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Bold Nebraska branches out, will run local candidates

By   /   May 29, 2013  /   61 Comments

Kat Buchanan for Nebraska Watchdog

FARM TEAM: Bold Nebraska has been instrumental in organization opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. They dominated a U.S. State Department hearing in Grand Island, Neb.

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN – The grassroots Nebraska group of oil pipeline fighters that has thrown obstacles in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline plans to get more involved in politics by running candidates in local races.

Bold Nebraska is joining the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and Nebraska Farmers Union to get candidates elected to local boards that support renewable and alternative energy. They will initially focus on getting the state’s public power energy boards and perhaps a couple of seats in the Legislature.

They also plan to train people to get local resolutions passed opposing “extreme forms of energy” such as tar sands oil from Canada, which would be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline that Bold has fought from the start. This summer and fall the groups plan to build windmills inside the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route to show their preference for local energy.

The trio plans a candidate project called New Energy Voter, a recruitment program called the Farm Team and a training program called Bold Boots to recruit and train volunteers to work on campaigns. The Bold Boots program will work to register Latinos to vote in towns such as Grand Island, Fremont and Schuyler.

“When you look around at our bench… we don’t see a lot of folks who care about energy and ag,” said Jane Kleeb, head of Bold Nebraska, “We don’t think either party is doing a good job going out in the field and really working on these down-ballot races.”

The trio will work to get like-minded people elected to energy boards, because “public power boards have been asleep at the wheel,” Kleeb said.

Kleeb said New Energy Voter will be nonpartisan, and the trio will raise “a good amount of money” to help their candidates.

“It’s a shame that neither party in our state seems to really give a damn about energy right now,” she said.

Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska

BOLD BOOTS: Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, says the group is partnering with two others to run candidates in local races.

They don’t plan to run candidates for governor or the U.S. Senate – yet.

“I think we will some day,” she said. “That’s not our focus right now. We want to focus on energy.”

The pipeline fight taught them to focus on areas in which they can succeed, as opposed to trying to push a candidate in a statewide race where they would need to raise millions of dollars.

“That’s just not something that we could do right now,” Kleeb said.

But once they get candidates elected to smaller boards, they can move up to statewide slots, Kleeb said.

“That’s what we have our eye on,” she said.

They’ll continue to fuse culture and politics by merging fundraisers with concerts and rodeos, for example. They’ve already begun talking to some of the most active pipeline fighters/landowners about running for office.

“We do have a couple that are ready to run,” Kleeb said. “They’ve seen up close and personal how incompetent some of these senators are.”

The Farmers Union has long been involved in politics, endorsing candidates and making campaign contributions, and will use that experience to help the candidate project.

“Honestly, I think the parties get so bogged down with party politics that they lose track of what’s important,” said Zack Hamilton, special projects coordinator for the Farmers Union. “That’s ridiculous, to allow party politics to dictate how you vote.”

The pipeline has brought together people from both sides of the political aisle to work together, he said, although he allows that this effort will be “more of a progressive movement.”

“It’s a nonpartisan push,” he said. “We’re just trying to get more people involved in the process.”

The group is progressive, but Kleeb says it has worked with plenty of Republicans in fighting Keystone XL. It’s not just about oil, but property rights, water rights and family legacies.

“The vast majority of landowners are Republican,” she said. “I have no problem with the Republican Party. For us, it’s not about the party, it’s about their values.”

Bold Nebraska has focused on the pipeline since forming three years ago, but it also supports reforming child welfare and expanding Medicaid, a provision of Obamacare.

She never thought the pipeline fight would end up on a national stage, or that she would do up to six interviews a day at times.

“It’s an amazing testimony to citizen power,” she said. “We’re gonna take that energy and win some races.”

Contact Deena Winter at [email protected].

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here.


Deena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • LBN

    What is BOLD Nebraska’s IRS status? Are they a PAC, or are they a non-profit group? Their website doesn’t say. If they’re a PAC not accepting tax deductible donations, they should be more transparent and say so. The group seems pretty shady in how they handle any public disclosure about where their money comes from.


    How about hydraulic fracturing?

  • Grandma who saw

    The group and Kleeb are more than ‘shady’. They can be underhanded, immature and inappropriate in their actions. They threatened one year to show up at the homes of State Senators who had voted FOR the pipeline….(get this) on Halloween. Wanting to humiliate and cause a ruckus in their neighborhoods and embarrass the Senators in front of their own children. How sad they are. I don’t think they have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anyone elected to even the smallest most insignificant political position in the state.

