Photo: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

Oklahoma grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery Tuesday morning in protest of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline construction, halting work on a construction site of the tar sands harbinger for several hours.

Starting early in the morning, Zorn locked herself to the large ‘excavator’, latching a bike lock around her neck to the machine.

“Right now our neighbors in Arkansas are feeling the toxic affect of tar sands on their community. Will Oklahoma neighborhoods be next?” Zorn asked, referring to the thousands of barrels of tar sands oil which spilled out of an Arkansas pipeline last week.

 “I can no longer sit by idly while toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada and into our communities. It is time to rise up and defend our home. It is my hope that this one small action today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.”

“In the last two weeks alone there have been at least six different inland oil spills across the country,” said Eric Wheeler, an Oklahoma native and spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.

“It’s time to stop referring to pipeline spills as accidents, it’s now abundantly clear that leaks are just part of business as usual. Tar sands hurt everyone they touch, from the indigenous communities in Alberta whose water is being poisoned, to the Gulf Coast communities that are forced to breathe toxic refinery emissions. We’re not going to allow this toxic stuff in our beautiful state.”

Zorn was eventually removed from the equipment by local police and taken into custody.

Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother this year risking arrest to stop construction of the pipeline, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance said Tuesday. The action is part of a series of civil disobedience actions against the pipeline construction led by the group.

A decision to approve the cross border Keystone pipeline route, from tar sands oil fields in Canada to the Gulf Coast, is expected soon from the Obama administration.

While Obama waffles over the subject, and other oil friendly lawmakers attempt to force the pipeline in Congress, experts continue to urge that the 1,700-mile pipeline contains the inherent and inescapable capacity for devastating oil spills and a catastrophic increase in greenhouse gases.


Jacob Chamberlain is a staff writer with Common Dreams. This article was originally published at Common Dreams and is reprinted with permission. 

Photo: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance