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Common Dreams

Solar Barn vs. KXL: Community Builds Alternative in Direct Path of Pipeline

Creative protest in Nebraska highlights 'what's at stake' for residents fighting proposed tar sands pipeline through their town

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Nebraska residents are showing that they will not allow the Keystone XL pipeline to tear through their communities or trample on their livelihoods.

They've constructed a wind and solar-powered barn, near York, Nebraska, in the direct path of the proposed pipeline—billing it as an alternative to dangerous and dirty tar sands oil, and daring the Obama administration and TransCanada to destroy their community building.

"This is clearly a challenge to the president to say you can choose our families and clean energy, or you can choose a dirty pipeline," Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska told Common Dreams. "It is a clear line in the sand."

Kleeb told Common Dreams that a coalition of ranchers and farmers with the Nebraska Farmer's Union joined with organizations including Bold Nebraska,, Sierra Club and Credo, as well as billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, to construct the creative protest building.


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A dedication ceremony this weekend was timed to coordinate with nation-wide actions across 49 U.S. states calling for Keystone XL pipeline construction to halt and for tar sands oil to stay in the ground. Over 100 volunteers gathered Sunday at the barn that sits on the land of a family of farmers who will use the space to store their supplies and host community meetings.

Nebraska residents charge that the proposed pipeline would not only expand tar sands oil extraction and deepen environmental and climate crises, but it would also threaten the health and livelihoods of people throughout Nebraska.

"If someone had an oil spill on their property and that got into thir well, there would be no way to clean it and it would destroy their water," Kleeb told Common Dreams. "A lot of ranchers are organic farmers and provide whole foods and have organic certification. A tar sands spill would ruin their certification. Furthermore, this pipeline would make the government use eminent domain laws to force landowners to give up their land."

"This barn symbolizes our ties to the land and water in the state," she added. "We wanted to show President Obama the energy future we want and what's at stake if he approves the pipeline."


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