Monday, April 29th: Spaulding,OK Earlier this morning two Texas residents locked themselves to machinery being used to construct TransCanada’s dangerous and controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Spaulding, OK through Muscogee Creek Nation land by treaty. Benjamin Butler and Eamon Treadaway Danzig took action today to prevent the Cross Timbers bioregion from being poisoned by this inherently dangerous tar sands pipeline, just as the surrounding wetlands and residential areas have been poisoned as a result of Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline rupture near Mayflower, Arkansas. The Gulf Coast Project is the Southern segment of TransCanada’s 7 billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to transport toxic diluted bitumen from Cushing, OK, to Gulf Coast refineries in Houston and Port Author. Recent Tar Sands spills in Minnesota and Arkansas, as well as an explosion at a Tar Sands refinery in Detroit have highlighted the urgency in stopping Tar Sands extraction and transportation.
Butler and Danzig are acting as a part of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a growing coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to stopping the expansion of Tar Sands infrastructure throughout the Great Plains. Their actions follow the escalating number of work-stopping actions that have occurred in Oklahoma this past month. Both anti-extraction activists cite concern of the effect a spill will have in the Cross Timbers bio-region that they call home. Their action comes in the wake of the rupture of Exxon-Mobile’s Pegasus pipeline which spilled Tar Sands bitumen in neighboring Mayflower, Arkansas. In addition to the high rates of sickness that the surrounding community displayed, the spill in Arkansas has polluted Lake Conway and has had devastating effects on local wildlife. The permanent effect on people’s livelihoods and the health of affected ecosystems remains to be seen.
“This pipeline is essential for continued tar sands exploitation which poses an imminent threat to the health of indigenous communities near the point of extraction, fence-line communities around the toxic refineries, and ultimately the health of every living being along the route,” said Benjamin Butler, who was born at Tinker Air force Base in Oklahoma. “I believe in a more beautiful world, one where the profits of a corporation don’t outweigh the health of the people and the planet.”
“These companies come through with false promises and leave sickness and devastation in their wake,” said Eamon Danzig of Denton, TX. “People in Mayflower experienced fainting, nausea, and nosebleeds from the benzene gas which separates from the diluted bitumen in a spill and hovers above the ground. Leaks, ruptures, and other accidents on tar sands pipelines are so commonplace and inevitable that I can’t let this pipeline be built through the Cross Timbers.”
The Tar Sands megaproject is the largest industrial project in the history of humankind, destroying an area of pristine boreal forest which, if fully realized, will leave behind a toxic wasteland the size of Florida. The Tar Sands megaproject continues to endanger the health and way of life of the First Nations communities that live nearby by poisoning the waterways which life in the area depends on. This pipeline promises to deliver toxic diluted bitumen to the noxious Valero Refinery at the front door of the fence-line community of Manchester in Houston.
Currently, there is staunch resistance to the expansion of Tar Sands infrastructure—Lakota and Dakota peoples in “South Dakota” have sworn to protect their land and people from the Keystone XL, lifelong Oklahomans and Texans are consistently halting construction of the inherently dangerous Keystone XL, and the Unis’tot’en Camp has entered the third year of their blockade of the Pacific Trails Pipeline.