Native peoples and allies vow to stop pipeline construction in Oklahoma

Recording of a press conference organized by the grassroots Stop Plains All American Pipeline to announce plans for actions to stop further construction of the Diamond Pipeline by the Plains All American Company.

Recorded by Serena Blaiz of Pointing Left Media for the Oklahoma Citizen Public Affairs Network.

Press conference by a grassroots activist group, Stop Plains All American Pipeline, held at the OKahoma State Capitol on Jan 30, 2017.

The Plains All American company is building a new pipeline, the Diamond Pipeline that will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to West Memphis, Tenessee, crossing several sensitive waterbodies in the affected states. Diamond Pipeline is a partnership between Plains All American LP and Valero Energy.

To fight this new construction, a coalition of environmental groups announced Friday they are expanding pipeline fights across three states. Members from several indigenous and environmental groups say they’re coming together to force state regulators to protect their water, respect tribal sovereignty, and halt construction on the new Diamond Pipeline.

Press release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS CONFERENCE
FIGHT AGAINST DIAMOND PIPELINE SPANS THREE STATES

FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 – A coalition of environmental groups announced Friday they are expanding pipeline fights across three states. Members from several indigenous and environmental groups say they’re coming together to force state regulators to protect their water, respect tribal sovereignty, and halt construction on the new Diamond Pipeline.

The Diamond Pipeline will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to West Memphis, Tenessee, crossing several sensitive waterbodies in the affected states. Diamond Pipeline is a partnership between Plains All American LP and Valero Energy.

Several groups, including Bold Oklahoma, #NoPlainsPipeline, the American Indian Movement, and Oklahoma Sierra Club will hold a joint press conference at 2:00PM on Monday January 30th at the Oklahoma State Capitol announcing their campaign. They say they’re calling on residents throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas to help defend water as well as the many sacred Native American sites currently under threat by pipeline construction.

Coalition members say the Arkansas River and many other waterways are threatened by the Diamond project. They say Plains All American’s environmental record, combined with recent, high-intensity earthquakes marks a serious threat to drinking water in the region. The company’s history of major spills and pipeline ruptures has groups alarmed their water may be next.
The rise in powerful earthquakes centered near the nation’s largest oil hub in Cushing has locals and National security agencies concerned that a major environmental catastrophe is imminent.

Mekasi Horinek, a member of the Ponca Nation and director of Bold Oklahoma spent several months at Standing Rock working as a water protector, blocking construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Now back in Oklahoma, Horinek is bringing the fight home.

“The Salt Fork river near the White Eagle Ponca headquarters has experienced eight major fish kills in the past four years,” Horinek noted. With thousands oil & gas wells and disposal sites throughout the region, the fish kills are the likely result of toxic releases tied to fracking, injection wells, and other unchecked methods of wastewater disposal.

Horinek says state and federal regulatory agencies are failing to enforce laws designed to hold companies accountable for the violations. On the rash of recent fish kills, Horinek said, “The EPA and DEQ always tell us they can’t pinpoint where the contamination is coming from. We know that’s not true. It’s everywhere. They’re just not willing to prosecute responsible parties. There’s too many.”

The Diamond Pipeline is just the most recent project to gain approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Critics say the company failed to consult tribal governments and now refuses to disclose environmental impact assessments.

In late 2016, #NoPlainsPipeline along with members from Caddo Nation pointed out that Plains Pipeline failed to consult their tribal officers about the presence of religious and culturally significant sites along the Red River II pipeline route. Organizers are concerned the same violations are being repeated with the Diamond Pipeline.

#NoPlainsPipeline founder Ashley McCray said the company’s failure to consult the tribal governments is a violation of federal laws meant to protect ancestral sites. According to the beliefs and customs of many Native American tribes, disturbing the burial sites of ancestors is an act of extreme disrespect and is strictly forbidden.

“Thousands of indigenous peoples were forcibly removed and relocated to this so-called ‘Indian Territory’ and were killed & buried along the way,” McCray said. “More than that, there are 39 federally recognized tribes within the so-called borders of Oklahoma, each of whom continues the spiritual ways and traditions of their ancestors. We know for a fact that these ancestral lands and sacred sites could be desecrated.” she added. McCray says both the Diamond and Red River II projects have set a dangerous precedent; ignoring tribal sovereignty and condoning environmental racism.

Mike Casteel, director of American Indian Movement – Indian Territory provided documentation showing that the Diamond Pipeline will cross the historic Trail of Tears. He says hundreds of unmarked burial sites along the route could be disturbed by pipeline construction.
Casteel says there is undeniable proof that the Diamond Pipeline will be crossing the Trail of Tears. “We cannot sit idly by. Our ancestors died along this trail, and we have many unmarked graves there,” he said.

Casteel says AIM will stand with Indian people as well as the allies now occupying lands stolen through treaty violations. “We no longer accept poisoning-for-profit by any government or private corporation.”

Veronica Shaw Dicus, assistant director for AIM – Indian Territory added “we are fighting to protect life-sustaining water in hopes that our children and future generations won’t have to. Water must be protected at all costs. Without it, there is no life.”

“It is important the public fully understand the true nature of pipelines, and that they are far from a simple and safe means of transporting fossil fuels,” says Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Oklahoma Sierra Club. Since 2009, the annual number of significant oil and petroleum pipeline accidents has risen almost 60 percent. Bridgewater says the club’s official position is to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure in order to protect air and water quality, conserve natural resources, and mitigate climate disruption.

On January 30th at 2:00 PM, coalition members will give a press conference announcing the campaign to stop Plains All American’s Diamond Pipeline. Representative members from each organization will be available for individual interviews following the conference. The conference will be held on the 4th floor of the State Capitol in the Media Room.
#NoPlainsPipeline #StopDiamondPipeline #SDP #LoveWaterNotOil #WaterIsLife #Oklahoma

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