Tribal Leaders from USA and First Nation Chiefs from Canada: “Ruling in Nebraska will not Pave the Way for Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL oil pipeline protest in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Published November 20, 2017

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA – The Treaty Alliance of 150 Tribes in the US and First Nations in Canada, including the Nations all along the KXL route in Alberta, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma, said that today’s decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission to approve the route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline does not change a thing: people power will still stop this pipeline. The commission, which claimed it could not factor in spill considerations, made its decision mere days following a major tar sands oil spill on another TransCanada pipeline – the “Keystone 1” pipeline – in South Dakota right next to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe (Lake Traverse Reservation). The spill of at least some 210,000 gallons (800,000 liters) was already the third major spill since the “Keystone 1” pipeline started operating in 2010, following previous spills of 21,000 (80,000 liters) and 16,800 gallons (63,600 liters).

“The Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma has been on the receiving end of the ‘pipelines are safe’ myth for generations and has suffered greatly from the environmental genocide enacted by the extractive industry. Now our point has been proven again by last week’s Keystone 1 mega-spill. The fight is now on. Keystone XL will never be allowed to cross Ponca territory. We stand in solidarity with our Northern Ponca relatives in this unified defense of Mother Earth.” Councilwoman Casey Camp-Horinek on behalf of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma

The Keystone XL pipeline would pump 830,000 barrels a day of heavy tar sands bitumen mixed with toxic diluents from Alberta to Nebraska then on to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast for export abroad. The pipeline would run right next to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a member of the Treaty Alliance who is also still in Court fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. A National Academy of Science study proved that tar sands spills are much more damaging to the environment and difficult to clean.

Chief Stanley Grier

“The Tar Sands in Alberta is just above the northern boundary of traditional Blackfoot territory. I have seen it with my own eyes. It can only be described as an environmental holocaust. I remember thinking as I flew over it: ‘At what price a job? At what price corporate profits?’ We know that price now. Increased incidences of cancer among neighboring First Nations communities. Further cultural and social anguish from ‘man camps.’ For 35 permanent jobs in the US, Keystone XL is not only the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet, but also a devastating attack on our traditional cultural values that we continue to fight to retain.” Chief Stanley C. Grier, Chief of the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy

“This isn’t a Native or non-Native issue. It isn’t a left or right issue. It’s potentially a life or death issue, not only for those in the path of Keystone XL, but the masses who rely upon America’s ‘breadbasket.’ 20% of the irrigated farmland in the US is sustained by the Ogallala Aquifer, and the populations of 8 states rely upon that aquifer for their water. It’s not just Tribal people that warn of the irreparable devastation that would be caused by a Keystone XL spill over the Ogallala Aquifer – that’s the conclusion of foremost scientists.” Chairman Brandon Sazue, Chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Great Sioux Nation

Chief Stan Grier, Chief of the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy and Chairman Brandon Sazue of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe

The cross-border Indigenous alliance to fight Keystone XL was part of rekindling of alliances between the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Great Sioux Nation called the “Remaking of the Sacred Hoop” in which each Nation hosted a signing of a Declaration opposing KXL, first in Calgary, Alberta on May 17, 2017 and then in South Dakota in the sacred Black Hills on July 4, 2017. A number of solidarity efforts have arisen to combat the Keystone XL project with Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies ready to stand together to stop the pipeline.

“The Treaty Alliance of Tribes up and down the Keystone XL pipeline route will be standing strong along with all our other allies to beat back this threat to our water, our people and our future.” Chairman Larry Wright Jr. of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

Since the launch of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion on September 22, 2016, 150 Tribes in the US and First Nations in Canada have signed this solemn pledge to stand together to stop Keystone XL as well as the other two remaining tar sands pipeline projects (following victories against the proposed Enbridge “Northern Gateway” and TransCanada “Energy East” tar sands pipelines): Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion through British Columbia. The Tar Sands industry of Alberta is seeking to build these pipelines in order to expand production, including the biggest tar sands open-pit mining project yet – Teck’s Frontier project.

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