Lakota activist Debra White Plume protested against the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington.

Indians Celebrate Pipeline Postponement, Express Caution

Rob Capriccioso
11/11/11

WASHINGTON—Indian activists are taking a victory lap given their role in the recent announcement of the postponement of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration. Some also wish that President Barack Obama would have rejected the development altogether right here and now, rather than postponing it until after he faces a reelection battle in November 2012.

Indian Country Today Media Network is highlighting a few of the statements from key indigenous organizers below. We will add to it throughout the day as reactions come in.

“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 today.”

– Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

“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.”

--Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network, Keystone XL Pipeline organizer

"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, which the Keystone I pipeline still runs through and still has the potential to continue to leak and perhaps even be expanded.  So I will neither 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 future generations."

--Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network Tribal Campus Climate Challenge organizer

“President Obama, in my opinion, has released a statement that is very disappointing. I believe he is playing politics now. A statement to DENY the TransCanada dirty oil pipeline would have demonstrated that he is walking his talk. However, to postpone a decision until after the election next year does put a huge economic price tag on the project that TransCanada may not be willing to pay, thus scuttling their plan, causing them reroute directly out of Canada and staying out of North America. That action by the corporation will just put their weapon of mass destruction into the First Nations communities it must run thru to get to the west coast of Canada. Wherever they plan to run this pipeline, there will be a fight, either here or in Canada. We need to shut down the tarsands oil mine. Then there will no need for a pipeline anywhere.”

--Lakota activist Debra White Plume in a statement on Facebook

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