Saying ‘No’ to the Keystone Pipeline

Little Thunder, a traditional dancer and indigenous activist from the Lakota tribe, dances as he demonstrates in front of the White House during a protest march and rally in opposition to the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When numerous American Indian groups protested the Trump Administration’s approval of the Dakota access and the Keystone XL pipelines, this particular cause struck a chord in me particularly. Having a racial background of American Indian on both sides of my family; 4 Native American Tribes in particular (Chickasaw, Mohawk, Blackfoot & Cherokee), you could say that I absolutely have a bias in this issue. As well as a having a ‘dog in this fight’ mentality.

However, this mentality should not be reserved only for who the building of the Keystone pipelines personally effects. But rather, this social cause should unnerve, upset and empower anyone who has a concern over the health and cultural ‘stifling’ of others.

To give you some background on this issue, the KeyStone Pipeline is a pipeline system which runs in both Canada and the United States. All the way from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to various oil refineries found in Texas and sites in the state of Illinois. Additionally, this Pipeline also crosses into the oil pipeline center in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Phase One of the Keystone Pipeline first began in 2008. This portion of the pipeline runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Steele City, Nebraska Junction and then further onto the Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Illinois. Construction for phase two began in 2010, two years after Obama won the 2008 presidential election.

Phase Two connected the Phase One portion of the pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska to the oil hub and tank farm in Cushing, Oklahoma.

A view from the front
Proposed and Approved phases of the Keystone XL Pipeline Photo: A View From the Right

Phase Three began in the Summer of 2012, shortly before Obama’s second term in the White House. This pipeline connected Phase Two of the Pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma, passing thru Liberty County, Texas all the way to Nederland, Texas. The second part of Phase three, known as the Houston Lateral Pipeline, started in 2013 and was pre-scheduled to go online this year.

One event which causes uproar amongst the American Indian community and brought this cause into prominence was when the final phase four of the pipeline was proposed in 2015, which was later shot down by the Obama administration. This proposed pipeline access is intended to run from the original phase one location of Hardisty, Alberta entering the United States in Morgan, Montana, traveling thru Baker, Montana and South Dakota, joining the existing phase two pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska. In 2015, under the Obama Administration, this phase four was rejected despite initial approval from the Obama Administration.

During the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, President Trump signed presidential memorandums which supported the revamping of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines and the final phase four. Trump believed this order would eliminate an environmental review which would assess the damage the pipeline would have on the wildlife environment and surrounding American Indian communities thru Oil Spills, higher greenhouse gas emissions, water contamination, pollution, including damage to sacred Native American sites.

This environmental review for the Keystone pipeline has been described by President Trump as being “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process”. This kind of ‘rush through it’ and sweep it aside mentality is one of the reasons why the Keystone Pipeline has lasted this long and has reached discussion of a phase four stage.

Aside from the numerous health disadvantages provided by the Keystone pipeline, one of the most tragic parts about this phase four proposal is the incredible damage to the legacy of American Indians. A group, who is a minority in every sense of the word, the voice of American Indians is very limited within the United States. With the pipeline destroying prehistoric and historical archeological, buildings, cultural sites across treaty lands; the voice of American Indians is no longer limited, it is being demolished.

As Jon Stewart said to the Media during his recent visit to CBS’s Steven Colbert’s Late Show, he told the Media, “It’s time to get your groove back and hold Donald Trump accountable.” While those of us in the United States may not all be members of the media, this advice from Stewart is translatable to anyone who has ever felt slighted, overlooked, and brushed aside.

It’s time! It’s time to get our groove back as a nation.

When numerous American Indian groups protested the development of the Trump administration’s approval of the Dakota access and the Keystone XL pipelines last week outside the White House, for the first time in awhile, I felt like a community whose voice had been limited was finally “getting it’s groove back”.

Updated: Via LA Times June 15, 2017, “In a decision the Standing Rock Sioux and its supporters lauded as a potential turning point, a federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to conduct additional environmental reviews of the Dakota Access pipeline, renewing the possibility the line could be shuttered at a later date.”

On July 16, 2017, “A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.” via the Indigenous Americans

For more information on supporting the opposition against the KeyStone Pipeline, visit and follow them on Twitter @greenpeaceusa.

-Tascha Halliburton, @TasHalliburton on Twitter,


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Business Leader, Philanthropist

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