Mark Ruffalo and Keystone pipeline fighters double down on resistence
The ‘Promise to Protect’, endorsed by dozens of groups, activists and celebrities, urges all who can to sign up for future mass resistance along the Keystone XL pipeline route. Here’s the statement from the coalition backing the “Promise to Protect.”
By Dan Bacher
Lower Brule, SD — In response to today’s decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission opening the door for construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, Indigenous peoples, farmers and ranchers living along the pipeline route, with the larger climate movement behind them, are calling for peaceful resistance against the project. The decision comes only days after more than 200,000 gallons spilled from the first Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.
A letter published today outlines the “Promise to Protect,” which urges everyone who can to commit to join peaceful creative resistance along the pipeline route when the call is put out by leaders on the ground. Indigenous peoples, farmers, ranchers, and local and national organizations are leading the charge in this renewed fight against Keystone XL. Dozens of grassroots leaders, organizations, and celebrities are endorsing the call to action. This letter was released alongside a treaty signed by Native leaders, tribal council members, rural landowners, non-Native supporters and allies in a shared commitment to stop the expansion of the Canadian tar sands.
Endorsers of the “Promise to Protect” include:
Harold C. Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Dave Flute, Chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe
Morgan LittleSun, Kitkahaki Chief of the Pawnee Nation
Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
Faith Spotted Eagle, a member of the Yankton Sioux Nation and the Brave Heart Society
Joye Braun of the Wakpa Waste Camp in Cheyenne River
Lewis Grassrope of the Wiconi un Tipi Camp in Lower Brule
Judith LeBlanc, with the Native Organizers Alliance
Dallas Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network
Thomas Tonatiuh Lopez Jr., International Indigenous Youth Council
Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, Organizer Indigenous Peoples Power Project
Mark Ruffalo, climate advocate and actor
Naomi Klein, author and activist
Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. from the Hip Hop Caucus
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org
Murshed Zaheed, Political Director at CREDO
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA
and many more.
The fight against Keystone XL reignited in the first week of Trump’s presidency, when the president announced plans to reopen negotiations with TransCanada — the company behind the project — as part of his pro-fossil fuel agenda. In March, the Trump administration approved a Presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the same permit rejected by President Obama in 2015. Obama’s decision, in which he cited climate as his reason for rejecting Keystone XL, followed a years-long campaign against the project that included sit-ins at the White House, tens of thousands joining days of action, and millions of people engaging in this fight across the world.
The “Promise to Protect” will build on years of fierce resistance along the Keystone XL route and across the nation. Just this August, hundreds of people, including farmers and Indigenous leaders from across the midwest, marched in Nebraska ahead of the Public Service Commission (PSC) hearings on whether to grant TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, their final construction permit. Hundreds of thousands of written comments against Keystone XL were delivered to the PSC at that time. Beginning this past summer, pipeline fighters launched the “Solar XL” campaign to build solar arrays, a clean and renewable energy solution to climate change, directly in the route of Keystone XL.
With today’s decision, pipeline fighters will continue fighting against TransCanada’s disregard for the rights of Indigenous peoples, farmers, and ranchers in court and in the streets. Nebraskans will challenge the decision, and at the same time, new efforts have launched in Canada to shut down the tar sands mine that would feed the Keystone XL pipeline. The fight against Keystone XL is about the choice to continue to build dirty fossil fuel projects or invest in communities and the solutions needed to address the climate crisis.
Further information about the “Promise to Protect” and the many ways to get involved can be found at www.nokxlpromise.org.
Faith Spotted Eagle, member of the Yankton Sioux Nation:
“Nothing has changed at all in our defense of land, air and water of the Oceti Sakowin Lands. If anything, it has become more focused, stronger and more adamant after Standing Rock. It’s clear that the Trump administration, through its dirty energy policies, is intent on destroying our homelands with no regard to any group; we are all seen as dispensable, taxable, and voiceless. Native and non-Natives are rising up for now, for the future and certainly for the coming elections.”
Joye Braun, leader of the Wakpa Waste Camp at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota:
“We are excited to join in the Promise to Protect. This promise is a pledge that we will rise to protect the sacred — the water, land, and people that would be affected by this black snake that’s threatening the most vulnerable. How that looks is going depend on capacity and be inline with the frontline communities most impacted. For us, this is my home, literally my home, my children, and my grandchildren, that will be affected.”
Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe:
“Crazy Horse prophesized that all people would unite under the Sacred Tree of Life-it’s time all people Unite on Turtle island for all our Mni Wiconi waterways pouring down from the North through the Mississippi River into the Gulf. We work to stop this desecration. Our waterways are our Sacred Tree of Life.”
