Statement of the: Indigenous Environmental Network November 11, 2011
Mother Earth Achieves a Victory Today with Obama Administration Decision
to Delay the Keystone XL Pipeline Decision
Turtle Island-The United States Department of State and President Barack
Obama announced they would seek a new environmental review of the Keystone
XL pipeline. This will delay and hopefully stop the Trans Canada
Corporation from pursuing to build the 1,700 mile long Keystone XL
pipeline. The pipeline is part of the expansion of the flow of dirty oil
from the tar sands of Canada. The Indigenous Environmental Network,
through its Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign and its Keystone XL
Pipeline organizing work has successfully put an indigenous and human
rights face to this dangerous and environmental destructive tar sands
The Obama Administration decision to delay the Keystone XL Presidential
Permit decision until 2013 to evaluate other options, such as rerouting
the pipeline around the Ogalalla Aquifer and the Sand Hills of Nebraska
buys time to strengthen the organizing work to stop the pipeline entirely.
However, it is hopeful this delay will give the government the ability to
offer this project the scrutiny it deserves. One of the demands the
Indigenous Environmental Network has requested of the U.S. government
within its pipeline environmental assessment process is the need to
strengthen and ensure pipeline safety overall, in the U.S.
Yesterday’s decision by the Obama Administration is a small step in the
right direction – an ethical decision. We say ethical, as a challenge to
the conservative pro-oil people that try to spin Canadian tar sands oil as
“ethical oil”. We are cautious. The overall fight to shut down the tar
sands and all its pipeline infrastructures still remains.
IEN has been part of a massive successful movement of Native Nations from
Canada to the U.S. standing with environmental organizations, faith-based
groups, youth and students, labor and rural citizens living along the
proposed pipeline demonstrating opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and
the expansion of the tar sands.
The recent “Circle Around the White House” this past Sunday brought over
12,000 people forming a circle three time deep. Clayton Thomas-Muller, IEN
Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands campaign helped coordinate Native Nation
voices at the Circle with Vice President Tom Poorbear of the Oglala Sioux
Tribe and Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota representing Owe Aku speaking
loud and clear against the pipeline and the tar sands.
All the nation-wide and local actions against the Keystone XL pipeline and
against the expansion of the tars sands helped elevate the level of
awareness of what the pipeline is all about. Hundreds of thousands of
people wrote letters, made calls, and used social networking tactics
mobilizing for the protection of the environment, demanding climate
justice and challenging corporate power structures of oil cronyism and the
Koch brother oligarchs. A big thanks and hand shake to everyone!
There is growing opposition to the Canadian tar sands. It is the tar sands
in northern Alberta, Canada, located with the traditional territories of
Cree, Dene and Métis indigenous communities from where the dirty tar-like
oil is taken out of the ground, devastating the ecosystem, polluting the
water and causing human health illnesses and deaths. With the voices of
the First Nation Chiefs such as Bill Erasmus of Northwest Territories,
Canada and George Stanley, from Alberta, Canada and the voices of Native
grassroots young people from the tar sands impact zone, Americans are
better informed of the human rights issues connected to the pipeline.
The decision by President Obama is a clear message that the tar sands are
a toxic energy source, a major emitter of greenhouse gases contributing to
climate change, a polluter of precious water and an unsustainable type of
development that violates the rights of Indigenous peoples.
For the past few months, people-centered actions have brought people from
all walks of life, and on both sides of the U.S. – Canadian border,
questioning the energy, economic and climate policies of both countries
that only deepen the addiction to dirty oil and continue global warming.
We saw people starting to see the need to support a movement away from a
fossil economy to an economy that respects the rights of Mother Earth.
Water is Life. Water was a major issue from the downstream communities of
the tar sands in Canada to the people living in rural America along the
proposed pipeline. The decision by the Obama Administration could protect
a water source, the Ogallala Aquifer that provides safe drinking water for
3 million people.
We are keeping all eyes open, and ears to the ground. There are other tar
sands pipeline proposals such as the Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway
pipeline project that would stretch from Alberta’s tar sands to a new port
to be built in Kitimat, on British Columbia’s west coast. From there, over
225 crude oil tankers would travel B.C.’s northern inside coastal waters
for export to international markets. Opposition to the Northern Gateway
pipeline and related tanker traffic is strong and growing, in particular
in light of Enbridge’s recent oil spills in Illinois and Michigan.
Just a week ago, Obama announced his administration’s lifting of a
moratorium on offshore oil exploration and now pursuing so-called
“moderate” expansion of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic oceans of
Alaska. The five-year plan, released by the US Interior Department,
proposes to prepare a five-year schedule of oil and gas lease sales in
both the Beaufort and Chukchi to oil companies for oil drilling.
We are fully aware, despite the delay; it is still “business as usual”.
This has to become more than simply a delay. We will work to ensure this
moment is remembered as the beginning of the end for the tar sands.
Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner, Indigenous Environmental
Networks’ Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign says: “Did we win the war
against big oil, no. Did we win this battle against big oil, yes! To date
there is a 1.9 billion cost overrun for Trans Canada as a result of our
campaign. This 12 to 18 month delay means investor confidence loss for
Trans Canada-pipeline. We must continue to be vigilant as we have another
half dozen other infrastructure choke points we need to target in the
strategy to stop the Tar Sands.”
Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network Tribal Campus Climate
Challenge organizer says: “The decision to delay the pipeline is a victory
and I will gladly celebrate that victory; even if only for a moment. I
live in North Dakota where the Keystone I pipeline still runs through and
still has the potential to continue to leak and perhaps even be expanded.
So, I will not become complacent nor quit speaking out against the
Canadian tar sands until they are shut down permanently. When I begin to
hear the U.S. Administration talking about alternatives to the fossil fuel
industry, and the creation of green jobs, instead of alternatives to
pipeline routes it will truly be music to my ears; then and only then will
I know we have succeeded in protections for our Mother Earth and for the
Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network says: “The position
taken by the Obama administration today to delay the permit for the Trans
Canada Keystone XL pipeline in order to do a new environmental review is
the right decision – an ethical decision. We applaud President Obama and
the State Department for listening to the voices of youth, elders,
faith-based groups, labor, students, environmental organizations, Native
Nations, and those living along the proposed pipeline, who are standing
united against dirty oil from the tar sands. This is the beginning of a
new era in which people are demanding that their rights be recognized. The
need to protect our sources of clean water, to fight for stabilizing
climate change, and to say “No” to corporate polluters setting the agenda
in Washington is now. We must not let up. The struggle for environmental
and economic justice-for energy and climate justice-and the fight for
Native Treaty Rights must continue. Mother Earth has achieved victory
Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network, Keystone XL Pipeline
organizer says: “I applaud President Obama for standing up for Mother
Earth, and making this decision. This is an important first step to stop
the expansion of the tar sands.”
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
Keystone XL Pipeline Project Review Process: Decision to Seek Additional
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2011
Statement by the President on the State Department’s Keystone XL Pipeline
I support the State Department’s announcement today regarding the need to
seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal.
Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the
American people as well as the environment, and because a number of
concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the
time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the
potential impacts are properly understood. The final decision should be
guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best
available science and the voices of the American people. At the same
time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve
made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly
expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel
efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the
development of a clean energy economy.
The Indigenous Environmental Network – PO Box 485 – Bemidji – MN – 56619