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Nebraska's race for governor pits climate change against Keystone pipeline

Protestors against keystone pipeline
Protestors against keystone pipeline
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Nebraska currently has a Republican governor, Dave Heinerman, who supports finishing the Keystone XL pipeline and using eminent domain laws to seize land from private citizens to do it.

However, Chuck Hassebrook is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who doesn't agree.

Nebraska is a pivotal state, where a judge upheld an eminent domain case against the seizure of land for completion of the Keystone XL pipeline from unwilling citizens this year.

“The whole idea of eminent domain is we take peoples’ property rights when there’s a compelling public interest,” said Hassebrook. “From my perspective, I don’t see the compelling public interest for the people of Nebraska in helping a Canadian company sell Canadian oil to the Chinese.”

Furthermore, Hassebrook isn’t reserved in his position on climate change, while many Republicans are still mired in skepticism generated primarily by fossil fuel industry propaganda.

Nonetheless, Pete Rickettes, the Republican candidate opposing Hassebrook uses the same talking point that has been repeated throughout out the GOP echo chamber for over a decade as temperatures continue to rise and more extreme anomalous weather patterns have emerged.

“It is far from clear — despite what the other side is saying — it is far from clear what is going on with our climate,” said Rickettes.

However, Hassebrook clearly sees Keystone as a climate change problem and recent studies show that the pipeline would create four times more carbon than originally estimated by the State Department.

“I believe, from all my experience, that building the infrastructure to help facilitate that development [of tar sands] will help speed that development, and ultimately I think that contributes to climate change,” he told ThinkProgress. “For me, it’s a climate change issue.”

Conservatives and pipeline promoters tout the Keystone project as a jobs-creator, which was originally claimed to be upward of 100,000 jobs, but such declarations have been squelched recently by more realistic estimates of a few hundred for construction, while leaving only 35 permanent positions, according to a Newsweek report.

If Hassebrook gets elected, he will join a growing number of environmentally responsible governors across the nation, like Jay Inslee (D-WA.), Jerry Brown (D-CA.) and John Kitzhaber (D-OR.), who are taking steps in their states to promote renewable energy sources over accommodating fossil fuel promotion.

A June report in Bloomberg showed that Americans by 2 to 1, primarily Democrats, would pay more on their energy bill if it resulted from fighting climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

President Barack Obama will ultimately have the final say on the Keystone pipeline, but indications are that won't happen until early in 2015.

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