American and Canadian First Nations plan civil disobedience to stop Keystone XL pipeline

Washington, D.C.: The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is a national environmental justice and indigenous rights organization taking part in the largest act of civil disobedience in decades taking place at the White House in Washington, D.C. from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3, 2011.

The purpose of these actions is to send a direct message to President Barack Obama to deny approval of the 1,702-mile Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would be transporting pollution from the tar sands (also known as oilsands) of Canada to the United States by carrying 900,000 barrels per day of thick, corrosive, toxic, synthetic crude oil for refining in Texas and the Gulf States.

If approved, the Keystone XL would lock the U.S. into a dependency of energy intensive, hard-to-extract dirty oil and create a massive expansion of the world's dirtiest and most environmentally destructive form of oil development currently taking place in northern Alberta, Canada. These operations are already producing 1.5m barrels per day and having horrendous environmental justice and human rights impacts on the way of life and health of the local Native communities of Cree, Dene and Métis.

The proposed pipeline threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America's agricultural heartland and grasslands with increased emissions in already-polluted communities of the Gulf Coast. The Keystone XL would cross Indian Country; States of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas encompassing Indian-U.S. treaty territories crossing water aquifers and rivers, grasslands, cultural sites and ecological sensitive areas. Leaks and spills are common occurrences from such pipelines that could result in disproportionate impact to Native Nations and thousands of tribal members. A spill from the Keystone XL poses an even greater threat, given that the pipeline would run directly through the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies one-third of American groundwater used for irrigation, and drinking water to two million U.S. citizens.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is bringing tribal governmental and grassroots leaders from U.S. and Canada, directly impacted by the proposed pipeline and the tar sands oil operations, to say "NO KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE" to President Obama. This Indigenous Day of Action on September 2, 2011, at the gates of the White House will express the solidarity of Native Nations, standing with concerned citizens, workers, farmers, ranchers, unions, youth and a coalition of environmental groups from across the continent, in peaceful protest to protect Mother Earth and demand Obama respect the treaty rights and survival of Native Nations of the U.S. and Canada.

"Nature is speaking, but Obama is not listening. The Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,700 mile fuse of the world's largest carbon bomb. The Canadian tar sands, the proposed Keystone XL and all the other current and proposed pipelines are weapons of mass destruction leading the path to triggering the final overheating of Mother Earth", says Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

"President Obama made promises to Native Nations and here is an opportunity for him to honor those promises and be a man of conscious by standing up to corporate power and say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline."

A barrel of tar sands oil emits up to three times as much climate-disrupting gas as conventional oil. Building Keystone XL would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of adding roughly 6.5 million passenger vehicles to the road, or constructing 12 new coal-fired power plants.

"IEN is putting out a national call for ACTION and Solidarity on Sept. 2nd. Even if your homes won't be crossed by this pipeline, we are raising the consciousness of America to reevaluate its relationship to Mother Earth that would be ruined by the intensity of environmental devastation and of greenhouse gases created by the enormous tar sands oil infrastructure crossing North America. It's like a giant spider web crossing our Turtle Island," added Goldtooth.

National Native organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest Native organization representing Native Nations, are calling for a moratorium and better management practices on expanded tar sands development and opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. NCAI requests the U.S. government to take aggressive measures to work towards sustainable energy solutions that include clean alternative energy and improving energy efficiency.

The IEN delegation will arrive in D.C. on Aug. 30th and be participating in the Aug. 31st Canadian Day of Action and staying until the Indigenous Day of Action on September 2nd.

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