By Anne Meador and John Zangas
More than 50 protestors against the Keystone XL pipeline posed in front of a replica pipeline on the lawn of Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) residence on Capitol Hill, calling for the lawmaker to drop a vote she initiated in the Senate to approve the controversial fossil fuel project.
Native Americans and landowners from Nebraska joined activists from 350.org at Landrieu’s house early on a rain-soaked Monday morning. They held fluorescent signs saying, “Vote No KXL!” and burnt sage in a Native American ceremony.
Art Tanderup, whose farm in Neligh, Nebraska is on the Keystone XL route, said a Nebraska coalition was “prepared to do what we have to” to keep the pipeline from being built. “We’re here to show [Landrieu] is stepping on a lot of people, stepping on the land, stepping on the water throughout this country,” Tanderup said. “And she doesn’t seem to care about what this pipeline will do and how much of a potential disaster it is at this time.”
Senator Landrieu has brought a bill before the Senate to do an end-run around President Obama and approve the Keystone XL through Congress. Landrieu is facing challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in a run-off election for her Senate seat on December 6. Their show of support for the Keystone XL pipeline is largely political theater, staged to prove their allegiance to Louisiana’s powerful fossil fuel lobby. Cassidy sponsored a similar bill in the House, which passed 252 to 161 on Friday.
The pipeline route crosses tribal land of the Rosebud Sioux. The tribe declared the House vote in favor of the Keystone XL “an act of war.”
“We’re a sovereign nation,” said Greg Grey Cloud from South Dakota, co-founder of Wica Agli. “If they pass the KXL pipeline, it’s going through our sovereign nation. We have rights. The treaties are our law, and they’re violating our treaties. They didn’t consult properly with the tribes.”
Landrieu’s bill is likely to come up for a vote on Tuesday. Landrieu nearly has the 60 votes she needs to pass the measure. President Obama, however, has signaled that he would veto it.
But if the president later approves Keystone XL himself, it will be met with resistance. Grey Cloud said that the Lakota tribe would close off its reservation and bar any KXL equipment.