Washington DC, USA – TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline has been approved by United States President Donald Trump. The pipeline’s stated purpose is to ship diluted bitumen from the Canadian tar sands to refineries in the United States and then to export terminals to the broader world market.
The approval of the northern portion of the KXL pipeline reverses the November 6th, 2015 U.S. State Department decision which rejected the pipeline stating it did not serve the United State’s interests. The Obama administration’s decision came after years of #NoKXL protests that saw a million people march in New York City and hundreds arrested in front of the White House.
This approval comes as the Dakota Access Pipeline, which the Trump administration also recently pushed through, nears completion. The response to the resistance against DAPL shows the United States government’s willingness to use force to ensure the completion of a fossil fuel project. The #NoDAPL movement saw months of legal battles and protests which culminated in a seven month encampment.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) December 3, 2016
The encampment, populated with water protectors made of indigenous people from across the globe and their non-native allies, would eventually be evicted by hundreds of police, military, and federal agents working together, along side private security behind a wall of armored vehicles, automatic weapons, snipers, and helicopters.
The Morton County Sheriff would later announce that no weapons were found at the camps.
With the militarized response to protest encampments in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s unknown how resistance movements will respond to the recent Keystone XL approval. Resistance against DAPL was much like resistance against the Keystone XL Pipeline, which has a storied history of protests and resistance pledges.
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) March 4, 2014
Some the actions in Texas against the Keystone XL included lockdowns and a 2012 wall erected in the path of the pipeline, but those actions were unable to stop the southern portions completion.
In Oklahoma, in 2013, direct actions against Keystone XL included lockdowns, and protests to hinder the southern legs construction, but despite activists’ efforts, the pipeline would be completed from Cushing, OK, to the Gulf Coast.
Indigenous-led resistance also occurred against the Keystone XL. In 2013, tribal entities led treaty meetings to draft resolutions to defend each others treaty lands against fossil fuel infrastructure encroachment that threatened their future generations.
Throughout 2014, Indigenous grassroots organizers led trainings in nonviolent direct action, in a series of events called “Moccasins on the Ground.”
In 2014, a series of spirit camps, much like Sacred Stone Camp, were also erected in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Despite these previous efforts against Keystone XL, it’s northern portion is now greenlit for construction.
Presidential approval of the Keystone XL not only revives the project but also the history of direct action and protest tactics that were used against the pipeline. With the recent willingness for state and federal entities to collude with private security mercenaries and use militarized force against unarmed people, it’s uncertain what the coming resistance will look like.
The state of South Dakota is already preparing for renewed Keystone XL protests and passed laws against protests which may mimic previously seen anti-pipeline tactics. Reports of alleged sabotage against the Dakota Access Pipeline from unknown persons have been shared with the public, and the United States, under the Trump regime, continues to embrace fossil fuel energy production, despite an ever increasing bleak climate outlook.