The Tar Sands Blockade has made its way back to Oklahoma.
The group intent on blocking construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline launched its civil disobedience campaign in August, but its efforts largely have been focused in Texas.
Protesters chained themselves to equipment, took refuge in the trees and even tried taking over developer TransCanada’s offices in Houston and other cities, but the company says they have not done anything to disrupt the project.
“Once again, those who protest against the project fail to understand they are attempting to stand in the way of thousands of jobs for the best pipeline workers in the world, their actions are an unsuccessful publicity stunt designed to weaken America’s relationship with its strongest energy partner, and they seek to deny American energy producers a way to meet U.S. demand for more domestic energy,” spokesman James Prescott told The Oklahoman.
“Fortunately, their efforts have not delayed construction of Keystone Pipeline Gulf Coast Project. Everyday, 4,000 pipeliners are making progress to meet the goal of completion in mid-2013 and the start of operations by the end of the year.”
Construction of the so-called Gulf Coast project began in Oklahoma in November after TransCanada secured the necessary permits for the 485-mile pipeline, which will transport up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the storage hub at Cushing to refineries in the Houston area.
Opponents of the project insist it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen because of the toxic Canadian oil it will carry. Recently some have argued that the diluted bitumen from Canada does not fit the legal definition of crude oil.
“They lied to us about what’s going to be pumped through this pipe. They have strong-armed Oklahomans and Texans into signing contracts. Our rivers, especially the North and South Canadian that feed into Lake Eufaula, our drinking water aquifers, and our native lands are at risk, and they simply do not care,” said Earl Hatley, riverkeeper of the Grand River watershed.
On Thursday, protesters walked onto an easement in Stroud where pipe was being laid on Sac and Fox Nation land.