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My Contribution

Still Standing Up.
Still Speaking Out.

By Edward Graham

In February, NSEA-Retired treasurer Art Tanderup, left, participated in a Climate Change Rally that culminated at the White House in Washington, D.C. The experience with likeminded demonstrators made him more determined than ever to fight the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

As a former NEA director and current treasurer of the Nebraska State Education Association-Retired (NSEA), Art Tanderup has experience speaking out for others. So it was natural for him to fight a proposal to route the Keystone XL oil pipeline through his Nebraska farmland.

Linking his activism to his work for NEA, he says, “I think I’ve helped some other people who [instead of getting involved] would have maybe just sat back and said, ‘I can’t really do anything about this.’”

After the state of Nebraska refused to allow construction of the pipeline through the sensitive Sand Hills region or over the Ogallala Aquifer, TransCanada—the Canadian-based energy company that is behind the Keystone XL pipeline project—redirected the proposed route. The new path led through Tanderup’s family farm, which is just outside of Neligh and above the Ogallala Aquifer—only 10 miles from the Sand Hills.

If the U.S. State Department allows construction of the pipeline and Tanderup rejects TransCanada’s payment, he will have to cave into the project because the government can use eminent domain to allow the pipeline on his property.

“How can a private company from a foreign country come in and involuntarily take over American soil?” Tanderup asks.

Tanderup is also concerned about his land absorbing spillage. Up to 2 percent of the estimated 70,000 – 100,000 of crude oil that will be transported by the 1,179-mile pipeline could leak without being detected. In addition, the chemicals and pressurization required to make the crude oil flow could cause the heat inside of the pipeline to reach more than 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re very concerned about getting anything to grow up on the ground, even though the pipeline would be 4 feet down,” says Tanderup, noting that the pipeline could adversely affect the root structure of nearby plants.

Tanderup has voiced his concerns at hearings and joined with others whose properties would be affected. Unlike the national pipeline debate, which tends to follow party lines, Tanderup and his allies are not thinking politics. They want to preserve the pristine landscape that supports their livelihoods and quality of life. “If [the oil] gets into our water, the live-stock’s affected, the people are affected, everything is affected,” he says.

He urges others to speak up and make a difference: “You have to become politically active, you have to write letters, you have to make phone calls, you have to visit with politicians, and you have to attend meetings. You have to do all the things that are necessary, because if your voice isn’t heard then you don’t exist.”


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