This morning near Winnesboro, Texas, three protestors chained themselves to logging machinery used to clear trees in the pathway of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is the most recent in a series of protests designed to delay construction of the southern end of the controversial pipeline.
The northern leg of Keystone XL, which runs from Alberta’s tar sands south to Steele City, Nebraska, is under additional review by the State Department. The Department will likely complete its analysis by early 2013. Transcanada, the company behind the pipeline, agreed to reroute the northern section after major concerns were raised about the impacts it could have on Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer.
But construction has already begun on the southern leg of the pipeline, which runs from Cushing, Oklahoma to various refineries in southern Texas. Construction on the “Gulf Coast segment” of the pipeline began in early August after President Obama directed his administration to “make this project a priority” in March. (A third, middle portion running from Steele City to Cushing is already online).
We don’t make the decision lightly. The fact is, other tactics – lobbying, petitioning, and packing public hearings – have failed to halt the pipeline. State authorities have bent to every TransCanada desire, and they show no signs of stopping now.
This morning’s protest is the fourth demonstration of civil disobedience by local landowners, climate activists, and young people in Texas. In early September, near Saltillo, Texas, a handful of protesters chained themselves to logging equipment, delaying construction for a day. In August, seven protesters locked themselves to a truck carrying pipe to the construction site, right after Transcanada was allowed to seize private land using eminent domain for pipeline construction. And in early August, organizers hung banners at equipment staging areas in Texas and Oklahoma.
Transcanda has not commented on the protests, although its CEO said in July upon approval of the southern section that “TransCanada is now poised to put approximately 4,000 Americans to work constructing the $2.3 billion pipeline….”
Last September, more than 1,200 citizens were arrested in front of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. And NASA climatologist James Hansen has warned that exploitation of Canada’s tar sands is “game over for the climate.”
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Public Lands Project.