Tribal Opponents to Keystone XL Focus on Water, Mancamps

Ken Santema reports on the Keystone XL protest held in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s visit to Watertown last week. He finds that the protesters, largely American Indians from Sisseton organized by Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, are less worried about climate change (the usual rallying cry of somewhat narrow-visioned national protest groups) and more worried about two immediate environmental and social impacts to Indians and the rest of us here in South Dakota:

  • Keystone XL may leak and contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River.
  • The mancamps housing pipeline builders will put Indian communities at risk of sexual violence and strain local law enforcement and infrastructure. (See the Bakken mancamps for empirical examples.)

Santema also finds some protesters expressing concern about Keystone XL running through sacred tribal lands. TransCanada routed its pipeline around Indian reservations to avoid having to deal with tribal governments, but Keystone XL would still cross numerous waterways supplying the reservations, as well as the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System. Tribal advocates contend the pipeline will also cross sacred sites off reservation. Those concerns have motivated South Dakota tribes to lead the fight against Keystone XL before the Public Utilities Commission.


3 Responses to Tribal Opponents to Keystone XL Focus on Water, Mancamps

  1. Paul Seamans

    I would conservatively estimate that over 50% of South Dakota’s population relies on the Missouri River for it’s drinking through various rural water systems. The big threat to the water are the carcinogenic chemicals contained in the dilbit (diluted bitumen), benzene being the worst. Maximum allowable limits for benzene is 5 parts per billion, for drinking water the goal is zero ppb. Benzene is rated as being one of the most carcinogenic chemicals. Benzene is water soluble and will separate from the bitumen and the benzene plume will move downstream.

  2. Paul Seamans

    An interesting story related to this post has recently come out of Iowa. A landowner along the Dakota Access pipeline has been offered sexual favors in order to induce him to sign an easement. He claims to have the offer from the land agent on tape. The tribal worries about mancamps are not unfounded.

  3. Native people bring the facts to the table regarding the mancamps along with water issues. Good to see the heavy lifting is being done by all in the coalition. There was a school teacher that was brutally raped and murdered from Montana by oil field drifters from the Bakken. The drug use along with plenty of money, makes life restless for these workers in a rural setting. Mr. Seamans is pretty much spot on about the water usage of 50% of all South Dakotans in areas that will have crossings of this black snake. When there is a leak, it will get into our drinking water as it always does.