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32268Keystone XL pipeline report stirs Indian country

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  • Romi Elnagar
    Feb 7, 2014

      Bryan Brewer

      Keystone XL Pipeline report stirs Indian country
      By Talli Nauman
      Native Sun News
      Health & Environment Editor
      WASHINGTON — Native Americans across the Great Plains vowed to double down on their commitment to block construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL tar-sands crude-oil pipeline after the U.S. State Department announced a final supplemental environmental impact statement for it Jan. 31.
      “There is direct conflict of interest in the report issued by the State Department, and a new report which reflects the true environmental impact is needed,” Honor the Earth Founder and Director Winona LaDuke said Feb. 1.
      She called for recognition of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s leadership in opposing the pipeline.
      “They have done what is right for the land, for their people, who, from grassroots organizers like Owe Aku and Protect the Sacred, have called on their leaders to stand and protect their sacred lands.
      Owe Aku (“Take Back the Way”) and Protect the Way have been conducting direct action training for pipeline resisters and an intertribal campaign that has encouraged officials to sign a plethora of individual and joint resolutions against the pipeline.
      “KXL will not cross their treaty territory, which extends past the reservation boundaries. Their horses are ready. So are ours,” LaDuke declared. “We all need to stand with them.”
      Oglala tribal officials have signed resolution after resolution opposing the pipeline, the most recent emanating from the Health and Human Services Committee in January.
      “We are ready to fight the pipeline and our horses are ready,” Tribal President Bryan Brewer stated at a 2013 meeting with State Department representatives.
      Tribal Vice President Tom Poor Bear has announced the second tribally supported gathering in Rapid City to rally against the pipeline, this one on Feb. 13-14.
      All the other tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin, also have rejected the notion of the pipeline crossing their treaty territory and the Ogallala Aquifer.
      “We stand with the Lakota Nation; we stand on the side of protecting sacred water; we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways, which will not be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline,” LaDuke said in a written statement.
      She urged organization of events as part of a Feb. 3 global rally date proposed by climate protection activists opposing the pipeline, including Oil Change International, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, The Other 98%, Center for Biological Diversity, Bold Nebraska, Energy Action Coalition, The Hip Hop Caucus, Overpass Light Brigade, Environmental Action, Waterkeeper Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Forest Ethics, Forecast the Facts, 350.org and others.
      “We need to show the media, big oil and the President that we, as indigenous peoples ... are mobilized and unafraid. We will defend our lives, and our Mother Earth, and we need Barack Obama to do the same.”
      President Obama has sent the Keystone XL impact statement back to the drawing board twice, despite pressure from Congress, Canada and foreign business. The last time he said a permit deeming it “in the national interest” of the United States will depend on its climate-change implications.
      The State Department had to prepare the impact statement because the Canadian corporate proponent is asking for a U.S. Presidential Permit to cross the U.S. border with a 1,179-mile pipeline from Alberta Province through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
      In his Jan. 28 State of the Union address Obama emphasized his administration’s commitment “to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods.”
      New information contained in the impact statement is expected to inform Secretary of State John Kerry’s recommendation to Obama in the Presidential Permit process.
      “This document is only one factor that will be coming into the review process for this permit,” Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones cautioned in a conference announcing its release. “It is not a decision document. And it does not make any recommendations about approving or denying the application,” she said.
      The report finds “that the oil produced from the oil sands is more carbon-intensive than the average oil used in the U.S. by about 17 percent, and it is slightly more intensive than the heavy crude oil it would be replacing, ranging from 2 to 10 percent,” she said.
      However, it notes that “the approval or denial of any given single project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction of the oil sands or the refining of heavy crude on the U.S. Gulf Coast.”
      It reviews costs of different transportation modes and alternate routes, as well as “considerations related to water, land, the cultural resources. It looks at wildlife and endangered species questions,” she said.
      The impact statement follows in the wake of mounting reports about tar-sands oil spills from pipelines and rail cars. DILBIT SPILLS PLAGUE TAR-SANDS TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY
      Diluted bitumen, or dilbit, the toxic slurry that facilitates shipment of the heavy crude material, is easier to clean up on land but more complicated in water bodies than cleanup of conventional oil spills, according to the findings.
      TransCanada’s Keystone I Pipeline spilled 14 times in the first year of operations on the route from Canada through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
      The Enbridge Line 6B Pipeline in Michigan created the biggest inland oil spill in the United States, when it ruptured in 2010, causing closure of 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and a dilbit cleanup that has continued for four years at a cost of more than $809 million. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.’s Pegasus Pipeline spilled some 80,000 gallons of Canadian tar-sands crude in toxic slurry into a northern suburb of Little Rock, Arkansas, March 29. The dilbit was being shipped to the Texas Gulf Coast.
      More crude oil was spilled last year in railcar incidents than in the previous 37 years combined, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In addition to spectacular railway spills in North Dakota and Alabama, Canada had its share.
      TransCanada Corp. issued a response to the impact statement, noting the document draws the conclusion that “all other alternatives to Keystone XL are less efficient methods of transporting crude oil, resulting in significantly more greenhouse gas emissions, oil spills and risks to public safety.”
      It continues: “The incorporation of 59 special conditions and dozens of other extra spill prevention and mitigation measures will ensure that Keystone XL will ‘have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current code’.”
      TransCanada Corp. President and CEO Russ Girling welcomed the environmental analysis. “I believe that this project continues to be in the national interest of the United States for two main reasons: supporting U.S. energy security and the thousands of jobs our multi-billion dollar project will create,” he said in a written statement.
      Keystone XL would mean approximately 42,100 direct, indirect and induced jobs worth approximately $2 billion in earnings, according to the report. The findings show the project would contribute some $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and provide a substantial increase in tax revenues for local counties along the pipeline route, with 17 of 27 counties expected to see tax revenues increase by 10 per cent or more,” TransCanada noted.
      LaDuke and other detractors point out that the State Department’s consultant for the report had previously worked as a contractor for TransCanada, which they consider a conflict of interest.
      A public comment period was set to start on Feb. 5, and last for 30 days.
      (Contact Talli Nauman, He