One major current Plains Justice project is supporting landowners and residents along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico, the next stage after the recently constructed Keystone pipeline that crossed the eastern Dakotas going toward refinery capacity in Illinois.
The pipeline would cross over 1500 miles of the US from northern Montana, through western South Dakota, Nebraska’s Sandhills, across the Ogallala Aquifer (nearly in it at some points), Kansas, Oklahoma, and finally Texas.
A lot of opposition has sprung up along the route by people who:
- object to having an easement forced on them by eminent domain;
- are concerned about pipeline safety problems popping up everywhere;
- worry about the priceless Ogallala aquifer in case of an accident;
- are following the devastating environmental and public health impacts of the sprawling northern Alberta tar sands extraction industry;
- have heartburn about importing a fuel with three times the carbon footprint of traditional crude oil; or
- all of the above.
A lot of surprising public figures are getting involved in the public debate, and on sides you might not expect. It’s not every day a leading Democrat (Hillary Clinton) defends the take-no-prisoners fossil fuel industry while a leading Republican (Nebraska Senator and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns) defends natural resources. Plains Justice is producing a series of expert reports on tar sands pipelines issues, and providing pro bono legal representation to affected South Dakotans and Montanans. Catch all the fun on our Great Plains Tar Sands Pipelines blog.