  • Landowner

    Apparently you are not a landowner that this toxic pipeline goes over your only source of water for your lively hood, cattle, crops, family wells. Talk about humility, we have gone countless times to testify to our so called elected officals, only to fall on deaf ears. They have been an embarrassment to us and our children and children to come. It is sad you are not educated enough on this TransCanada KXL pipeline to now the truth. What would you do to get some respect and help if it was on your land? Just remember you get your water from the Aquifer too. If it is contaminated, you will be the first to bitch.

  • Jane Kleeb

    Bold Nebraska is a 501c4, which is an advocacy group and non-profit tax status. Donations to Bold are not tax-exempt like 501c3 nonprofits. When involved in local, nonpartisan races we also file the forms of expenses with the Nebraska Accountability office.

  • Anon

    What about all those pesticides and other toxic chemicals the farmers use?

    The real issue is simple. You don’t want people taking any part of your land for any reason, no matter how much good it will bring.

  • ProgressiveOasis

    It’s good to see that Ivy Starnes is going to share her expertise with a whole group of local candidates…for a price. I guess voters will just have to be reminded that Ms. Starnes and the American Communist Party share a whole host of common ideals.

  • ksh

    Kleeb makes me want to puke. She is all in this for herself since her husband couldn’t get into office. She has nothing to do or care about farmers. I’m a farmer and I wouldn’t give her the time of day.

  • Julie Schmit-Albin

    BN’s New Energy “voter guide” was kicked off in the 2012 election and met with flat reception. For one thing, as a 501-C-4 piece, it shouldn’t be full of conjecture and opinion, which it was. They seemed to clean it up a little better for the Omaha and Lincoln City Elections but it was still very clear who they preferred the voters vote for and as a 501-C-4 you shouldn’t be able to discern that. Surprised they just don’t form a PAC but then there is that small problem of having to report everything to NADC with a PAC. BN’s current self-reporting to NADC doesn’t give the full picture of what they are spending where PAC filings would leave little to the imagination.

  • gcj

    Wait til the pipeline has negative effects on YOUR farm. Maybe that’s what it will take for you to wake up.

  • gcj

    Are you saying the Keystone pipeline will bring good? How will that be? It is transporting the dirtiest oil in the world from Canada to the Gulf refineries and most of it will be exported overseas. Very little will be for use in this country. A few jobs will be created to build the pipeline and once it’s built those jobs will disappear. What happens if the pipeline ruptures? Did you see what happened in Arkansas a couple weeks ago in a nice middle-class neighborhood? Did you know the gas company did their best to prevent the press from covering the story? The only pictures available to the public were those taken from residents’ cell phones. Bet you didn’t see any of those. Did you even hear about the incident? And what about all those pesticides and toxic chemicals farmers use. Have you followed Monsanto and GMO (genetically modified) crops? Monsanto is developing a stranglehold on seed production and the seeds themselves contain toxic chemicals so whatever crops are grown already contain these toxins. Monsanto is creating a monopoly on seed production in this country and farmers are at their mercy. Were you aware that crops grown with Monsanto seeds do not produce seeds that can be used to grow a second crop, so each year farmers have to buy more seeds from Monsanto? Are you aware that Monsanto has sued hundreds of farmers over seed/crop issues and they usually win? They are doing their best to destroy independent farmers in this country and turn them into Monsanto slaves. I suggest you focus your concerns about toxic chemicals and pesticides on the true culprit – Monsanto and GMOs – and show some compassion and support for the local farmers.

  • Jane Kleeb

    Thanks for your suggestion on forming a PAC. We are thinking about doing that actually so we can also raise money for candidates which we can not do right now. I’m sorry you didn’t like our New Energy Voter Guide. We had over 10k hits just in one day, so seems some folks liked it.

  • gcj

    I didn’t see the voter guide but if it was met with flat reception, sounds like there’s a lot of education that needs to be done and a lot of waking up to do. Do you have a legal cite you can point to that prohibits conjecture and opinion being expressed by a 501(c)(4)? Are you sure it was conjecture and opinion or just your interpretation of facts you were unfamiliar with or didn’t agree with?

  • Maggie

    Bold Nebraska’s purpose is clear: To protect our lands and families from powerful special interests. I am forever grateful to Bold Nebraska for their tireless efforts to protect the state I was born and raised in. It is a noble cause to promote diverse political beliefs among our elected officials. And I congratulate them on their new endeavor!!!

  • Pro_Nebraska_Economy

    The farmers can only use what the Chemical companies will sell them. So get a clue. People like you don’t have a clue what a farmer has to put up with. Go buy food from other countries if you don’t support AMERICAN FARMERS. For me I support Americans not Foriegn Corporations like TransCanada. Our water is more important than all the oil in Canada.

