FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2020
CANCEL KXL: Promise to Protect Coalition Calls on Montana Gov. Bullock, TC Energy to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline Activity Due to Coronavirus Public Health Threat
During month of nationwide lockdown and critical “social distancing,” TC Energy rushing to send hundreds of out-of-state workers into rural, Tribal communities and build worker “man camps” that will bring increased crime and sexual violence—along with coronavirus public health threat
Lake Andes, S.D. — The Promise to Protect, a national network of Native, rural, and environmental justice groups, today called on TC Energy (formerly TransCanada Corporation) to halt all activity on its proposed Keystone XL pipeline project due to the coronavirus public health threat, and launched an online petition urging the Canadian corporation, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and other elected officials in the U.S. to take action immediately to “Cancel KXL.”
Despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, which has compelled Tribal, federal, state, and local governments to declare states of emergencies, quarantines, and bans on travel, TC Energy continues against all good judgment to move forward with work on its Keystone XL pipeline project, endangering the health of thousands of contract workers traveling to work on the pipeline, and the rural communities who will be exposed to them.
The Promise to Protect — which includes more than 35,000 people across the country who have committed to travel to the route and participate in creative resistance to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and several thousand of them participated in trainings held in 9 cities during last year — are calling on labor unions, Governors, Mayors and County Boards along the route to take action to halt all activity on Keystone XL, including any active construction of worker “man camps.”
The coalition today delivered a petition by email to Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed by 44,598 people urging the Canadian corporation and elected officials in the U.S. to take action immediately to halt construction during the coronavirus public health emergency. TC had announced imminent plans to begin construction in Montana on April 1st, but after outreach from Gov. Bullock to Alberta premier Jason Kenney, that action has been delayed.
TC Energy plans to send hundreds of workers into rural communities to build a half dozen “man camps” across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska — temporary housing where hundreds or even thousands of pipeline workers live together in close quarters throughout months of pipeline construction in close proximity to very rural towns, and reservation and treaty lands. Rural hospitals and Indian Health Service facilities along the proposed route are already ill-equipped to deal with the coronavirus public health threat, and must not be exposed to this additional strain and threats from the influx of thousands of out-of-state workers that would accompany the launch of what is clearly a “non-essential” construction project like the Keystone XL pipeline.
Over the past weeks, many cities have instituted bans on construction projects, including Boston, San Francisco, and New York; in Pennsylvania, construction on a Shell ethane cracker plant and further construction of the proposed Mariner East pipeline have been halted. Meanwhile, TC Energy has yet to acknowledge the inherent threat that its man camps and hundreds of outside workers would pose to rural and Tribal communities.
In addition to threatening rural and Tribal communities with man camps, TC Energy is also needlessly endangering Tribal governments, rural counties’ elected officials, county commissioners, government employees, and concerned citizens. Despite the public health threat, these parties are being forced by TC Energy to continue processing and filing opposition to its various applications for county-level Keystone XL construction permits, road haul agreements, and preparations to build the man camps.
TC Energy has not yet secured all the required local, state, and federal permits to move forward with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, nor has it acquired the necessary easements from the landowners in Nebraska, who have active cases challenging eminent domain seizures of their land in court. In addition, permits for the project issued by the Trump administration are currently facing three federal lawsuits, further impeding the project’s completion.
“CANCEL KXL” PETITION: https://nokxlpromise.org/covid-19/
VIDEO feat. Faith Spotted Eagle:
PHOTOS: View and download photos of Faith Spotted Eagle and Brave Heart Society members with the solar-equipped “Standing Strong and Protecting” Tiny House. The tiny house was scheduled to tour communities along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route to raise awareness of the dangers of increased crime and sexual violence — especially targeting indigenous women — posed by worker mancamps, before its postponement due to the coronavirus public health threat. (Media: photos for publication with attribution to photographer Jen Cohen.)
“Pipelines over the safety of people is a clear and present danger to the health and wellbeing of our people,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, Brave Heart Society. “Make no mistake this is blatantly setting the stage for land directed sexual violence and complete disregard for life. This purports the view that we are dispensable and not grievable. Who gives anyone the right to do that? Not going to happen on our watch!”
“It is unethical and down right dangerous for TC Energy to send hundreds of workers into rural communities during this pandemic,” said Dallas Goldtooth, campaigner for Indigenous Environmental Network. “Native communities are already at risk for sexual violence associated with transient oil company workers, and now add in the risk of Covid-19 infection? We have to draw the line in defense of our families.”
“TC Energy is not concerned about protecting the planet and has no regard for the people the pipeline project will affect. Proceeding with construction on the pipeline will only increase risk to all people and contribute to this growing public health pandemic.If TC Energy proceeds with construction, let it be known that Indigenous people and our allies will be there to battle it. TC Energy you are not welcome on our lands and we will fight to protect our land and our people. If you can’t honor the shelter in place orders we will have no choice but to enforce our own.” Said Nick Tilsen, President & CEO of NDN Collective.
“We are devastated by the decision to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline as our Nation faces the coronavirus pandemic,” said Lewis Grassrope of Wiconi Un Tipi. “We are here and will continue to stand in solidarity and unity to protect our families and our homelands.”
“For a company that runs countless ads in our rural communities on what good neighbors they are, this sure is a bad look for TC Energy,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska. “Our communities are strained as it is for medical supplies and hospital beds. TC energy must put an end to workers coming to our small towns as the pandemic grows across our country.”
350.org North America Director Tamara Toles O’Laughlin said, “Shame on TC Energy and the governments who enabled them to use this global health crisis as an excuse to prop up their dirty pipeline. Throwing billions of dollars into this disastrous project that violates Indigenous rights, adds to an epidemic of violence against Missing Murdered Indigenous Women, defies climate science and puts land and water from Alberta to the Gulf Coast at risk is preposterous. We’re in the midst of a global health crisis, and using that to push a pipeline is shameful, especially when so many communities are in need. With construction delayed to later this month in Montana, we urge Governor Bullock to put a final halt to construction through the state. We must stop Keystone XL and once and for all diminish the industry’s ability to expand, while ignoring the costs to people and the planet. This moment will determine our livelihood, health and the status of our climate.”
“TC Energy is putting their workers and our communities at risk by recklessly moving forward with construction on the Keystone XL pipeline amid this public health crisis, when experts are urging us to isolate in order to protect people’s lives,” said Summer Nelson, Director of the Sierra Club Montana Chapter. “TC Energy executives aim to ram this disastrous tar sands project forward without addressing the many concerns of communities and tribes along the route, and at a time when we need everyone to work together to protect our communities. It is time for them to stand on the right side of history and abandon this costly, polluting project and protect public health.”
“This is public endangerment,” said John Harter, Board Chair of Dakota Rural Action. “Not only is the pipeline itself a danger to the public, but with the current coronavirus emergency it is doubly so. Bringing in workers to build a pipeline creates a pipeline for the virus to enter and spread in our rural communities.”
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