline, may well be warranted. “We all have shared concerns that a pipeline of this magnitude and with such inherent risks could endanger our livelihoods and way of life. Most all of these family operations have been built through decades of hard work and love for the land on which we live,” wrote Thompson, of the fellow farmers and ranchers living along the pipeline’s proposed route.

It has nothing to do with money,” he told the New York Times. “To me there are two critical issues. First of all, I am a citizen of the United States and a private citizen, and I don’t think that a foreign company that is putting pipeline for their private use has any business taking land us from us as private issue. The second issue is our water supply. The route they have selected for this thing is the most risky route they could have picked across the state of Nebraska.”

While Thompson has been taking his message to the people at public speaking arrangements, his concerns are being further validated in Congress this week, as two letters, one authored by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Patrick Leahy (Ver.), and Bernard Sanders (Ver.) and the other authored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and signed by 32 members of the House, were sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voicing further environmental concerns regarding the pipeline.

Meanwhile, in further related news, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill that enforces higher safety standards on such pipelines, enacted in the wake of last year’s tragic pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA. The measure would boost fines for violations, require more technologically advanced equipment, and also increase the amount of federal safety oversight over such projects.

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