By John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper
One year ago, I stood in solidarity with thousands of Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota to stop the flow of dirty and dangerous Bakken crude oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We were there in peaceful protest with tribal members of the Standing Rock Sioux, camped along the Missouri River to protect their homeland, historic and sacred sites and the drinking water of millions of Americans.
Earlier this week in Amherst, South Dakota, less than 300 miles from Standing Rock and 22 miles west of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Reservation, TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline broke pouring at least 210,000 gallons of crude out of the line. Occurring just days before an expected decision by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL, this spill once again highlights the danger of these pipelines to our nation’s waterways.
Permission to construct Keystone XL had been denied during the Obama administration but revived by President Trump just days after his inauguration — almost as if an act of revenge against anything environmentally responsible. Just like the Dakota Access, the Keystone pipelines run through the heart of the Sioux Nation, violating treaty rights on sovereign land along the way.
As we are all well aware, it is not if a pipeline will leak, but when. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, during the first half of 2017 alone, there were 305 fossil fuel pipeline incidents and accidents, releasing tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas and liquid fuel that have not been recovered.
As Water Protectors gather in Amherst this weekend to once again call attention to this threat to our waterways, it is essential to remember that the United States government has a responsibility to honor its treaties with Native Americans and protect our land and water for all. I urge everyone to contact Mike Hybl, Executive Director of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and ask him to stand on the right side of history by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
*Photo by the author