Grassroots Resistance to Keystone XL Start Up

Update: Jan. 23rd – Watch this excellent TV coverage on KTRE | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

For Immediate Release:

Wednesday January 22nd, 2014

Contact:  Maya Lemon, NacSTOP, 936-645-5400, lemon.maya[at]

For the past three years East Texans have built a grassroots movement opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline South. NacSTOP (Nacogdoches County Stop Tar Sands Oil Permanently) has committed hundreds of volunteer hours advocating for community safety, landowner rights, and the protection of natural resources. On Wednesday January 22nd 2014, the group will peacefully demonstrate their opposition to the official startup of the pipeline with an Autonomous Light Brigade.

Tar sands related emergencies are a major concern in frontline communities along the pipeline. The first Keystone pipeline leaked twelve times in its first year of operation. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, a tar sands pipeline spilled three years ago and to date the cleanup is ongoing. Tar sands, much denser than conventional oil, sinks in water, contaminating the source and making cleanup costly and difficult to accomplish. In the air, tar sands evaporates causing both acute and chronic chemical exposure upon respiration. “This pipeline is a big accident waiting to happen, ” says East Texas landowner Mike Hathorn. “A spill is going to happen on this pipeline somewhere.”

Local level emergency preparedness is also a concern. Within Nacogdoches County, first responders have not received training specific to a tar sands spill. In addition to training, it is essential that equipment and resources related to a tar sands spill are immediately accessible. Any delay in obtaining these resources would dramatically decrease first responder safety and effectiveness. Keystone XL South will carry one of the dirtiest fuels on earth and a tar sands spill would cause irreversible damage. “Mayflower, Arkansas, is an example of the unthinkable risk of tar sands in our community,” says Robin Rumph, Arkansas native and member of NacSTOP.  “All pipelines leak and a breach of Keystone XL South would take years to clean up, altering our community health forever.”

Landowner rights and issues of eminent domain associated with the construction of Keystone XL South have additionally not been resolved. Texas landowner Julia Trigg Crawford’s pending legal suit highlights this issue. “TransCanada’s use of eminent domain is an infringement of Texan rights from a foreign company,” says Crawford. “Keystone XL South will take oil that originates outside of Texas to ports that will carry that oil away from Texas.  TransCanada should not have been allowed to use common carrier status to build this pipeline.”

Texas activists and the public interest group, Public Citizen, documented hundreds of anomalies along the pipeline but despite these findings Keystone XL South will startup on the 22nd. Due to faulty welds, dents, and inadequate protection of the pipe many believe Keystone XL South cannot safely transport tar sands.

NacSTOP is committed to continue opposing  Keystone XL South and working for community safety. On Wednesday, they will use the Autonomous Light Brigade to signal their ongoing commitment to our community. “East Texas is a culturally and ecologically rich place.” Says Maya Lemon, of NacSTOP. “For those of us along the pipeline, the struggle is personal. We’re committed to working in East Texas for the long haul.  This is our place, our home, our people—we are advocating for the safety and protection of the things we love.”

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