October 2, 2014

Conference in La Vista will focus on energy from the wind & sun

Wind Turbine 2Organizers of the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition later this month say the event will highlight new and continuing opportunities for the wind and solar industries in the state.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, says the conference is designed as a resource for anyone who’s interested in clean energy.

Hansen says, “We bring together the public utilities in Nebraska, wind developers, the wide assortment of companies and consultants that are involved in the designing of projects along with land owners, environmental interests and the public at large.”

He says it’s like a “watering hole” where everyone can come together and share their ideas.

Now in its seventh year, Hansen says the conferences have already contributed to the growth of wind and solar energy in Nebraska.

“They have helped our policy makers and everyone involved in the industry take a look at things that have worked successfully elsewhere and that might be good, appropriate solutions to the challenges we face here,” Hansen says.

The conference will be held in La Vista on October 29th and 30th.

Hansen says it’s open to anyone and registration information can be found at Nebraska Wind and Solar conference-dot-com.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton




Big name corn field concert draws big crowd, big money to protest pipeline

More than 8,000 people turned out in a corn field north of Neligh on Saturday for a concert and rally in opposition to construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The “Harvest the Hope” event was held on Art Tanderup’s farm. Tanderup said the concert, featuring Neil Young and Willie Nelson, grew out of contacts made when he was in Washington D.C. last year and he wanted to hold the event on his land because of what is beneath it — one of the largest aquifers on the planet.

Tanderup says he is also concerned about the route the Keystone XL pipeline would take in his area.

The crude oil planned to be transported in the pipeline is especially dangerous, according to organizers of the “Harvest the Hope” concert.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of programs for the National Resource Defense Council, said the source oil is a real danger.

Casey-Lefkowitz says the concert is symbolic of the opposition to the pipeline in rural Nebraska and they plan to use the money from the concert to expand their message.

Based on ticket sales alone, the concert raised over $350,000  dollars.

TransCanada, which is building the pipeline, says it will be the safest pipeline built in the country. They are still waiting on official approval from the U.S. State Department for the international border crossing.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


UNL study concludes climate change effects could be dramatic for state

Dramatic effects of climate change could be ahead for the state, according to a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln climate study.

One of the lead authors, Dr. Don Wilhite with the UNL School of Natural Resources and founder of the National Drought Mitigation Center, indicates that predicted temperature changes of four to nine degrees by the end of the century would have a large impact on agriculture–both in Nebraska and worldwide.

“It will make a big difference. Not only in terms of temperature increase, but in the increase in the number of days of over 100 degree days,” Wilhite says. “Days over 100 degrees put a lot of stress on crops, stress on livestock, and a lot on humans.”

Dr. Wilhite adds they see the possibilities of more drought. Dr. Wilhite says the human factor in all of this is significant with greenhouse gases and their concentration in the atmosphere.

“The natural forces in our climate are things that occur over periods of thousands of years, where as the types of changes that we’re facing in the next 70 to 100 years are largely due to the increase in greenhouse gases,” Wilhite notes.

UNL officials compiled an independent study after refusing to participate in a legislative proposed study that prevented looking at the influence of humans on the environment.

Intentional fish kill by poison is a necessary step in restocking lake

Dead fish at Lake Yankton

Dead fish at Lake Yankton

An invasive species of fish, known for sometimes jumping out of the water and injuring boaters, is being eradicated from a lake along the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Lake Yankton was intentionally poisoned this week to wipe out Asian carp.

Jeff Schuckman, manager of the Northeast Regional Fisheries for state Game & Parks, says the poison is acting quickly to kill the undesirables.

“There was probably more Asian carp that I thought there was even,” Schuckman says. “When they first started coming up, they were absolutely thick. A lot of them have sunk and they’ll start to float in the next day or two. There was a lot of them along the shoreline. Like we thought, there’s probably 98% of them are Asian carp, a lot of buffalo and common carp.”

Schuckman says they’ll be ready to start repopulating the lake soon.

“These fish will decompose,” he says. “It’s going to take a week or so for this chemical to detoxify. As soon as it detoxifies, we’ve got fish from the Valentine State Fish Hatchery, bass and bluegill, read to go in. It’s going to be restocked probably by October 1st.”

Schuckman says by next fall, there should be some good-sized fish in the lake.

“A year from now, we’ll have 5 to 6-inch bluegill and they’ll be spawing and we’ll have 9 to 10-inch largemouth bass, and we’re off and running,” he says. “Next spring, we’ll put in some more largemouth bass and we’ll get some black crappie fingerlings, some channel catfish and some walleye. It won’t be a couple of years and we’ll have some good fishing again.”

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department assisted in the project. Yankton Lake was overrun by the carp that got in during the flood of 2011. The lake is just below Gavins Point Dam.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton



Battle over Keystone XL extends well beyond lawsuit (AUDIO)

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

A case will be decided by the state Supreme Court, but the battle over the Keystone XL oil pipeline extends well beyond a Nebraska court room.

Supreme Court justices weigh oral arguments in the case against the state law that authorized the Keystone XL route through Nebraska.

But, the author of the bill signed into law, state Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, insists opponents really aren’t aiming at the law.

“The ideology of the opponents to the pipeline is that they want no fossil fuel. They do not want to move any of the North American oil to the refineries,” according to Smith. “Whether the oil comes from North Dakota or from Canada. That’s really irrelevant in this argument for them.”

Both those for Keystone XL and those opposed crowded into the Nebraska Capitol on Friday to hear the oral arguments and make their presence known.

Four landowners have challenge the law passed by the Unicameral that has shifted authorization to select the route of oil pipelines through Nebraska from the Public Service Commission to the governor. They claim the legislature violated the state constitution by by-passing the PSC.

The landowners won at the lower level. The state appealed to the Supreme Court which has taken the case under advisement and will rule later.

Bold Nebraska has been a vocal opponent of TransCanada from the beginning. It argues the production of crude oil from the oil sands of western Canada is extremely harmful to the environment.

Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb makes it no secret she wants to stop TransCanada from building Keystone XL and that she enjoys being at ground zero.

“So, Nebraska continues to be the lynchpin in the Keystone XL pipeline and nobody would have guessed that on day one.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]