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Opinion - Opinion
 
Brewer at the Legislature: Power line, historical statues, free speech, Tell North Platte what you think
 
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Tom Brewer

This week I had a special honor. It was special because it honored me as a father and as a soldier, albeit an old retired soldier.

My daughter, Second Lieutenant Kalee (Brewer) Bolton, graduated from her officer basic course in Fort Lee, Va. This is a special moment in the career of every young Army officer. I am so proud of her. I was really glad I got to be there.

Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it extended the public comment period for NPPD’s R-Line project, (a proposed electric power line) that runs 225 miles from the Gerald Gentleman Power plant near Sutherland to Holt County, much of it through the heart of the Sandhills.

The comment period originally ended July 11 but will now be extended through Nov, 7.

About 125 miles of the east/west portion of the project, from Thedford to the Neligh/Hoskins area, goes through previously undisturbed grassland.

Over 93 miles of this portion of the line has no road access. In some places the nearest road is more than three miles away. I am very concerned about this, but concerned is all I can be because very little can be done about it. The only thing really holding up construction now is an endangered beetle.

NPPD approved the route of the R-Line in January 2015. The current planned route of the R Line will be built no matter how many extensions to the public comment period there are.

Unlike other states that have agencies citizens can address grievances to, public utilities in Nebraska have very little oversight besides the Power Review Board.

The law gives this organization very narrow jurisdiction over public utility projects, such that it simply has no authority to address many citizen concerns.

It’s worth noting my predecessor supported the R Line project.

Speaking of power, there is going to be a hearing of the Natural Resources Committee here in the Capitol, Room 1525 at 1:30 p.m., Friday Sept. 22.

The committee will discuss an interim study (Legislative Resolution 125). The purpose of the study is to study public power in Nebraska. One of the topics is “the role of public power and of renewable energy in economic development in the state, including strengths and areas in need of improvement.”

Quite a few folks in the district have expressed an interest in attending this hearing and testifying on the topic of “renewable energy” (aka; wind energy).

The author of the book, Paradise Destroyed – The Destruction of Rural Living by the Wind Energy Scam, Mr. Gregg Hubner will join us and testify.

I want to thank all of the folks who contacted me about last week’s column concerning Civil War statues. I was humbled by such an outpouring of support for that subject. I think protecting our nation’s history and fighting mob rule are important topics, and I am so pleased so many of you feel the same way.

Speaking of freedom of speech, I was appalled by what I saw happen to a student on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus this week. A young lady, a sophomore, was berated and intimidated by people (including a university professor) just because she was trying to recruit students for a conservative group.

I watched a video of this vulgar and unprofessional behavior by people who are paid with our tax dollars. I saw a university employee tell her that she could only hand out her “propaganda” in an area he called a “free speech zone.”

I’m going to ask the university for a map of these so-called “free speech zones,” because the last time I checked, the first amendment to our constitution applied to the entire country.

Maybe the nearly $1 billion in funding the legislature appropriates each year to the university can be pro-rated to only fund the free-speech areas and let them find another way to pay for the parts of the campus where constitutional rights don’t apply.

If a special session is needed to make additional cuts to the budget, this will be on my mind.

 

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at tbrewer@leg.ne.gov or call us at (402) 471-2628.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 9/5/2017
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