DENVER – At the two-week mark of the vote by Senator Michael Bennett to approve the Keystone XL Pipeine, groups arrived at his doorstep for the second time in two weeks since his vote, to express their outrage. On March 22, 2013 Senator Bennett voted with 62 other senators for Amendment 494 introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) to the 2013 federal budget. The resolution in support of the pipeline passed with 37 voting against including the vote of Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. Though the vote for the Amendment was nonbinding, Sarah Kendall Hughes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Bennett, said to protesters a week ago that his vote was “purely symbolic”. But Micah Parking with 350.org, a global environmental group, said that, “Even so, [Bennett’s] vote sends a horrible message to Obama that the people approve of the pipeline”.
Parkin’s statement was supported by recent actions taken by those in opposition to the pipeline over the course of more than two years. Parkin pointed out that 50,000 marched against the pipeline in Washington D.C. in February on the same day that 1000 protested in Denver against pipeline construction. A week ago over 100 people protested at Bennett’s office to ask for an explanation for his vote. Participants at today’s event said that as of yet, they have not received an explanation.
Although the southern leg of the pipeline is already under construction ahead of the President’s approval, his signature would mean that Canadian oil company TransCanada would be cleared to transport bitumen, or tar sands oil, from Canada to the Gulf Coast for sale on the open market following the refinement process. This refinement process is said by locals who live near refineries in Texas to be poisoning the environment of especially low-income communities of color.
Those living at the source of tar sands extraction in Canada have reported unprecedented levels of illnesses among human populations but also maladies among fish and wildlife which until recently were a source of sustainment for the indigenous communities in the area. In a session at the National Conference for Media Reform taking place in downtown Denver this weekend, Sylvia McAdam, co-founder of the Idle No More Movement of Canada, told The Nation Report today that the water around Fort McMurray at the source of tar sands extraction is not only no longer fit to drink but that “indigenous people are no longer hunting in that area anymore”. She went on to say that locals can no longer use their local water even to bathe.
Activists outside of Bennett’s office said that they would step up their actions to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Refufia Gaintan/The Nation Report