Dave Flute, Chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe:
“I am highly disappointed that our neighboring state of Nebraska voted to continue with the KXL pipeline. I hope our sister state of Nebraska can see what the Keystone TransCanada pipeline will bring to their communities. In Northeast, South Dakota, we have experienced a large leak of oil. INitial reports are that it was over 200,000 gallons. Now, we are hearing it is upward towards 500,000 gallons. This leak is detrimental to our environment. TransCanada has made promises and assurances to the tribes and states that this pipeline would be state of the art. We were told the probability of a spill and/or leak would be highly unlikely, yet here we are just a few short years after this pipeline was constructed. We are experiencing a massive leak.”
Morgan LittleSun, Kitkahaki Chief of the Pawnee Nation:
“I believe there’s still hope. I came up here to represent the Pawnee Nation. I’m sad to hear that it was voted the way it was, but there’s still hope. We came here to pray and support. There’s still faith it will be rejected. Our prayers are going to continue to be with the people. We’re here to do what we can to support the people and fight the pipeline. That’s why we’re here. We’re ready for battle.”
Thomas Tonatiuh Lopez Jr., International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC):
“The decision to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline comes to no surprise to us. A year ago the IIYC was founded and vowed to protect all land, water and treaty rights. Through prayer and non-violent direct action to the IIYC stands behind our elders, clan mothers and chiefs to ensure the safety of the next seven generations. Indigenous youth around the world have united and will continue to be the change we expect to see in the world.”
Lewis Grassrope, KXL veteran and leader of the Wiconi un Tipi Camp at the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota:
“We the oyate of Wiconi un Tipi Camp have put up camp in kul wicasa oyate to continue living and protecting this way of life for all. Where we choose to live, we choose life! We are here to continue to restore balance and save mother earth from any atrocious acts against her. To be good relatives and stand in unity with all creation for the betterment of the generations to come.”
Dallas Goldtooth, Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network:
“We are facing some challenging times in our struggle to protect the sacred integrity of mother earth, but we remain committed to peaceful action. The Promise is a part of that commitment. We call on our allies to join this promise, plan to take action and stand with us, if called upon. Water is life and we, it’s protectors, will rise to the occasion as needed.”
Judith LeBlanc, Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma, Executive Director of Native Organizers Alliance:
“For Native peoples, to be a good relative means that we stand together. We understand that the past and the future come together in the present whenever we all, Native and non-Native, stand together. Native Organizers Alliance will put our heart into all that our relatives in Nebraska and South Dakota ask of us to prevent the KXL Pipeline from ever being built. Leading with love of the land, love of community and love for the planet will be the power needed to win.”
Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, Organizer Indigenous Peoples Power Project:
“We support the continued resistance of the KXL and all Tar Sands pipelines through Indigenous Lands. We ask for our allies to support the self-determination of Indigenous peoples. We believe in a wide variety of tactics including the use of non-violent direct action. Our network of Indigenous Trainers will continue to train communities.”
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org:
“No one should give up. For seven years now public pressure has kept 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil underground, and in the process helped spawn a worldwide fight against fossil fuel infrastructure. We will work with our colleagues in the upper Midwest on the next steps to defend their land and our climate.”
May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director:
“This fight is far from over. By pushing Keystone XL onto a new route, the commission all but guaranteed more delays and hurdles for TransCanada to work through. We’ll be there with our allies pushing back on them every step of the way. Today’s decision did nothing to change the fundamental facts: Keystone XL is a disaster for our communities and the climate. It must not be built. Fighting Keystone has always been about more than one pipeline; it’s been a tipping point for the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL was a historic blow to the fossil fuel industry, and it’s exactly why Trump championed this project from day one. To build the fossil free world we need, it will take everyone’s help to stop Keystone, and all the dirty energy projects that threaten our communities and climate.”
Mark Ruffalo, climate advocate and actor:
“The Keystone XL pipeline permit was just approved in Nebraska. Pushed through by oil companies, Trump and people who have had their senses made dumb by money. Today the the cost of wind and solar is cheaper than oil and coal and nuclear. We will win, but we have to fight.”
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director:
“The climate can’t handle another tar sands pipeline. We won’t stand idly by while a new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline, threaten communities and puts drinking water at risk. TransCanada and the other companies trying to build new tar sands pipelines will continue to face a wall of resistance until each and every one of these projects is cancelled.”
Lydia D. Avila, Executive Director, Power Shift Network:
“The momentum to end the control of oil over our country is undeniable. Young people all over the world are standing up to Trump and his fossil fuel lackies- from the halls of COP23; to the courtrooms of Minnesota’s PUC, going head-to-head with Enbridge; to state capitals just this past Saturday, November 18th. Now, we promise to continue to stand with tribes, landowners, and other leaders in the #nokxl fight until we win. And we will. It’s only a matter of time.”