Keystone XL Pipeline Resistance Continues

You are encouraged to help resist the Keystone XL Pipeline by submitting your comments to the U.S. State Department before August 29th.

Nationwide resistance to TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline began when the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), CREDO, and The Other 98% developed the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, March 6, 2013.  This movement to stop the pipeline began by creating a website where opponents of the pipeline could sign the Pledge. Over 97,000 people signed.

“I pledge, if necessary, to join others in my community, and engage in acts of dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could result in my arrest in order to send the message to President Obama and his administration that they must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.”

This website collected the contact information for those who signed the Pledge. People could also indicate whether they would be willing to be Action Leaders in their local communities. RAN then spent the summer of 2013 traveling to 25 cities to train local Action Leaders. I was trained in Des Moines, Iowa, but worked with other Action Leaders in Indianapolis. The training involved learning how to design a nonviolent direct action, and how to train local people about nonviolent civil disobedience, roles (media, police liaison, etc), and legal matters. In all, over 400 Action Leaders trained over 4,000 local activists. Many local events were held to raise public awareness about the environmental dangers posed by tar sands and the pipelines that transport that.

In November, 2015, at the request of the State Department, President Obama denied the permit to build the U.S. part of the pipeline. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership,” Obama said at the time.

President Trump reversed that decision via an Executive Order in March, 2017. But Nebraska had not approved a route for the pipeline.  In November, 2017, “Nebraska regulators approved the 280.5-mile alternative route for the Keystone XL, which will expand on the existing pipeline through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, days after the existing Keystone pipeline’s latest spill, a 210,000-gallon leak near Amherst, South Dakota.” The alternative route, rather than TransCanada’s preferred route, was approved. There were concerns about possible leaks along the preferred route, which would risk polluting the gigantic Ogallala Aquifer. Which means TransCanada will have to negotiate with landowners along the new route.

Resistance to the pipeline continues in many forms.

“Last weekend, Art and Helen Tanderup, who farm north of Neligh, Nebraska, deeded the 1.6-acre plot of native corn to the native inhabitants of the land, the Ponca.
Selling the land to the Ponca means that TransCanada will have to negotiate with a new landowner, one that has special legal status as a tribe — a tribe that is opposed to the pipeline. The plot becomes the only tribally owned plot of land on the XL pipeline route in the U.S.”  In possible roadblock for Keystone XL, pipeline opponents gift land to Ponca, By Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau,  Jun 15, 2018

There is now another call to resist the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Promise to Protect follows. You can sign the Promise here:

November 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

Today brings renewed resolve. We have walked this path together before.

State authorities in Nebraska just approved a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline – but along a different path than the original route TransCanada wanted. We’re still determining exactly what this re-route means, but we know one thing for sure: this pipeline can’t be built.

Our allies in Nebraska will challenge this decision, and they’re confident the pipeline will never get built. But the rest of us are out of agencies or governments to appeal to–instead, we’ve got to rely on each other. Together we’ve stopped them for many years, and we are going to keep stopping them. But we need everyone’s help. We need you to take a stand no matter what land you live or work on. The struggle to save Mother Earth begins with you.

In fact, we need everyone’s help to do something hard: sign up today to commit to creative peaceful resistance along the pipeline route when called upon by frontline leaders, likely next spring. When the time to resist comes, you’ll get an invite from leaders along the route–in particular the leaders from the Dakotas. If you can’t come to the upper Midwest to help, we still need you, and there will be other ways to engage from where you live.

We — Indigenous leaders, farmers and ranchers, students, scientists, faith leaders, and more — will make a series of peaceful stands along the proposed pipeline route;  resolute displays of our continuing opposition to a plan that endangers the waters of the Midwest and the climate of our one earth. Water is life; climate is life–those will be our rallying cries against a project that will endanger both.

We know asking you to travel is asking a lot. The pipeline route is far away from where most people live. But the Indigenous people, farmers and ranchers of the region have fought this good fight for years now and we owe it to them to be there at the critical moment, when they ask us to be. And a concerted stand here will make other fossil fuel companies think that much harder about their own expansion plans.

We don’t know exactly what this creative resistance will look like—though we’ve seen beautiful examples in recent months, like people building solar farms in the right-of-way of the pipeline with Solar XL. All of us, too, remember the inspiring beauty and powerful resistance of the Standing Rock encampment a year ago. We saw the power of over 400 tribes who stood with Standing Rock for their inherent, moral and legal right to sovereignty, and the divestment of finances from banks supporting the project.

But we also remember how hard the authorities, and the company, worked at Standing Rock to provoke violence: the agents provocateurs and rumor-mongering, the sound cannons and fire hoses in freezing temperatures, the dogs sicced on peaceful protesters. Documents uncovered in the months since make it clear that their strategy was to produce a violent response from activists that would justify both a crackdown and their pipeline. This practice continues now with SLAPP lawsuits to discourage us from fighting back. So in order to make their jobs harder this will be an entirely peaceful operation. We will not let our anger drive us. We are:

  1. Asking that everyone who’s planning to come sign up in advance to show your commitment and support –and of course the more people who are signed up, the more chance TransCanada will decide it’s not worth the hassle and simply pull the plug. Your commitment today will not only help in the planning of these actions, but it will show TransCanada what real resistance looks like.
  2. Respecting the leadership of Indigenous peoples, farmers, and ranchers in the action, and the plans and strategies of the front lines and their allies who have made promises to protect the land, water, and climate. It is important to  understand the risks that tribes take in defending  treaty rights — all must respect their priorities and join in their public outcry for long needed respect for the inherent, moral and legal right to be caretakers of the land, air and water.
  3. Announcing in advance that this will be an entirely peaceful operation, at least on our end. We’re aware of the pain caused by TransCanada’s aggression: the damage to tribal sovereignty, to landowner rights, and to the future. That pain naturally gives rise to anger—but if you can’t channel that anger into peaceful protest, this is not the gathering for you. We root our opposition in love. Obviously this doesn’t mean the fossil fuel industry won’t push back—there’s a real risk of being arrested if you engage in this creative resistance. But we will not let our anger drive us.
  4. Requiring that everyone who come attend a training beforehand and once you arrive. These training sessions will make sure not only that people are prepared for the actions, but that you’re able to find the place you’re most needed on any given day. (We’d also ask that you arrive with the things you need to keep yourself fed and sheltered while you’re in action).

For many years the tribes, indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and allies everywhere have kept this pipeline at bay, which means that each day for many years, 800,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on earth has stayed below ground. That has been a great achievement. We honestly don’t know if we can hold the line against Keystone XL forever—but we know that we have a chance, and that if we make a stand now it will improve our odds in a thousand other similar fights happening now and in the years ahead.

One key fossil fuel executive paid us all the ultimate tribute recently, when he lamented the “Keystone-ization of every pipeline project that’s out there.”  But the industry believes that with the inauguration of Mr. Trump, the obstacles in their path had disappeared. They are unaware of the rising tide of indigenous unity and the strong alliances with ranchers, farmers and the climate justice movement which grew stronger at Standing Rock. When the president approved the federal permits for KXL last winter, he asked TransCanada executives when construction would start: Our job is to make sure the answer is, no time soon.

Please join us.

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