The cross border battle in the tar sands achieved a victory today. The Hoeven Amendment to the Transportation Bill, which would have over-ridden the President’s recent denial of the Keystone XL pipeline and mandated its approval, failed to get enough votes to pass through the Senate. This amendment would have undercut processes to protect the public’s safety, health and economic well being by bypassing the need for proper environmental review of the project. The vote was 56-42 in favor of KXL, however under Senate rules it needs 60 votes to pass.
It’s clear that our voices, our concerns and hard work are no longer falling on deaf ears. US leaders are no longer following suit with it’s Canadian counterparts who appear to rubber stamp all projects without adequate review, assessment or consultation with First Nations. US leaders are willing to take a stand and support the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and the massive dirty energy projects associated with it that would ultimately impact the waterways, critical lands and the health and safety of it’s people through the US heartland. If only we could see the same protections being put in place here in Canada.
The reason this rejection is such a victory for the people of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is simple, without adequate delivery methods for tar sands oil producers will be choking on the oil they plan on or currently mine/produce. Without massive pipeline allowing for cheap transportation of oil major oil companies, like Shell, will be left holding hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil with no method to transportation. Current tar sands transportation lines cannot adequately handle the proposed expansion and increases development in tar sands production.
I want to stress the Keystone XL pipeline is not gone and rest assured new routes and new pipelines with be proposed. However, what has been shown is that our concerns are finally being heard and that we can make a difference.
Again, I would like to appalled all those that worked tirelessly to make this happen and repeat the words of Chief Allan Adam when we first heard the news of the rejection of the pipeline this January:
“The decision to reject this pipeline comes from the opposition of the many Indigenous communities and our allies. The Mother Earth Accord outlined the serious implications the pipeline would’ve had on the people, our rights and our lands. This is a major victory for Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. We hope the Canadian government recognizes Obama’s rejection as a sign to slow down the current pace of development in the tar sands. Rapid expansion in the tar sands has left developers struggling for inexpensive ways to ship, refine and sell their oil. Stopping these massive pipelines is key to stopping further destruction of our territory. We are still working to oppose Shell’s proposed tar sands expansion of open pit mining projects in our traditional territory in Northern Alberta. We hope that you all join the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation this year in opposing Shell’s projects and the development of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Together we can protect our lands, our futures and our treaty rights.”