Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 10, 2011

IEN: Victory for Mother Earth on Keystone Pipeline Review!

Breaking news today on the Keystone XL Pipeline fight!

By Indigenous Environmental Network
November 10, 2011
Mother Earth Achieves a Victory Today with Obama Administration Decision to Delay the Keystone XL Pipeline Decision
TURTLE ISLAND -- The United States Department of State and President Barack Obama announced they would seek a new environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. This would delay and hopefully stop this expansion of the flow of dirty oil from the tar sands of Canada. The Indigenous Environmental Network, through its Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign and it’s Keystone XL Pipeline organizing work has successfully put an indigenous and human rights face to this dangerous and environmental destructive tar sands pipeline.
The Obama Administration decision today to delay the Keystone XL Presidential Permit decision until 2013 to evaluate other options, such as rerouting the pipeline around the Ogallala Aquifer and the Sand Hills of Nebraska buys time to strengthen the organizing work to stop the pipeline entirely. However, it is hopeful this delay will give the government the ability to offer this project the scrutiny it deserves. One of the demands the Indigenous Environmental Network has requested of the U.S. government within its pipeline environmental assessment process is the need to strengthen and ensure pipeline safety.
Today's decision by the Obama Administration is a step in the right direction – an ethical decision.
IEN has been part of a massive successful movement of Native Nations from Canada to the U.S. standing with environmental organizations, faith-based groups, youth and students, labor and rural citizens living along the proposed pipeline demonstrating opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the expansion of the tar sands.
The recent “Circle Around the White House” this past Sunday brought over 12,000 people forming a circle three time deep. Clayton Thomas-Muller, IEN Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands campaign helped coordinate Native Nation voices at the Circle with Vice President Tom Poorbear of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota representing Owe Aku speaking loud and clear against the pipeline and the tar sands.
All the nation-wide and local actions against the Keystone XL pipeline and against the expansion of the tars sands helped elevate the level of awareness of what the pipeline is all about. Hundreds of thousands of people wrote letters, made calls, and used social networking tactics mobilizing for the protection of the environment, demanding climate justice and challenging corporate power structures of oil cronyism and the Koch brother oligarchs. A big thanks and hand shake to everyone!
There is growing opposition to the Canadian tar sands. It is the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada, located with the traditional territories of Cree, Dene and M├ętis indigenous communities from where the dirty tar-like oil is taken out of the ground, devastating the ecosystem, polluting the water and causing human health illnesses and deaths. With the voices of the First Nation Chiefs such as Bill Erasmus of Northwest Territories, Canada and George Stanley, from Alberta, Canada and the voices of Native grassroots young people from the tar sands impact zone, Americans are better informed of the human rights issues connected to the pipeline.
Today’s decision by President Obama is a clear message that the tar sands are a toxic energy source, a major emitter of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, a polluter of precious water and an unsustainable type of development that violates the rights of Indigenous peoples.
For the past months, people-centered actions have brought people from all walks of life, and on both sides of the U.S. – Canadian border, questioning the energy, economic and climate policies of both countries that only deepen the addiction to dirty oil and continue global warming. We saw people starting to see the need to support a movement away from a fossil economy to an economy that respects the rights of Mother Earth.
Water is Life. Water was a major issue from the downstream communities of the tar sands in Canada to the people living in rural America along the proposed pipeline. The decision by the Obama Administration could protect a water source, the Ogallala Aquifer, that provides safe drinking water for 3 million people.
This has to become more than simply a delay. We will work to ensure this day is remembered as the beginning of the end for the tar sands.
Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network Tribal Campus Climate Challenge organizer said, ""The decision to delay the pipeline is a victory and I will gladly celebrate that victory; even if only for a moment. I live in North Dakota where the Keystone I pipeline still runs through and still has the potential to continue to leak and perhaps even be expanded. So, I will not become complacent nor quit speaking out against the Canadian tar sands until they are shut down permanently. When I begin to hear the U.S. Administration talking about alternatives to the fossil fuel industry, and the creation of green jobs, instead of alternatives to pipeline routes it will truly be music to my ears; then and only then will I know we have succeeded in protections for our Mother Earth and for the future generations."
Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network director, said, “The position taken by the Obama administration today to delay the permit for the Trans Canada Keystone XL pipeline in order to do a new environmental review is the right decision – an ethical decision. We applaud President Obama and the State Department for listening to the voices of youth, elders, faith-based groups, labor, students, environmental organizations, Native Nations, and those living along the proposed pipeline, who are standing united against dirty oil from the tar sands. This is the beginning of a new era in which people are demanding that their rights be recognized. The need to protect our sources of clean water, to fight for stabilizing climate change, and to say “No” to corporate polluters setting the agenda in Washington is now. We must not let up. The struggle for environmental and economic justice -- for energy and climate justice -- and the fight for Native Treaty Rights must continue. Mother Earth has achieved victory today.”
Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network, Keystone XL Pipeline organizer said, “I applaud President Obama for standing up for Mother Earth, and making this decision. This is an important first step to stop the expansion of the tar sands.”
White House: Office of the Press Secretary November 10, 2011
Statement by the President on the State Department’s Keystone XL Pipeline Announcement
 I support the State Department’s announcement today regarding the need to seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal.  Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood.  The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people.  At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy.