Citizens of the Omaha Tribe join opponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline at the Nebraska State Capitol building in Lincoln on November 20, 2017, after state regulators approved the pipeline's route in the state. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

TransCanada sticks with Keystone XL Pipeline amid tribal opposition

The Canadian firm behind the Keystone XL Pipeline remains committed to the controversial project amid opposition in Indian Country.

TransCanada on Thursday reaffirmed its plans for the pipeline, even after regulators in Nebraska approved a different route in their state. The firm also thanked President Donald Trump for keeping the project alive over the objections of tribes.

"Over the past 12 months, the Keystone XL project has achieved several milestones that move us significantly closer to constructing this critical energy infrastructure for North America," Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.

Tribes believe the crude oil pipeline will harm historic sites, water resources and the environment. The path in Nebraska, for example, crosses the Ponca Trail of Tears – the route taken by ancestors of the Ponca Tribe when they were forced to leave the state in 1877.

The pipeline also crosses through territories promised to tribes through treaties signed in the late 1800s. Activists have established the Wiconi Un Tipi Camp on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in neighboring South Dakota to resist the project.

Indianz.Com Video by Kevin Abourezk: Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

Tribes are worried about spills too. The original Keystone I Pipeline has already leaked oil twice near the home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota.

Indian Country thought Keystone XL was dead after former president Barack Obama rejected a necessary permit back in November 2015. But everything changed once Trump came into power a year ago this month.

Four days after taking office, he invited TransCanada to resubmit its application. Barely two months later, the U.S. Department of State announced the approval of the permit.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is challenging the permit with a lawsuit in federal court in Montana. The group accuses the Trump administration of failing to consider all of the social, cultural and health impacts of the pipeline.

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