Nebraskans Are Building Solar Panels to Block the Keystone XL Pipeline

by Mike Hudema

August 15, 2017

"They'll have to go under it, around it, or tear it down to get their dirty oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico."

Nebraskans Building Solar to Block KXL

Jim Knopik of North Star Solar Bears, the installer of Solar XL. Photo by Juliana BrownEyes-Clifford.

Environmentalists are sometimes criticized for not talking about solutions enough. The media often portrays people who oppose pipelines as ‘anti-development,’ for instance. The reality, however, is that we can both fight against dangerous pipelines and fight for solutions like renewable energy at the same time — and those fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline just made that point more clear than ever.

Landowners and Indigenous groups are joining together to build solar projects directly in the path of the proposed pipeline. While TransCanada wants to build projects that would harm the land, pose ongoing dangers to the water supplies of millions of Americans, and devastate Indigenous lands, these stewards are building the solutions they want to see Nebraska and the country embrace.

Last week, I had the opportunity to see these projects first-hand.

Solar-Powered Barn

In 2013, land owners, Tribal members and volunteers came together to build a solar and wind-powered barn on land directly inside the proposed route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline route.

Solar Powered Barn in the Path of KXL

This was the first solution-oriented ‘stake in the ground’ that was constructed in the pipeline’s path. The barn is already producing energy.  In order for TransCanada to build its dirty oil pipeline, it will have to tear down clean energy to do it.

Solar XL

More than three years after the construction of the solar barn, landowners are back at it again planning to build solar projects right in TransCanada’s path throughout the state.

The latest round of solar installations is already up. Last week, landowner and farmer Jim Carlson received approval to plug the clean energy his new solar panels will produce directly into the Nebraska power grid.

First SolarXL Site on land of Jim and Chris Carlson

“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,” Carlson said on Monday. “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.”

crowd-funding campaign for the project has already raised more than $42,000 for more solar stakes to go up and includes plans for a show of ‘solar solidarity’ to other tar sands pipeline fights like Kinder Morgan, TransMountain, and Enbridge Line 3.

Join the movement to stop tar sands pipelines.

These groups are leading their opposition with solutions —  showing the world the type of energy we know we need if we want to avoid runaway climate change. They’re producing energy that protects the land and water, and creates far more jobs then a dirty tar sands pipeline ever will.

It’s time we implemented the landowners mantra — panels not pipelines. Do your part by telling JPMorgan Chase, a major tar sands oil funder, to pull its support for these dangerous pipelines. Take action at the link below today!

Mike Hudema

By Mike Hudema

Mike Hudema has been a longtime creative activist in Edmonton and beyond and is currently a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada working on issues like tar sands development and renewable energy.

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