The people of Nebraska scored an incredible victory in federal court last week. District Court Judge William J. Martinez ruled against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Public Power District in a case concerning the “R-Project” high voltage powerline. This monstrosity was going to cut through the heart of Nebraska’s most beautiful and sensitive area in the Sandhills, but the judge’s decision in this case has put a stop to the project, hopefully for good.
The judge vacated NPPD’s permit from USFWS and sent the matter back to that federal agency. I expect an appeal is being discussed, so this is not 100 percent over. Regardless, an appeal of this decision or a new environmental impact study may take years to complete. I expect them to keep trying. If they do, we will keep fighting them.
When I first began campaigning for the legislature in 2016, hundreds of citizens from across the district raised concerns with me over this powerline. Helping stop it became a campaign pledge for me. We quickly learned the planning and decision-making on this project had happened years before I took office. Much could have been done to oppose or at least steer this project in a way that reduced citizen anger over it. My predecessor supported this project, and he took a position against the vast majority of the people that were going to be affected by it.
What I found particularly interesting in the Judge’s 116-page decision was the fact that nothing he said was a surprise. The basis for his argument will be very familiar to people who have been raising these issues for over eight years. I have raised these same issues in scores of discussions with NPPD. I have traveled to Denver and told the regional director of the USFWS these same points. I flew to Washington, D.C. and did the same with the Under Secretary of the Department of Interior. Countless citizens have sent letters and emails and attended public meetings all saying the same thing, yet we were ignored at every turn. But the judge listened.
This power line is the key ingredient in the plan to cover Nebraska with more industrial wind turbines. The judge clearly saw through this poorly camouflaged purpose, and sided with the people. He did so because the people were right on the law all along. I am so honored to represent people with this kind of grit. Their efforts are the most heroic example of citizen-led government I have ever seen. I hope this stands as an example people can take inspiration from. They remind me of one of my favorite quotes;
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent….” — Calvin Coolidge.
Contact Sen. Tom Brewer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402- 471-2628.