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Good news: Keystone XL Pipeline Fails in Senate

On Tuesday the Senate defeated a bill that would have given the green light to the Keystone XL pipeline that oil companyTransCanada has lobbied to build to channel tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast of the US. 

All 45 Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the pipeline, and announced after the session that they will reintroduce the bill as their first actions in the new year, when Republicans will hold a majority.  In order for that vote to pass, proponents of the pipeline would have to get 67 votes in their favor, rather than just the 59 they got on Tuesday, which would give them the power to override a presidential veto.

Obama maintains a veto power on the pipeline approval because the pipeline would cross international borders, between the US and Canada, and has alluded to vetoing the pipeline if it does pass in early 2015.

This means that to shut down Keystone XL, the opposition must encourage President Obama to act on his veto ability.  Do so here.

The section of the pipeline that has yet to be built will cross through North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, traveling straight through the Sioux Nation and the Oglala-Sioux aquifer, which is one of the largest in the world and supplies drinking water to many surrounding states. Cyrill Scott, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, explained, “When a break in the pipelines happens, and its when, not if, it will poison your children and our children.”  In a statement issued last week, the tribe declared, “The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands. We are outraged at the lack of inter-governmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.”

In a later interview, Scott reiterated,  “We’re going to do everything within our powers to protect our homelands, our children, our grandchildren, and your children and your grandchildren.”  The interviewer at RT asked Scott if there was any amount of money that the tribe could be offered to allow for the pipeline to happen. Scott responded:  “Excuse my language, but hell no! Never. Our land is more important, our children, our way of life, our culture, is more important than monetary gain.”

First Nations and Native American tribes whose lands are and will be affected be by the pipeline celebrated the successful halt of the bill thus far.

Inside the Senate, when the bill was announced as having failed to pass, a member of the Crow Creek Tribe of northwest Sioux Falls, S.D., broke into a traditional Lakota song to honor the lawmakers that voted against the pipeline.  In an interview with USA Today, 28 year-old Gray Cloud explained,

"I wasn't chanting. It wasn't an outburst. It was a song of honor, honoring the senators, the hard work and courage for standing up and saying no to Big Oil. I did it for a good cause."  He shared that the song goes as follows:

Tunkasila wamayanka yo, le miye ca tehiya nawazin yelo.
unci maka nawacincina wowahwala wa yuha waun welo

Translated into English, the song means,  "Grandfather look at me, I am standing here struggling, I am defending grandmother Earth and I am chasing peace."

Gray Cloud decided to sing earlier that day, and reviewed the idea with tribal elders, who approved. After talking to a native song keeper, they decided on this song, which according to USA Today's report, was composed during the 1980s while elders were fighting in opposition to coal mining on their lands.   

After the song he was carried outside by police, thrown against a wall and arrested, all while continuing to sing his song. He has a court date on December 10th.   "We will sing the loudest when President Obama rejects the pipeline!" Grey Cloud said.

As for Cryill Scott, his next step is to gather the Rosebud Nation on the reservation to start planning. “They are putting a great strain on our elders and our children and on our tribes financially by continuing to push this through.  All these legal maneuvers cost money and its hurting us.”

Make sure to tell Obama to use his veto power when the time comes. Send a message to the White House here.