‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground ahead of hearings on whether to allow Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
***Photos available for use with attribution at link below***
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.
The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.
The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.
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Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: “I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC: “Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”
Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance: “The very thought of a big corporation using eminent domain for their private gain makes Nebraskans angry and inspires our creativity and grit to stop this risky pipeline. We used 100% made-in-the-USA materials, and a small family-run company to install these solar panels. The Solar XL project is a reminder of the people power that will stop this pipeline.”
Sara Shor, Keep it in the Ground Campaign Manager, 350.org: “Solar XL is about showing what’s possible at a massive scale — a renewable energy economy that doesn’t sacrifice our communities or our climate. Putting solar panels in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline will help power the homes of Nebraskans refusing to give in to the fossil fuel industry’s greed. This August, farmers, Indigenous peoples, and many more communities living along the proposed Keystone XL route will be in Nebraska to urge the commissioners to deny a permit for the project. This is a fight for our future. We must resist Keystone XL and all new fossil fuel infrastructure while building our way towards a renewable energy economy that works for all.”
Joye Braun, Indigenous Environmental Network: “While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed.”
David Turnbull, Campaigns Director, Oil Change International: “Keystone XL would be a disaster for our climate and communities, and what’s more TransCanada’s own CEO questions whether there’s even demand for it in the first place. There’s simply no reason to build this dangerous pipeline and put us all at risk. Meanwhile, this new solar installation is a shining example of creative and determined resistance to Big Oil bullying. Landowners up and down the Keystone XL route have shown impressive determination to stop this pipeline for years, and with Solar XL, they’re building the future we all need at the same time.”
Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director, CREDO: “The solar panels being installed on the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline should serve as a powerful reminder of the fierce opposition this pipeline has faced for the past seven years. They also show that our march toward clean energy will move forward despite the best efforts of Donald Trump and his Big Oil cronies to keep us wedded to the dirty energy sources of the past. CREDO is proud to stand with and support the landowners and indigenous people on the pipeline route who are leading the opposition to Keystone XL.”
More information on the “Solar XL” project:
Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance, 402-705-3622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, 323-972-5192, email@example.com
Dani Heffernan, 350.org, 305-992-1544, firstname.lastname@example.org