Shortly following the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s “shortsighted and dangerous” vote to green-light TransCanada’s Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, a coalition comprised of Indigenous peoples, farmers, and ranchers living along the oil project’s proposed route published a letter on Monday urging the public to join them in protecting sacred land from corporate exploitation.
Endorsed by Native tribes, green groups, and high-profile environmentalists, the “Promise to Protect” call to action argues that making “a concerted stand” against TransCanada’s $8 billion dirty energy project “will make other fossil fuel companies think that much harder about their own expansion plans.”
“Together we’ve stopped them for many years, and we are going to keep stopping them,” the letter reads. “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.”
“For many years the tribes, indigenous leaders, farmers, ranchers, and allies everywhere have kept this pipeline at bay,” the coalition notes. “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.”
The letter goes on to make several requests of those who wish to participate in the “creative resistance” against KXL that is expected to take shape in the coming months, including:
- Commitment to entirely peaceful acts of protest, even in the face of “the pain caused by TransCanada’s aggression”;
- Respect for “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”;
- Preparation in advance of the demonstrations, including training sessions with organizers, so that “you’re able to find the place you’re most needed on any given day.”
The fossil fuel industry “believes that with the inauguration of Mr. Trump, the obstacles in their path had disappeared,” the letter concludes. “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.”
As Common Dreams reported, Nebraska’s Public Service Commission voted 3-2 on Monday to grant TransCanada the final permit to begin construction along an alternative route to the one the company initially proposed. If built, the pipeline would carry an estimated 800,000 gallons of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada through several states en route to Texas oil refineries.
In addition to the mass action that is expected to accompany any advances in construction of the pipeline, a flood of appeals and lawsuits are expected to challenge Nebraska’s decision to approve the project in the coming weeks.
“The climate can’t handle another tar sands pipeline,” Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, declared in a statement. “We won’t stand idly by while new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline, threaten communities and put drinking water at risk. TransCanada and the other companies trying to build new tar sands pipelines will continue to face a wall of resistance until each and every one of these projects is cancelled.”