  • Britton Bailey

    Someday the status quo naysayers will wake up and thank the leadership provided by the Bold NE organization who is bold enough to stand up for me, you and future generations. The naysayers will say no more when the Ogallala Aquifer is the last remaining clean source of water. They will say no more when we switch from corn to a more sustainable switch grass for ethanol production. The naysayers will say no more when the US leads with renewable energy jobs that revive a declining nation and dying planet. They will say no more when they come to realize Bold NE is working for the good of all.

    The status quo pushers don’t want you to see the potential paradise in the here, the now and a green lush future. Don’t let the high roller gambling naysayers bank roll you into believing that the status quo is the only way to go. Bold NE just wants you to see that we can do better than the status quo. Thank you Bold NE!

  • Bam

    What’s Bold Nebraska’s stand on transporting the tar sands oil by railcar through Nebraska? Most of us know that the group receives sizable support from Dick Holland, a big investor in Berkshire Hathaway; BH owns the BNSF, a railway which would stand to gain much should that oil be forced into more extreme forms of transportation like rail. Would you oppose the transport of all oil through the state, no matter what form of transport it takes, or has Mr. Holland told you to keep quiet on that?

    Does Bold Nebraska also support the immediate extraction of the thousands of miles of pipeline that currently course through the state and over the aquifer? What’s the group’s stand on the use of fertilizer and herbicides in the Sand Hills? Are you opposed to them as well because of their effect on the land and the aquifers?

    I’d be curious how “bold” your group really is on protecting the state.

  • Hey, it is not only safety for the aquifer and Berk.Hath., it will crteate more jobs in Nebraska! Win-Win.

  • OneVoter

    How many times state senators SHOULD be embarrassed for votes that endanger Nebraskans’ health and safety . . . they are never immune from appropriate scrutiny. To believe that the behind-closed-doors wheeling and dealing of state senators is good and pure and in our interest is the ultimate naiveté.

  • Bam

    Yes, David, I know the pipeline will. I’m just curious about BN’s stand on the items I mentioned above.

  • Jane Kleeb

    We are against all development of tarsands. We do support USA light crude oil. There are too many unknowns with tarsands and our government and oil companies have no idea how to clean tarsands from our water (it sinks) and the chemicals (called dilutents) are harmful when a pipeline spills. I will say with rail they do not have to add the chemicals. Rail has been proven to be safer. That being said, we do not support tarsands development. We want to see clean and local energy development that builds–not threatens–our communities.

  • Bam

    Who says it’s been proven safer? There were 563 reported incidents involving hazardous spills by rail in 2012, and less than 100 from pipeline. Forcing more transportation by rail increases the number of those incidents.

    By “clean and local energy development,” does that mean you support wind farms? I hope not. The impact of those on the key bird migratory routes through Nebraska would be an environmental disaster, not to mention a blight on the Sand Hills landscape.

  • OldTimerUSN

    Maybe you missed it last year but the pipe line is going down thru Eastern NE not the sand hills and in case all you real smart people don’t realize it there are thousands of miles of pipe lines under this Country and the next time your sitting out in your back yard take a gallon of gas and then a gallon of thick crude pour on one side of the yard and pour the other on the other side then drink a few beers wait a couple of hours a see which one sits on top of the ground and the other is already headed for the water table. I would imagine that most of these tree huggers are the same ones that voted for another idiot we got in DC.

  • Margaret M

    I have stood with Bold Nebraska time and time again and will continue to do so. This organization makes me proud to be from Nebraska. People are listening because of Bold Nebraska and its followers. They are here to protect us from big corporations that only see profit and Americans that cannot think for themselves or who are unwilling to educate themselves on current issues. Keep up the great, unselfish work BN!!!

  • Taking Charge

    I am a 50 yr old NE farmer and a member of Bold Ne. I have never been called shady before but that is the beauty of this tar sands expansion issue. It has brought a lot of people together that normally wouldn’t be thought as a “group”. We are farmers and ranchers, teachers and lawyers, pastors and business people, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, grandparents and children. This group is about as diverse as it can be. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to dream of such an issue that would bring so many different people together! It is a beautiful thing to see and be a part of. If you see us as shady I would suggest you look a bit deeper at us and the tar sand issues and how they relate to the future of our families, counties, state, country and world. The power of right is full of might! 🙂

  • jeepwonder

    These exact policies have led state after state to fiscal ruin.
    Why do they leave places like California and take this failed agenda on the road?
    It never works and always leaves a disaster of failed lives behind it. Check Detroit.

