In early December, 20-year-old Isabel Brooks and two of her friends locked themselves inside a segment of the Keystone XL pipeline located in Winona, Texas. The trio barricaded themselves inside to halt construction (see pictures here) and to draw attention to the dubious tactics by which TransCanada gained rights to the land.
When the morning sun rose, Brooks and her fellow activists were shocked to find sunlight piercing their eyelids. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that sunlight had illuminated gaping holes in the pipe left behind by faulty welding. See below:
Despite federal regulations making independent inspection mandatory, TransCanada pipeline contractors are permitted to choose their own pipeline inspectors. Without truly independent oversight, TransCanada can cut corners and rubber stamp inspections. The company’s existing tar sands pipeline, Keystone XL’s predecessor, has an atrocious safety record, leaking twelve times in its first year of operation.
Moments after snapping a photo of the light coming into the supposedly airtight pipe, all three protesters were arrested and held for 24 days in prison. An hour after the arrest, TransCanada laid that segment of pipeline in the ground without inspecting it. Now it sits buried, just waiting to leak oil into the backyards of Winona residents who were bullied into signing over access to their property.
The multinational corporation came to the [Holmes] family to request use of their land and seek their signature on a contract. When Lily Holmes made her disinterest clear, the company informed her plainly that if she didn’t sign, the company would just take the land through the eminent domain process it had acquired fraudulently. The company, of course, failed to disclose the fact that the pipe would carry tar sands/diluted bitumen and maintained it to be a crude oil pipeline and neglected to fully explain what the family was being asked to sign.
On February 13th, 48 leaders of the environmental movement chained themselves to the White House fence to protest expansion of the Keystone XL that would allow TransCanada to run this type of unsafe pipeline across the length of the entire country, including a section right underneath the Ogalalla aquifer which supplies drinking water to millions of Americans.
Just days later, over 35,000 Americans gathered in Washington D.C. for the biggest climate rally in U.S. history. Thousands marched and held signs challenging President Obama to keep his promises on climate action, and to permanently block expansion of the Keystone XL.
Every day, new protests are springing up all over the country. Hardworking Americans and Canadians are tired of watching their land destroyed by profit-hungry oil companies. We’re tired of politicians who ignore the will of the people. We’re tired of the industry propaganda that tells us the Keystone XL means cheap energy or plentiful jobs.
With each day that passes, TransCanada is moving ahead with the construction of this pipeline, potentially burying more un-inspected pipe and putting more communities at risk. It’s time to rise up.
Image via Tar Sands Blockade
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