Two Texas-born Tar Sands Blockaders have locked themselves to a critical piece of machinery for Keystone XL construction in order to protect a tree village occupied by eight people in the tar sands pipeline’s path of devastation outside Winnsboro,Texas. The two landowner advocates and climate justice organizers are risking arrest to delay deforesting work along the Keystone XL pipeline’s path, which threatens to destroy a magnificent tree village on property that TransCanada now claims ownership of through court action. The machinery involved, a backhoe, was being used to build a bridge across a gully in the massive path of destruction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. WIthout the bridge construction has effectively been halted for the day.
TransCanada’s heavy machinery has clear-cut its way within just over 300 yards of the 80-foot tall tree house village occupied by landowner advocates in the pathway of Keystone XL just outside Winnsboro, Texas. The eight people in trees have held strong despite the advancing roar of TransCanada’s clear cutting machinery and are determined to hold their blockade as long as needed.
This action is to protect the eight people sitting in trees, as their blockade enters its second day – the longest halt to construction since Tar Sands Blockade, which organized the tree sit, began in August.
Lake Dallas, Texas-born blockader Shannon Bebe, 26, has united with Houston-native and small business owner, Benjamin Franklin, 34, to support rural and neighboring communities who feel abused by TransCanada’s extremely aggressive land grabs and threatened by their toxic pipeline’s diluted bitumen slurry.
Franklin, whose family traces its lineage to pre-independence Texas, relates, “As someone who has a religious dedication to nonviolence, I have a duty to assist nonviolent tactics. This is a path to change that works. I had a childhood spent in the piney woods of Texas, and they contain a beauty that haunts me, still. Driving up here and then walking amongst the trees and their sitters reminded me of the beauty I experienced in childhood. That in and of itself is reason to be here defending it.”
He continues, “The theft and destruction of people’s homes, the contamination that’s likely to occur once the pipeline is completed, and the release of the carbon bomb that is the Athabascan tar sands formation make the need for action now unignorable.”
Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. We have already successfully shut down Keystone XL construction for about two-and-a-half days in Livingston, Saltillo, and Winnsboro.
“The risk of inaction is far greater than the risk of taking action – even risky action like this,” suggests Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “We are committed to undertaking a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to stop construction of Keystone XL, and Tar Sands Blockade will continue to protect the Winnsboro tree village. It is a symbol of all the homes and families crudely threatened by this tar sands pipeline. Sometimes, one must simply stand one’s ground in the face of eminent threats like those posed by this dangerous pipeline in order protect the health and safety of their families, loved ones, and that of their neighbors.”