But there was already an existing Keystone pipeline, running from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, Oklahoma. It has leaked more than a dozen times since becoming operational in 2010, and on Dec. 7 the biggest leak to date occurred, spilling 588,000 gallons – almost enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool – onto the Kansas soil.
We fought the Line 3 pipeline in more recent years – another Black Snake, this one running from the Alberta tar sands to Wisconsin, across the entire state of Minnesota and its indigenous wild rice lakes. It became operational in October 2021, just five months after our affinity group, the Mayflies, blocked two entrances to the Enbridge man camp for pipeline workers for part of one day. The pipeline immediately started spilling drilling fluids into the pristine waters of northern Minnesota. And I just learned while researching this post that the original Line 3 leaked 1.7 million gallons of crude oil on March 3, 1991. There have also been leaks along the infamous Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), which has been operating illegally for the past two years in violation of a court order requiring the company to do a full Environmental Impact Statement. Which, of course, should have been done BEFORE construction.
Those of us fighting fossil pipelines always say it’s a matter of when, not if, a pipeline will leak, or in the case of gas, maybe explode.
On the brighter side, I want to mention some of the successes we’ve had in the past several years, and the amazing people who made success possible.
In 2016, six members of Beyond Extreme Energy from as far away as North Carolina arrived in cold, snowy western Massachusetts for the Martin Luther King Day weekend walk against the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan. Boy was it cold! With the wind chill on the third day the temperature was 6 degrees. But our hearts were warmed by the amazing people we met, including several “raging Grannies” who helped power the walk by singing old tunes with fresh lyrics. We were fed and housed along the walk, and you can imagine how delicious a hot meal was when we came in from the cold. We made a few good friends on that walk that we’ve continued to work with. Oh, and the pipeline was cancelled!
Some of us did another walk in March 2017 across eastern North Carolina to oppose the 600-mile Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipeline (ACP) that was planned to cross West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, possibly extending to an LNG (liquefied “natural” gas) export terminal in South Carolina. While not as cold as Massachusetts, it was still chilly for camping, so we camped inside many of the days. It was organized by APPPL, the NC Alliance to Protect the People and the Places We Live, and included my friends from western NC as well as powerful African American and indigenous leaders from the poorer eastern part of the state, which is where the pipeline was scheduled to be built, after the whiter, wealthier residents of the central part of the state objected to the original path through their communities. Nothing new there.
There was also very effective organizing against the ACP by a coalition in WV and VA called ABRA, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. All that organizing paid off when the company trying to build the pipeline pulled the plug in July 2020.
And we have stopped Sen. Joe Manchin's dirty deal three times in Congress, and we will stop the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP)!
So we end the year with some wins and some losses (coal use reached an all-time high this year), keeping in mind and heart the long view – that we do as much as we can while we’re here to preserve the quality of life on earth for all. And if we fail on any given day to do so, we try not to waste energy beating ourselves up about it.