by Jim Kent
The Treaty Alliance, an organization representing 150 U.S. and Canadian tribes, has voiced its opposition to the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. Nebraska regulators announced the decision on Monday.
Treaty Alliance members were disappointed that the pipeline would be approved only days after an associated TransCanada pipeline in South Dakota leaked more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil. In approving the Keystone XL pipeline, the Nebraska Public Service Commission noted that it “could not factor in spill considerations.”
Chairman Larry Wright, Jr. of the Ponca Tribe in Nebraska was not surprised by the decision.
“It really shows you what mentality is going on here that even in light of that leak that is half a state away from Nebraska on a scale that we don’t even know yet, how can we possibly say yes to that?” said Wright. “And yet they did. Time and time again, example after example is given and people just choose to ignore those things.”
Ponca tribal members are concerned over the impact the pipeline may have on traditional lands it will cross and the Ogallala Aquifer.
Crow Creek Tribal Chairman Brandon Sazue was among those who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation last year. Sazue believes–like the Dakota Access Pipeline and the South Dakota Keystone pipeline leak–Keystone XL is an issue that crosses all racial boundaries.
“This is a human being issue about what’s good for our environment. What’s good for children,” said Sazue.
The Crow Creek tribal chairman anticipates an even greater protest against Keystone XL than there was against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In July, Treaty Alliance members gathered together in South Dakota to oppose the Keystone XL project and tar sands expansion.