  • jeepwonder

    What is known, is that Canada is our friendly ally, we don’t know that about other sources of oil. I’d rather my oil money not fund jihadists.

  • jeepwonder

    EVery time I start my car in cold winter weather that won’t allow electric cars to hold a charge, I consider it a good thing.

  • jeepwonder

    And fuel for the pumps and tractors doesn’t count?

  • jeepwonder

    Thinking that expanding medicare will provide healthcare to people not getting any now is ultimate naivete.

  • jeepwonder

    Wait until high energy prices effect you.
    Will you blame the big oil companies after you tied their hands to opening up more supply?

    You cause the problems and then get to blame it on others when the predictable results happen.

    Socialists, you’re very predictable that way.

  • Husker

    Bold NE’s job is to fight the pipeline just until the oil companies cuts a deal with the environmentalists. Then, when the deal is made, the fight will be over. This has always been about the money.

  • Joan

    Now aren’t you sorry you jumped all over me when I told you then Enbridge spill in Michigan was a problem because the oil sunk to the bottom of the river and three years later the spill has not been cleaned up. Plus 6/1/13 Alberta, Canada had a l,000 acre spill by TransCanada and this is the largest spill in North America to date. Reported on NBC yesterday. One could say we don’t want the damn Keystone pipe line. The Company won’t even agree to put in place the latest technology to detect leaks or other problems.

  • Joan

    Get over yourself, their status is the same a the Tea Party I am sure!

  • Joan

    You are right, this is just another Tea Party idiot.

  • Bam

    Wrong, Joan – they’ve always said it would have the latest technology. Trains are FAR more likely for spills, plus they pollute themselves.

  • Joan

    Yes, yes, we know Canada is our ally, we don’t want this damn dirty oil transported through Nebraska, headed to Texas, where it cannot be refined and must be shipped to foreign soil. You people have such thick skulls or you are just stuck on stupid. It is a serious endangerment to our water. Humans cannot survive without water. This is dirty oil that will sink to the bottom of the Aquifer. Just because there are existing pipelines over the Aquifer with oil that floats, does not mean we should poison the well with Tarsand Oil.

  • Joan

    Changing the subject indicates you are losing the argument.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    WRONG AGAIN, Bam! The technology TransCanada is using is 15 years old and is NOT the latest, nor most accurate/sensitive leak detection system available. It IS; however, the CHEAPEST system they can use to maintain the bare minimum standards required currently, as is every single one of their “special” 57 “precautions” proposed for the KXL – like shut off valves every 20 miles. Why not every 5, or every 1/2 mile in very sensitive areas, since 20 miles of pipeline between shut offs contains approx. 5.6 MILLION gallons of Tarsands Crude that would spill out unchecked? TransCanada has already admitted that the sensor system, the same used in the Keystone I, can’t detect leaks of less than 1 1/2 -2 %, nor did that system detect ANY of the 14 leaks in the U.S. or 12 in Canada of the Keystone I pipeline.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Biofuels, jack ass, biofuels. Nebraska is the #3 producer GLOBALLY of ethanol, if every vehicle in Nebraska was E-85 capable, we produce enough ethanol to fuel EVERY one of them AND meet the U.S. demand for ethanol for E-10 blend AND meet the U.S.’s export demand for ethanol! We do NOT need Canada’s filthy, toxic Tarsands sludge being pumped over the most vulnerable part of the Ogallala Aquifer, its recharge zone, which happens to be the proposed route through Holt and Rock Counties.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Funny how you call Nebraska REPUBLICAN farmers and Ranchers “socialists”, you probably picked that one up from the latest Fox News “report”. We do NOT need Big Oil or fossil fuels any more, but you, jeepwonder, continue to shill for the local street corner pusher. You are mentally weak and morally decrepit, not to mention intellectually void.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Sounds like Julie is being bitter and jealous because she has become irrelevant and ignored by the media. By the way, Julie, how is that felony investigation going for your trying to hack into your opposition’s email?

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Start with the space between your ears. That seems pretty solid and in need of fracturing to release the trapped gases contained there.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Which policies would that be, Citizen empowerment and taking back our Government and politicians from Corporate control?

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    They don’t use nearly as much as you try to claim, especially in Holt and Rock Counties where the Ogallala is at the surface. In fact, many of the farmers and ranchers up there have gone organic just because of the fact they know how fragile the ecosystem is up there and the fact that everything that goes ON the land winds up directly IN the water they use to drink, irrigate and water livestock with. Four and five generations living on that land has made them attuned to living in harmony with that land – it IS a New Eden – look at the ONLY area in the United States’ Corn Belt to produce a crop during the Nation-wide drought last year, in the State hit HARDEST by the drought no less, it was the area of Nebraska where crops were irrigated from the Ogallala Aquifer!!!

