Friday , 6 December 2019
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FiredUp: Keystone blockage shows the power of united rural voices

This sign is plastered all over Nebraska. Randy is rancher Randy Patrick, who led opposition in the state to the Keystone XL pipeline.

"This sign is plastered all over Nebraska. Randy is rancher Randy Thompson, who led opposition in the state to the Keystone XL pipeline." From Daily Yonder, www.dailyyonder.com

Whatever you think of the Keystone XL pipeline, you may want to take note of who stopped it. It was not, as reported in The New Yorker, Professor Bill McKibben and other East Coast activists. Instead, the power behind the brakes originated on ranches in Nebraska.

NPR reported the story, and Daily Yonder gave their take on it:

(NPR reporters Guy Raz and Brent Baughman) went straight to Nebraska, where ranchers and farmers first objected. They said the pipeline could damage the Ogallala Aquifer and, besides, they didn’t like the idea of a Canadian company taking land from U.S. ranchers.

See the story here.  We liked rancher Sue Luebbe, who chased away a helicopter surveying her land with a rifle and “some sign language.” And Randy (Thompson), the rancher who has become the face of rural resistance to the pipeline. The sign above is plastered on hundreds of billboards across Nebraska.

Thompson told NPR that he thinks of his parents, who fought through the Great Depression and any number  of droughts to hold on to their land. (Thompson) said:

“I know what my folks went through to get a piece of ground. And these sons of bitches come along and they tell me we’re going to take this land away from you whether you want us to or not. They got a fight on their hands.”

People in rural places sometimes have a trace of fatalism when change looms from powerful forces beyond their control, whether those forces are big companies or big government. It never hurts to have a reminder that sometimes David can get a good shot off against Goliath.

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