August 24, 2011

Nebraska State Fair: learn where your oil comes from

The state of Nebraska has been embroiled in a lengthy argument over the plans for a new pipeline that would bring crude oil from Canada to a refinery near Houston.  A similar pipeline already crosses eastern Nebraska, and the new pipeline would cross the Sandhills--which has led to the uproar about disturbing fragile Sandhills soils/plant communities and the potential for oil to leak into the groundwaters of the Ogallala aquifer.

Because the pipeline project crosses many states and originates in a foreign country, the US State Department is the initial regulatory agency involved--providing the permit to build.  So, there are also issues of the regulatory powers of states to influence decisions that will impact their citizens.  It's a mess.

This week, several citizens from Nebraska (including some 60+-aged folks and others who you would not normally associate with such protests) conducted a sit-in in front of the White House in Washington, DC; many were arrested for their silent protest.

So, it was a little surprising to me to see that the Nebraska State Fair had accepted the sponsorship of TransCanada, the company lobbying to build the Keystone Pipeline.   If you click on the link for the Fair (above), you'll see the TransCanda logo at the bottom of the page. 

So, will fair-goers be subject to propaganda from TransCanada?  Probably.  Is that bad?  I'd argue that it's not.

Whether you support the planned pipeline or protest the pipeline, I think Nebraskans (compared to 1-2 years ago) have a much better idea about where our oil comes from.  We put gas in the tank of our cars every week, and we rarely think about where that has come from and the processes that get it into our fuel tank.  That has changed--many Nebraskans are much more familiar with alternatives to transporting oil by pipeline, and newspapers and TV stations have shown pipeline maps every week for that past year.  It's been a learning experience.  Regardless of the outcome, that is a valuable step to becoming a nation that thinks about energy.

For several years, agriculture officials have encouraged people to 'learn where their food comes from'.  The State Fair helps provide that information--with booths showing live births of farm animals, for example. 

This year, it looks like the State Fair has the opportunity to help Nebraskans learn more about where their oil comes from!

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