There were three major pipeline victories this week, victories for people who want to protect land, water and their children’s future. First, the corporations promoting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline decided to pull the plug on their attempt to force it down the throats of people who opposed it. Next, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline needed to shut down until there is a thorough environmental review. Then the US Supreme Court allowed the ruling of a federal district judge requiring individual permits for all stream crossings on the route of the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline to stand. Since it would take months to get all the individual stream permits, this means KXL won’t be built this year and dramatically increases the likelihood it won’t be built at all.
I have been heavily involved in the effort stop the KXL pipeline over the last 10 years, spending thousands of hours in a variety of roles; policy advocate, organizer, activist and attorney. Although there is a tendency to give certain leaders credit for successes like these, I want to give credit to all the unsung people who stood up against KXL; thousands of people who wrote letters, marched, sang, testified; people who endured blizzards and heat waves, people who stood in line for hours to speak; people who used their minds and spirits to change the course of history.
Although ultimate victory is not yet certain, the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step in that direction. I want to emphasize the magnitude of the opposition that we faced, which included the President of the United States, the entire Republican party, the fossil fuel lobby with its trillions of dollars in assets, and politicians on every level who are susceptible to the power of money. On our side we had a very diverse coalition that included Native Americans, farmers and ranchers, grandmothers baking pies, students and people everywhere who want to care for the earth that sustains us. Many spiritual traditions joined their voices in opposition to the pipeline; Indigenous spiritual leaders, Muslims, Jews, Catholic priests and Protestant pastors all providing messages from their respective traditions that this fossil fuel project violates the spirit and teachings that they hold sacred.
The battle against KXL created bonds of caring and compassion that grew out of shared experiences and values. Love for something greater than ourselves, love for the land and water that nourishes us, love for one another, love for our children and generations to come, all came together in opposition to the forces of greed and short-term gain, truly a triumph of the spirit.
Policy and Outreach Director
Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light