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    And your proof of that is what? Would you care to share that with those of us who are fighting this pipeline?

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Maybe YOU missed it, but the proposed route STILL crosses through the Sand Hills in Holt and Rock Counties, STILL lies IN the Ogallala Aquifer for over 11 miles, STILL lies less than 20′ above the Ogallala Aquifer in porous, sandy, permeable soils for another 43 miles, and does NOT route through “Eastern Nebraska”.

    Tarsands Crude is NOT “thick crude”, it is essentially asphalt thinned down with up to 30% diluent of Benzene, Xylene and Toluene. Do you want some of the most deadly, carcinogenic organic solvents known to mankind “poured on one side of the yard” as you put it? Do you even pay attention to the REAL news about what happened in Kalamazoo, MI or Mayflower, AR when Tarsands crude spilled and the effects it had on the people who were within a mile of the spills and breathed in the fumes? Or the fact that it SINKS in water and sticks to everything it touches? Or do you live in the fantasy land of Fox News’ Altered Reality and believe everything the “machine” tells you because you spent too many years below the scuppers breathing the bilge fumes till both of your brain cells, and ability to think like a higher order primate, disappeared?

  • Joan

    Bam, why do you insist on keeping your head up your a$$? The TransCanada company refused to use the latest technology in Canada and thusly 1,000 acres of land is now waste land and they are refusing to use the same technology in the KXL. This is a fact, just because you have not heard the fact does not mean it does not exist.

  • Bam

    Joan, you’re just aping what the Kleebians tell you to ape. You have no knowledge, and your language is horrible for a woman of your age. Your unaborted professional daughters would be ashamed.

  • Bam

    Ha! As if YOU would know…

  • Bam

    Name calling, really? It’s hard to take people seriously who do that.

  • jeepwonder

    Pointing out the obvious indicates I understand the issue.

  • jeepwonder

    But you accept that we use heavy crude from the dictatorship in Venezuela and has welcomed Iranian soldiers?

    You have such thick skulls that you dont’ realize the first and most important responsibility you have is survival. After that, then we can be picky. It’s not a serious endangerment to our water, shipping it by rail is much more dangerous. And just because you don’t want to take that chance doesn’t mean you should be able to decide that for everyone that needs affordable energy or a decent job.

    Why, just screaming the loudest doesn’t make you the smartest you know.

  • jeepwonder

    Corporate control is citizen control. Do you think corporations are controlled by aliens or something? Corporations are just people that work together, and they make this country run. I’d rather have them run it than the government that’s trying to run business now and ruining everything.

    And I’m a citizen just like you are, yet you want to keep me from being empowered, how does that work again? Are you more equal than I am as a socialist?

  • jeepwonder

    If they look to government for answers instead of being self sufficient, then they’re not typical conservative Republicans. If they want to force the country to bow to government control without letting the free market decide on solutions? They’re probably socialists.

    Words do mean things.
    We do need fossil fuels, at least now. Why did Obama defund fuel cell research money in his first year in office if this administration was so desperate to get us off fossil fuels? This is about punishing the people who need affordable energy, the middle class. You are mentally weak and morally decrepit if you think somehow you’ll escape the consequences of high priced energy.

  • jeepwonder

    Biofuels? The ones that lower gas mileage and make people use more fuel? And who pays for that ethanol? It’s paid for by subsidies, not by the market. Why? It’s too expensive to be viable without direct government interference. Yes, it raises prices on corn so farmers do well. But you know the bad side? It raises prices on corn when people in the world are rioting over high food prices.

    Can you really sleep at night knowing you are making people go to bed hungry? And the pipeline was re-routed away from the ogallala aquifer. You need to update your talkingpoints.

  • jeepwonder

    I’m surprised there is so much of it here.
    Facts are what they are.

  • Plainstruth

    Oil and water do not mix. The danger of aquifer contamination by the proposed KXL has been greatly exaggerated. On the other hand, many of the chemicals farmers spread on their land can and do mix with water and create problems.

  • Plainstruth

    You would burn food and let poor people starve. You are the JACK ASS.

  • Plainstruth

    Rail transport safer? Where did you get that information? In any case, small comfort to the people burned to death in Canada from the most recent rail accident involving tar sand oil.

  • Plainstruth

    YES! And there will be pie in the sky when we die. Yippie!