Arguing that the Keystone XL pipeline would not be in the best interest of small towns and agricultural areas, the Center for Rural Affairs on September 24 urged the federal government not to approve the controversial project.
“Oil and water don’t mix,” said rural affairs board member Maryanne Rouse in a statement. “The Keystone XL pipeline threatens our rural communities, and the natural resources that we depend upon.”
At its quarterly meeting in Wayne, Nebraska on Saturday September 21, the group’s board signed a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “stating that the pipeline is not in the best interest of small towns and rural areas, especially those that depend upon agriculture for their livelihood,” the group said.
The Center for Rural Affairs joins many others, from tribal members to Nobel laureates, in fighting against the $7 billion, 1,700-mile long pipeline extension. The pipeline would carry bitumen, a viscous form of crude that is extracted from the oil sands of Alberta, all the way from that northern province in Canada down to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas.
What rural residents need more than new fossil fuel extraction, the group said, is more investment in renewable energy and less contribution to climate change. Obama himself has said he would not approve the pipeline if it contributed substantially to climate change.
The project may be delayed because of an internal investigation the U.S. Department of State is conducting into the firm that conducted the environmental analysis.
Meanwhile the chorus of opposition rises.
“The risk of transporting tar sands oil cannot be ignored, as it threatens our natural resources and could have untold impacts on agriculture,” said Rouse. “We need to bring energy development back to renewable, homegrown sources and protect our natural resources as well as the climate.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear President Obama and Secretary Kerry,
The Center for Rural Affairs is a non-profit organization based in Lyons, Nebraska. The organization works on a variety of rural issues, ranging from health care, economic and community development to clean energy and sustainable agriculture. We work to provide genuine opportunity for all in rural America.
The Keystone XL pipeline threatens our rural communities and the natural resources we depend on. We believe the pipeline is not in the best interest of rural communities or those who depend upon agriculture for their livelihood.
Development is good and necessary, but we need to make sure we are doing the kind of development that will help and not hurt our rural communities. Rather than increasing investment in another fossil fuel source and laying the groundwork for transporting that fuel across the nation, we should instead invest in homegrown renewable energy. The risk involved with transporting tar sands cannot be ignored, as it threatens our natural resources and could have untold impact on agriculture.
Rural citizens would stand to benefit a lot more from increased renewable energy investment, and from decreasing contributions to climate change. It is time for action, and rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline is the perfect banner move for this new direction. It’s time we combine efforts to bring energy development back to renewable, homegrown sources, protect our natural resources, and begin to curb our contributions to global climate change.
It is for these reasons that the board of the Center for Rural Affairs is participating in the day of action against the Keystone XL pipeline and standing in solidarity with other groups that ask the administration to oppose the pipeline. Included in this letter is a photo of the board at our most recent quarterly meeting.
We urge Secretary Kerry, the State Department, and President Obama’s Administration as a whole to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Center for Rural Affairs Board and Advisory Board
Joe Blankenau—Wayne, NE
Garry Clark—West Point, NE
Lowell Fey—Nebraska City, NE
Melissa Florell, Executive Committee—Kearney, NE
Becky Gould, Secretary—Lincoln, NE
David Hansen—Anselmo, NE
Jim Knopik, President—Belgrade, NE
Chuck Karpf, Treasurer—Mitchell, NE
Keith Mahaney—Walthill, NE
Cy Pinkelman, Executive Committee—Hartington, NE
Maryanne Rouse—Omaha, NE
Carol Schooley—Grand Island, NE
Paul Swanson—Hastings, NE
Karen Tikalsky—Niobrara, NE
Advisory Board Members:
Dennis Demmel—Ogallala, NE
Mark Epp—Henderson, NE
Greg Fripp—Papillion, NE