Environment | Opinion

Monique Vondall-Rieke: Grassroots killed the Keystone pipeline

Tribal members showed their opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline during President Barack Obama's visit to Watertown, South Dakota, in May 2015. Photo from Indigenous Environmental Network

Monique Vondall-Rieke, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, credits tribes with raising the issues that ultimately led to the death of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline:
The November 6, 2015 announcement of the rejection of the Presidential Permit that would allow TransCanada to continue the XL Pipeline project to the Gulf of Mexico was rejected after being placed on hold by President Obama in 2011 amid conflicts of the route of the pipeline through sacred sites in Nebraska.

Prior to 2011, however, there was a smaller group effort to combat the pipeline’s approval during the Bush Administration, which widely supported TransCanada’s permitting with very little scrutiny from state and national representatives.

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate v. Unites States Department of State, 659 F.Supp.2d 1071 (2009) brought to the forefront the issues at odds with tribes and the Keystone XL Pipeline project as proposed. The issue of raised in the lawsuit, which was brought forward by not only the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, but also joined in the case that challenged the Presidential Permitting process of the project was the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska and the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The four Sioux tribes joined together to take on the Department of State, namely Condolezza Rice, and then inherited by Hillary Clinton under the Obama Administration as Secretary of State.

Decided September 29, 2009, the case was ultimately dismissed in federal court however the matter was not immediately over with as to the issues raised by the tribes.

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Monique Vondall-Rieke: How Grassroots Choked the XL Pipeline (Indian Country Today 12/22)

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