Category Archives: News

LJS Editorial: Demand accountability for death-penalty decisions

From the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board:

Nebraska voters reinstated the death penalty in 2016 as a means of ensuring the state’s most heinous murderers are held accountable for their crimes.

Accountability must also extend to the state officials responsible for implementing and carrying out capital punishment. Despite repeated efforts – and now, lawsuits and potential subpoenas – those in positions of authority have hypocritically refused to open themselves up to such scrutiny.

Carrying out the ultimate punishment of ending a person’s life comes with the utmost responsibility because of the gravity of the situation. Yet the state’s refusal to do so brings an ever-increasing number of lawsuits and legal costs. Most recently, the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee received subpoena power to seek information on the death penalty protocol that’s remained hidden.

“We’re just trying to make sure that the process was followed,” said Crete Sen. Laura Ebke, chair of the Judiciary Committee. “If the state is going to put someone to death, then we ought to at least make sure that we’re following our own rules for doing so.”

Amen to that.

Read the full editorial.

Cutting NU budget would send wrong message, damage Nebraska

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds asked state senators to think about the future.

“If we want this to be a place where our children and grandchildren will live and work and raise a family, we have to invest in one of the primary economic drivers our state has,” he told members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. “That is the University of Nebraska, and frankly all of higher education.”

Casting the state’s financial support for the university as a moral issue, Bounds, now in his third year as NU’s president, then asked senators to consider the consequences of a plan put forward by Gov. Pete Ricketts earlier this year.

Read the full story.

Nebraska can protect net neutrality

From the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board:

The Federal Communications Commission has let Americans down by scrapping its net neutrality rules.

Now, states have rightfully taken it upon themselves to protect the idea of a free and open internet once guaranteed by the regulatory agency. In that arena, Nebraska has the chance to emerge as one of the early leaders.

Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld has introduced the Internet Neutrality Act, LB856, aimed at reinstituting the federal regulations – treating all traffic the same and barring providers from blocking, slowing or charging access to particular content – that are phasing out and enshrining them in state code.

Opposition to the FCC’s decision transcends party affiliation or seemingly any other division. The Journal Star editorial board remains firmly in support of net neutrality and supports efforts such as this to restore it.

Read the full editorial.

KXL: Economics that destroy

From Truthout:

As the plagued Keystone Pipeline spilled 200,000 gallons of oil near the Sisseton Dakota reservation, on November 20, the Nebraska Public Service Commission issued a convoluted permit approval, allowing TransCanada to route the line through part of the state. In the meantime, the Dakota, Lakota and their allies stand strong.

That same day hundreds gathered for the Gathering to Protect the Sacred — a reaffirmation of the international agreement among sovereign indigenous nations to protect the environment from tar-sands projects. The Treaty to Protect the Sacred, first signed in 2013, was signed again. “Nothing has changed at all in our defense of land, air and water of the Oceti Sakowin,” Faith Spotted Eagle told the crowd. “If anything, it has become more focused, stronger and more adamant after Standing Rock.”

The assembly — sponsored by the Braveheart Society of Women, Wiconi Un Tipi, Ihanktonwan Treaty Committee and Dakota Rural Action — brought together 200 water protectors. Oyate Win Brushbreaker, a 97-year-old elder reminded those present, “Reaffirm the boundaries of that treaty. Keep out that black snake you have been talking about.”

Read the full story.

LJS Editorial: Nonpartisan candidates face too high a bar

From the Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board:

Thanks to a late addition to a far-reaching elections bill, nonpartisan candidates seeking election to statewide offices in Nebraska now face the hardest road in the country to appear on the ballot.

Hopefuls must now obtain signatures from 10 percent of the state’s registered voters – roughly 119,000 people – to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate, up from 4,000. Six percent of all Nebraskans must sign off on any potential independent candidacy for statewide offices such as governor and United States senator.

This change is simply bad business for Nebraska elections – and the idea of a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The last thing democracy needs is a chilling effect on the ultimate form of political participation: running for office.

Read the full editorial.

Hundreds protest in Lincoln on the eve of KXL hearings

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Over 500 protesters from across the country converged outside the state Capitol and onto downtown streets Sunday afternoon in response to TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The protest comes on the eve of week-long proceedings in front of the Nebraska Public Service Commission where local landowners, TransCanada representatives, Native American tribal leaders and others will present testimony on whether or not the pipeline serves the public interest.

