The Cowboy Indian Alliance gathers to help the Ponca Nation harvest sacred corn planted on land in the proposed path of Keystone XL. (Photo by Mark Hefflinger)

The State Department set a clear timeline for all Federal Agencies to submit comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Feb. 2, 2015. This is a big development in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.

As we told Lincoln Journal Star, our intention with supporting the new landowner lawsuits is not about pausing the federal process, it is about protecting property rights and a constitutionally-based pipeline routing law. Our allies, #nokxl Dakota, in South Dakota are also fighting at the state level to get TransCanada’s request for a re-certified construction permit rejected.

We want a decision from Pres. Obama and we will continue our struggle at the state level to get proper laws in place even when the President rejects the federal permit.

We are looking forward to a rejection from Pres. Obama and need all hands on deck as we face the final days of a very long fight.

What is the timeline for a KXL decision now?

As the normal process goes, the State Department (State Dept.) will take comments from Federal Agencies on (or before) Feb 2. They will then incorporate those into the EIS. Those comments help the State Dept. create an National Interest Determination (NID) memo.

The State Dept. then issues that NID memo publicly and the Federal Agencies have up to 10 days to comment again (agencies could all weigh in under one day for example if they have no issues with it).

Then, the State Dept. sends the NID memo and recommendation to approve or reject Keystone XL to the President.

Now, here is where things get interesting because of Congress.

The Senate voted to force the approval of Keystone XL on Jan. 29, 2015. You can see the text of the bill and all the amendments here.

Now that the bill passed (they had enough votes to pass the bill, but not enough for a veto override), the House will have to pass the exact bill which we expect to happen in the next week. The combined bill then goes to the President.

President Obama then has up to 10 days to sign the bill into law or veto the bill. If he does nothing, it automatically becomes law. The President has already said he will veto the bill. Pres. Obama has not vetoed many bills in his term, only two in fact, we expect that number to go up to three very soon.

This time frame could set up a “two-step” of a veto and rejection at the same time around the middle of Feb (how can I resist a little gif).


That is what we are hoping for. That is what all letters and calls into the White House should ask for. But, the State Dept. has also set up their process which we think brings us to the end of Feb or early March 2015.

Now, things can change rapidly. We will continue to do our best to update you guys via email and posts on our FB page as soon as we hear anything different.

What can you do to help?

Donate to the landowners’ legal fight:

Send a #veto and #reject pen to the White House:

Write a letter to Pres. Obama:
The White House, 1600 Penn. Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20500

Call and leave a message about rejecting KXL:

Write a letter to your local paper:
We have lots of facts linked below but we also have some great one pagers on a google drive you can use to write a letter to your local paper. We have tips on writing a LTE here.

Tweet and Facebook Federal Agencies, ask them to stand up for our land and water by commenting on State Dept report:
@EPA and on Facebook/ They can comment on the flawed climate analysis and show updated info on low oil prices and carbon impact. They can also comment on risks to land and water with no clear and scientific way to clean up tarsands and diluent (like benzene) out of our water. A peer-reviewed study on what a spill would do to Nebraska’s land and water was mocked by State Dept. review and must be included. The people who wrote the mocking of Dr. Stansbury report ALL WORK for TransCanada. Bold put up a post about risks to our water that should be included also. Our government knows you can’t clean up oil (remember the spill in 1979 and that wasn’t even tarsands and diluents like benzene, which are far worse)

@Interior and on Facebook/ Sec. Jewel can accept the meeting request by the Lakota Sioux which has documented concerns and treaty violations that should be included in the State Dept. report. This is of critical importance. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance will not stand for anything less than the United States respecting and recognizing the legal concerns of the Tribal Nations.

@Phmsa_DOT and on Facebook/ Ask them to make it clear that TransCanada’s pipeline had to be shut down under a Corrective Action Order because it was a risk to life and that the “47 special conditions” TransCanada brags about as proof theirs is the “safest pipeline ever built” were actually mandates from PHMSA because of concerns on this maximum pressure, huge, tarsands pipeline. Much of this documented in Public Citizens report on pipeline anomalies in Texas (this report should be given to every Member of Congress).

@USTreasury and on Facebook/ The IRS can put an end to the tarsands tax loophole. TransCanada is getting a free ride, they do not pay taxes into the Oil Spill Liability Fund.

@StateDept and on Facebook/ Ask that they use their own map and finally put an end to the question if the pipeline route still crosses the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. The answer is yes, yes the route still crosses both of these natural and critical resources to our economy and livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. See page 3.3-23. Mostly, we hope Sec. Kerry is now engaged because we know he would never let the current report stand.

On my Soapbox

Lastly, to all the Naysayers: yes this one pipeline matters to us; yes it’s a symbol, and yes it’s much more than that. It matters to our water first and foremost. It matters to the land that was homesteaded and has been in the same families’ hands since the 1800s.

It matters to the Lakota families whose ancestral roots are woven into this risky path. It matters to the Sandhills Cranes, the Bald Eagle nests and yes even the small and mighty Burying Beetle.

It matters to the trout fisherman who love the Verdigre Creek. It matters to the Build Our Energy Barn that would be torn down for this dirty pipeline. It matters to the Ponca Corn (now USDA certified) we planted in the path of the Ponca Trail of Tears which this pipeline crosses.

It matters if you care about eminent domain being used for private gain. It matters to every single one of us that have touched foot in the Sandhills and have seen the stars from this magical place. As the Starfish Story goes, it matters to this one…

Neil Young and the Nelson family asked the crowd of over 8,500 in Nebraska “Whose Gonna Stand Up?” We answered “WE ARE” knowing we are answering the call that President Obama said to us when he first ran for office. He told us to be the change. To push him. It’s now up to the President to stand up with us to protect our land, our water and our climate by showing the rejection of Keystone XL is one more step in the right direction.