Despite spilling more than 383,000 gallons of tar sands oil last month in North Dakota, TC Energy, the pipeline contractor behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline, is determined to resume operations. Its decision has alarmed local Indian residents, who say the spill affected a nearby wetland while possibly reaching any groundwater below.
“This is what pipelines do: they spill,” said Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project and public relations director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner, in an emailed press statement last week. “This latest Keystone leak demonstrates why we stood against Dakota Access in the first place, why we’re doing so again now, and why we’re prepared to fight Keystone XL every step of the way.”
Julian Bear Runner notes that the cleanup is still going on at the North Dakota spill site. TC Energy said that it’s recovered about 285,600 gallons of oil already, but it is still investigating what caused the incident. The spill has not blunted company plans to complete Keystone XL's construction in 2020. The pipeline would run 1,184 miles from Canada to the U.S., shipping up to 830,000 gallons of tar sands oil every day. The Sioux tribe says that oil poses a serious threat to any wildlife that comes into contact with it, as well as to delicate water systems in the pipeline’s planned path.
Native Americans and their advocates are calling for the end of new pipelines and their expansions. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for president, called out the dangers of such infrastructure on Twitter, noting he would shut down the Keystone Pipeline if he were president. Conventional wisdom suggests that all democratic candidates would not allow Keystone XL to proceed if any one were to become America's next president.