The proceedings mark the last major hurdle TransCanada must get over for approval of the pipeline, which would carry nearly 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for export.

K Street on the north side of the Capitol was blocked off as hundreds of sign-bearing protesters gathered. After speakers rallied the crowd, Native protesters astride horses led a march north down 16th Street.

Read the full story.

 

Coal faces competition, even in Nebraska

From the Omaha World-Herald:

President Donald Trump’s removal of the United States from the Paris Agreement climate plan won’t provide a lifeline to the ailing coal industry — even in a state like Nebraska that burns a lot of it.

Utilities, railroads and other users and haulers of the black stuff say that when it comes to the move away from coal, the train has already left the station.

Even in Nebraska, the only state that increased its reliance on coal to produce power in the 10-year period between 2006 and 2016, a closer look at electricity-generating data shows a different pattern more recently: Since 2013, coal’s share of the market has actually fallen.

So while Nebraska utilities still gobble up coal to produce power, they’re using a more varied mix of sources to make electricity — bringing wind, solar and natural gas into the picture. And those other sources are only growing over time as coal falls.

Read the full story.

NRDC: Still No Approved Route for KXL in Nebraska

From the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Yes, Trump has green-lighted the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. But Nebraska’s got a slew of public hearings on the calendar, and legal challenges loom large.

“Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline,” the headlines blared. It was March 24, only two months after he’d taken office, when it appeared that President Trump had cleared the way for the long-contested tar sands conduit with a stroke of his pen. In reality, summarily declaring that the pipeline is in the national interest—despite a seven-year U.S. State Department review process that had concluded the opposite—won’t magically bring it to life. The president, together with TransCanada, the energy company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, still have many obstacles to overcome before Canadian tar sands crude can flow through KXL and into the United States.

The first formidable hurdle they face is the state of Nebraska, which TransCanada has treated with contempt in recent years. First, the company drew the pipeline’s route through the heart of the state’s fragile Sand Hills ecosystem. Confronted by environmental concerns, TransCanada said that rerouting the pipeline would be “impossible.” Mounting resistance, however, forced the oil giant to relent and nudge the proposed route around some of the most sensitive parts of the Sand Hills. The pipeline would still, however, run through the important Ogallala aquifer—one of our largest underground stores of freshwater, which would be at significant risk in the event of a leak.

Now that the controversial tar sands pipeline has been reactivated by President Trump’s decision, TransCanada must obtain the consent of the Nebraska Public Service Commission and secure easements from the landowners along the proposed route through the Cornhusker State. It will not be smooth sailing

Read the full policy primer.

LJS Editorial: Paris exit a black eye for US

From the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board:

By withdrawing from the international Paris agreement to curb global warming worldwide, the United States landed in less-than-inspiring company on climate change.

The only two other countries in the world not participating in the accord are Nicaragua (which actually pushed for more stringent efforts) and Syria (whose president is committing atrocities against his own people). This is the company Americans now keep.

President Donald Trump claimed growing the U.S. economy and protecting American jobs were the primary reasons for the exit. However, those claims aren’t backed by the overwhelming negative reaction by American businesses – and the mountains of scientific evidence and an ever-warming Earth that threatens cities and economies, including Nebraska’s.

Though rising sea levels won’t directly threaten the Cornhusker State, climatologists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have seen a spike in severe precipitation events in recent years. Nebraska Game and Parks biologists warn of dangers to native species and increased spread of invasive species and pathogens.

Forecasts call for more than two weeks a year of 100-plus-degree weather and decreased river volume for drinking and irrigation. More extreme shifts, including floods and droughts, are predicted in the coming decades.

These will affect all Nebraskans, regardless of location and employment.

Read the full editorial.

Lincoln Climate March draws hundreds

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

More than 200 protesters gathered Saturday morning to voice their concerns about climate change and its lack of acceptance by the public and elected officials.

Participants marched from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union to the State Capitol before gathering at The Bourbon Theatre. The event was one of more than 300 satellite marches across the globe.

John Atkeison, the lead organizer of the Lincoln march, said the protest was meant to get the attention of more than just elected officials.

“The main motivating force for dealing with change is at the grass roots,” he said. “The politicians that are in power now don’t address the problem. They’ve been doing little or nothing about it.”

Read the full story.