Reject and Protect: Cowboys, Indians, and Ranchers unite against Keystone XL

by Hannah Strange

April 17, 2014

Next week, an alliance of farmers, ranchers, and tribal communities will be coming to Washington DC. Bringing these groups together is one of the most controversial and dangerous projects in North America: the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The group calls itself the Cowboy Indian Alliance, and itll be riding into DC on horseback. During the week of April 22-27th, it will camp on the National Mall, calling on Obama to reject the pipeline, in favor of protecting the homes, lands, and ways of life of its members.

Reject and Protect Image 2

The action by the Cowboy Indian Alliance is called Reject and Protect, and the mission is to bring widespread attention to the real stakes of approving Keystone XL. The alliance wants to insist to President Obama that pumping 830,000 barrels per day of the worlds dirtiest oil across the American heartland, only to be refined and exported at our coasts, is a plan better left unrealized.

Last summer President Obama said he would reject the pipeline if he decided that it would have a significant impact on the climate. Since then many scientists, economists, advocates, and experts from all over the map have produced evidence that it would indeed be devastating be just that.

A University of California Berkeley economist estimates that stopping the pipeline would keep one billion barrels of tar sands oil under ground. Another study found that approving the pipeline would have the equivalent climate impact of 51 coal plants.

Oil seeps into a marshy waterway near Interstate 40 in Arkansas after Exxon's Pegasus pipeline burst in March, 2013,

Oil seeps into a marshy waterway near Interstate 40 in Arkansas after Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline burst in March, 2013,

Then theres the risk to water and land along the route. Keystone XL would run through some of the most sensitive water tables in North America. And it is expected to leak 91 times over its lifetime, posing a direct threat to the farmers, ranchers, and tribes who depend on that water.

The Alliance will arrive in Washington DC on Tuesday, April 22nd. It is going to show President Obama and the rest of the country the real faces of the real people who would be directly impacted by a pipeline.

Sheild the People 9 Matt Sloan for Bold Nebraska

Farmers, ranchers, and tribal leaders will be holding ceremonies and demonstrations throughout the week to emphasize the real risks of the pipeline. The Alliance has invited everyone to join in for a big event on Saturday the 26th to make a strong closing argument against the pipeline together.

That statement will be coordinated with an action by thousands of people who will be converging on DC that weekend to stand against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Or should we say: stand for our people, for our water, for our climate, and for our lands.

The Cowboy Indian Alliance will be delivering a hand-painted tipi to President Obama. It will be a symbol of hope that he will come through on his promises. But if he doesnt, the tipi will be a symbol of the bond between the farmers, ranchers, and tribal leaders who will continue to resist the pipeline.

Stay tuned for more coverage of Reject and Protect.

For now,read the call to action for Reject and Protect here.

By Hannah Strange

Hannah Strange is the director of Greenpeace USA's Movement Support Hub.

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