I. Promises to Protect

On November 17 after the Keystone Pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota near the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, clean up crews ran to protect wetlands, aquifers, and land, but the worst damage had been done.

That same day the State of South Dakota announced through its spokesperson that the “spill” will have absolutely no bearing on its pivotal decision to build the Keystone XL scheduled for the following Monday, citing a state law passed in 2011 preventing the commission from factoring in pipeline safety of potential for leaks into any of its decisions.

What 210,000 gallons looks like

Said Sara Shor, spokesperson for 350.org, “[Pipelines] spill, and if Keystone XL is built, we can only expect more of the world’s dirtiest oil spewing across farms, treaty lands, and throughout the Great Plains.”

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe will be the ones who have to deal with the long-term repercussions of this event. TransCanada, and the big banks capitalizing the pipeline have their offices in shiny glass high rises in the downtowns of cities far distant. (The recent corporate tax give-away protects $14 billion in federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and makes them permanent. Meantime, it eliminates tax credits for electric vehicles ad solar energy, and cuts subsidies of wind power by 33%, eventually phasing them out altogether.)

Promise to Protect

Four days later a coalition of indigenous peoples, farmers, and ranchers living along the pipeline’s proposed route announced their campaign escalating their opposition and promising sustained resistance to the building of the pipeline. “Every day for the last several years, we’ve stopped TransCanada and kept the tar sands in the ground. We’re going to keep stopping them.” The Promise to Protect campaign has a pledge site listed below under TAKE ACTION.

It does no harm to sign the “Promise to Protect” campaign. The planet you protect happens to be your home. Quite ordinary people are stepping up to the plate, many of them fired in their imaginations and their resistance by the Standing Rock movement, especially after watching the footage of the actual war against the Lakota Sioux and many other native and non-native peoples being assaulted with high pressure hoses in sub zero weather by the private security company hired by Energy Transfer Partners.

Emily Johnston, one of those ordinary people, who became a valve turner published her account of how she and four of her comrades shut down all five pipelines carrying tar sands crude into the U.S. by using emergency shut off valves. The Guardian UK quotes her saying “We knew we were at risk for years in prison, but the nation needs to wake up now to what’s coming our way if we don’t reduce emissions boldly and fast; business as usual is now genocidal.…Normal methods of political action and protest are simply not working with anywhere near the speed that we need them to….Our major hope…was to set legal precedent by using the ‘necessity defense’ [proving] we’d actually been acting in accordance with higher laws.”

Some Good News Amidst the Spills

Recently Emily Johnston and three of her co-defendants were finally granted the right to plead the necessity defense. The case is now before the Minnesota Court. If you can call a can of worms other good news, the same commission that approved the pipeline on November 18 refused to OK TransCanada’s preferred route for Keystone XL, determining its route should run eastward through the state, which will automatically trigger significant delays. And in a decisive victory for Native American rights, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, a federal judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, has just ordered Enable Midstream Partners, an energy company to completely remove a natural gas pipeline from the properties of 38 native American landowners. giving the company six months to dismantle and completely remove the structure. And on December 4, Earth Justice reported that a federal court ordered measures to remove spill risk from the Dakota Access pipeline.

Co-sponsor the OFF Act and lead the way to a 100% sustainable future.

Join the Promise to Protect Campaign.

Tell Wells Fargo to de-capitalize Keystone XL.

Donate to 350.org for a fossil-free future.

Consider becoming a valve turner. You’d be in good company!



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