Native Sun News: Treaty defenders to see Keystone fight to end

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Native youth send message to President Barack Obama to reject Keystone XL Pipeline. Still image from YouTube

Treaty defenders cheer Obama’s veto
President listened to the Oceti Sakowin on XL pipeline
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

BEMIDJI, Minn. –– The Indigenous Environmental Network lauded U.S. President Barack Obama for heeding the call of the Oceti Sakowin in his Feb. 24 veto of a congressional bill to authorize TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL tar-sands crude-oil pipeline across treaty territory and called for an outright rejection of the proposal.

“Vetoing KXL, Obama is showing that he’s listened to the Oceti Sakowin – Seven Council Fires of the Dakota, Nakota, Lakota nations – and all people resisting the pipeline,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (EIN).

“But the fight is not over,” he added. “We need an outright rejection of the KXL permit. That would be the final nail in the coffin for Keystone XL.”

IEN noted that the failed bill was an effort to overstep the prescribed process for federal review required because a foreign corporation wants to conduct an enterprise in the jurisdiction of the United States.

The process requires that the decision be based on “the national interest.”

“We stand united with indigenous peoples across Turtle Island who are fighting against tar-sands development and infrastructure, from northern Alberta to the Great Plains to the Gulf,” Goldtooth said in a written statement. “We will see this fight through to the end.”

South Dakota rural residents allied with the Oceti Sakowin thanked the president for the action and called for a “final permit denial” to protect land, water and climate stability. The veto came at a crucial time in the Keystone XL fight, as the pipeline is facing state-level roadblocks in both South Dakota and Nebraska, according to the NO KXL Dakota organization.

“President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL bill is a victory for property rights advocates,” said Paul Seamans, long-time pipeline fighter whose South Dakota ranch would be crossed by the pipeline route.

YouTube: Message to President Obama from Lakota youth

“TransCanada has used a false promise of jobs as a means to gain the power of condemnation on America’s farmers’ and ranchers’ land,” he said. “The next step is for the outright denial of the Presidential Permit.”

In South Dakota, ranchers, farmers, tribal nations, and youth have unified in opposition to the pipeline during testimony at the Public Utilities Commission, where Trans-Canada is trying to renew its expired state permit.

In Nebraska, a judge on Feb. 12 handed down an injunction that halted TransCanada’s use of eminent domain to condemn the last parcels of land desired for the pipeline route while the state Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the project.

The statewide non-profit Dakota Rural Action (DRA) said it will continue pushing for a denial of the Presidential Permit “to prevent more tar-sands oil from being shipped across South Dakota’s valuable farms and ranches.”

The Western Organization of Resource Councils, a multi-state umbrella organization of which DRA is a member, said although the veto “marks a moment to celebrate, it is by no means the final say about this project,” and urged permit denial.

South Dakota’s U.S. Rep. Kristy Noem disagreed with the constituents, stating: “The President’s veto on Keystone was a veto on jobs, revenue for cash-strapped South Dakota counties, and much-needed relief on the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit.

“This pipeline is a commonsense place to start as we work toward a stronger energy economy, because it’s a place where Republicans and Democrats, the House and the Senate, and the overwhelming majority of Americans can find common ground,” she said. “I am hopeful this is not the end of the road for the pipeline and remain committed to doing all I can to see Keystone through,” she added.

The non-profit Bold Nebraska hoisted the slogan: “No eminent domain for private gain,” and circulated a petition, stating “There are lots of reasons [to] reject the pipeline.

“TransCanada, a foreign corporation, has taken land from U.S. farmers and ranchers through eminent domain for the pipeline route. Farmers and ranchers whose land would be crossed by the pipeline have unanswered questions about protection from oil spills.

“Damning findings by the Environmental Protection Agency on potential impacts of Keystone XL spills and its effect on the climate provide more justification to stop this controversial project,” it added.

TransCanada wants to finish its 2,639-mile pipeline from the tar-sands mines of Alberta Province to the Gulf of Mexico by pushing through 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory in present-day Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Construction of the remaining 1,179-miles of the pipeline would require 9,000 skilled workers, the Canadian company says.

It argues that the project would “support the significant growth of crude oil production in the United States” and “has the potential to reduce the amount of oil America imports from unstable regions of the world.”

It noted that an international consulting firm called IHS released a report the same day as the veto stating that “approximately 70 percent of refined products derived from the crude would be consumed in the United States.”

Editors of Tar Sands Solutions weekly review of tar sands and pipeline news and commentary said refineries that process Keystone’s diluted bitumen, or dilbit, in the United States also would produce large amounts of pet coke, a dusty black coal-like byproduct that can be exported for fuel in power plants, but is too dirty to be burned domestically.

“One of the central issues in the debate over the controversial pipeline is whether or not it would increase carbon emissions by allowing expansion of economically marginal Canadian tar sands,” the editors said.

“Without pipelines like Keystone XL, huge amounts of tar sands, and the emissions that come with it, will stay in the ground. Given this fact, it is obvious that the pipeline fails President Obama’s ‘climate test’ and is not in the national interest,” they said.

Obama has said he would only approve Keystone XL if it doesn’t significantly increase carbon emissions. Tar sands oil produces as much as three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil.

The State Department has said that Keystone XL would not impact the climate because that oil would inevitably be developed, pipeline or not.

The EPA recently asked the Administration to revisit that assessment in light of plummeting oil prices that cut into tar-sands profitability. Against that backdrop, the EPA suggests, Keystone XL might accelerate the carbon-intensive tar sands process, and therefore have a greater impact on the climate.

One of the arguments President Obama has used against the pipeline is that it won’t do anything to improve U.S. energy security.

“Understand what this project is,” Obama said at a Nov. 14 press conference. “It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.”

While the State Department has no deadline for making a permit decision, Tar Sands Solutions said the fight against the pipeline is coming to a close.

“Beginning with tribal nations and with farmers and ranchers, the opposition spread over time to climate scientists, college students, moms, financial experts, many trade unionists, renewable energy proponents, nurses, artists and an ever-growing swath of the general population. A historic number of them were arrested for this cause; millions wrote public comments, or emailed their elected officials; everyone engaged in public dialogue in precisely the fashion you have asked. Everyday people have stood up to the money on the other side, and done so with civility, firmness, creativity and passion,” it recognized.

The climate justice group agreed and urged people to continue signing on to its petition to nix the pipeline.

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