keystone xl map 270x360 NCAI Condemns Keystone XL Pipeline

Click for an enlarged version of the pipeline map (image source: US Department of State)

In a resolution issued today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has declared its official opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“Keystone XL” is the name for the expansion of the Keystone pipeline, which currently runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and Patoka, Illinois. Keystone XL would depart from Hardisty and take a more direct route to Steele City, Nebraska, parallel the extant Keystone to Cushing, then continue south to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

The NCAI resolution says that “based on the relatively poor environmental record of the first Keystone pipeline, which includes numerous spills, U.S. regulators shut the pipeline down in late May, 2011″ and concludes that “it is probable that further environmental disasters will occur in Indian country if the new pipeline is allowed to be constructed.” The resolution also acknowledges the opposition by the Association of First Nations of Canada, NCAI’s Canadian analogue, to tar sands development, and asserts that Keystone XL “would threaten, among other things, water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed.”

Click to download the full NCAI resolution in pdf format: “Opposition to Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and Urging the U.S. to Reduce Reliance on Oil from Tar Sands and Instead, to Work towards Cleaner, Sustainable Energy Solutions”

“Homeland and economic security starts with energy security, but Indian Country wants it to be done right,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel in a statement released alongside the resolution, “not at the expense of the health of our communities and resources, both tribal and non-tribal. During challenging economic times in our country and in our tribal nations, domestic energy when developed responsibly can create jobs while ensuring that our people and natural resources remain safe and plentiful.”

The Keystone XL pipeline has caused outcry from the outset, both on environmental grounds and as an enabler of the U.S.’s much-discussed “addiction” to oil. The U.S. State Department released a sunny Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in April that declared the pipeline would have “limited impact” on the environment. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency shot back with a letter critical of the State Department’s assessment, voicing serious concern over (as summarized in a report) “spill impacts, greenhouse gases and the pipeline route that goes right through a critical aquifer in Nebraska, including the Ogallala Aquifer that serves 30 percent of the nation’s agriculture.”

The NCAI resolution comes at a critical moment, as the State Department is expected to release its revised and final EIS this month.