Bullying and the State of Keystone XL
BY KATE KUNKEL
Last year, three Nebraska landowners challenged the law that amended state pipeline laws to grant the power of eminent domain to Gov. Heineman, a law they claimed was corrupt and was passed in order to pave the way for Keystone XL. Last week, the Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln, NE found that the law was unconstitutional and void. Included in the ruling was an injunction preventing any further action under that law, by Gov. Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, which would authorize or advance Keystone XL.
Plaintiff and landowner Randy Thompson summed up the frustration and anger of many residents when he summarized the actions of TransCanada. “They came out here like a bunch of bullies and tried to force it down our throats,” he said. “They told us there was nothing we could do to stop it.”
This is not the first time that the word “bully” has been associated with this project. The drive to forward Keystone XL has resulted in other allegations of bullying on the part of the company behind it.
In 2012, Transcanada brought against several environmental groups and 19 individual protesters what is known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). According to a press release from one of the groups, Tar Sands Blockade, the people involved "were threatened with losing their homes and life’s savings if the lawsuit went forward.” The suit was settled in 2013, inspiring headlines like “David vs. Goliath: Keystone XL Multinational Bullies Pipeline Protestors into Settlement”.
With tactics like this, it’s no wonder that a good project is getting such bad press. But Trans Canada is not the only villain accused of bullying in the fight against Keystone XL. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is accused at home of running roughshod over his own (Conservative) party members and stifling dissent anywhere in Canada and his particularly aggressive style is not helping matters when it comes to Keystone XL.
Harper has been accused of attempting to pressure President Obama on this matter, and his government’s appearance of being anti-environment has even caused a former Canadian Prime Minister to speak out on the matter. Joe Clark says the Harper government has taken a divisive approach to international climate discussions and contends that the government that has seen Canada become a perennial favorite for the tongue-in-cheek Fossil Award may have also made selling Canadian crude abroad. By extension, it has made it more difficult to get approval for Keystone XL approval .
TransCanada and Stephen Harper are not doing a good project any favors with their adversarial stance. People like to see bullies get their comeuppance. Hopefully President Obama will not let that color his decision to okay the pipeline.