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Indigenous and Green Groups Fighting Against Pipeline Urge 2020 Democrats to Take 'NoKXL Pledge'

"You either stand with family farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, and environmentalists—or you stand with fossil fuel corporations."

nokxl protest

Around 2,500 climate justice activists marched to the front of the White House to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline on March 2, 2014. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr/cc)

Indigenous, environmental, and landowner groups fighting to block the Keystone XL pipeline sent a letter Tuesday to the two dozen 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidates, urging them to take the "NoKXL pledge" and vow—if elected—to revoke the Trump administration's permit for the tar sands oil project.

"There is no middle ground when it comes to protecting the land, water, and climate," Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb said in a statement. "You either stand with family farmers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, and environmentalists—or you stand with fossil fuel corporations who are abusing eminent domain, and trampling on the treaty rights of Tribal Nations."

"Tribal Nations and communities are battling for the survival of our ecosystems and ways of life, and we need a president who will stand with us against Big Oil and the fossil fuel regime," said Dallas Goldtooth, a Keep It in the Ground campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. "Signing the NOKXL pledge is a solid step in the right direction."

The three-point NoKXL pledge, featured on Bold Nebraska's website, states:

  • If elected, I pledge to take executive action on Day One to stop any construction on the Keystone XL pipeline—no matter what—and revoke the existing presidential permits issued unilaterally by President Trump for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, sending both projects back to relevant federal agencies to undergo legitimate environmental review and Tribal consultations.
  • I pledge to direct all federal agencies (State Dept., FERC, Army Corps) to submit these two projects, as well as all new pipeline and energy infrastructure projects to a true climate test, and reject permits for any project that would exacerbate our climate crisis.
  • I pledge to protect the property rights of farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse, and to honor the treaties the U.S. government has signed with sovereign Tribal Nations.

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Natalie Mebane, associate director of U.S. Policy at 350 Action, called the pledge "a critical step in moving towards stopping all new fossil fuel projects and protecting communities already experiencing the devastation of fossil fuel disasters."

"To build systems that work for all of us, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, prioritize Indigenous rights, workers, and frontline communities, and hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable for their destruction," Mebane added. "Together we've stopped the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade. It's time all presidential candidates join us and commit to stopping KXL once and for all."

"Our next president needs to listen to the science that says we can't build new fossil fuel projects and fight climate change at the same time, not the polluters who say we don't have a choice."
—Charlie Jiang, Greenpeace USA

If constructed, the long-delayed pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily more than 1,000 miles from the Alberta tar sands, across Montana and South Dakota, to Nebraska. In a move that critics decried as a "ridiculous attempt" to skirt the law to benefit a fossil fuel company, President Donald Trump issued an "unprecedented and unilateral" executive memorandum in March, granting TransCanada—now known as TC Energy—a permit for the project.

"Our next president needs to listen to the science that says we can't build new fossil fuel projects and fight climate change at the same time, not the polluters who say we don't have a choice," Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang said Tuesday. "Reversing Trump's misguided Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline authorizations on day one sends a clear message to the fossil fuel executives that their days of power over the White House are over."

Other groups co-sponsoring the pledge are the Bold Alliance, Nebraska Easement Action Team, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Sunrise Movement, CREDO, Oil Change U.S., Friends of the Earth Action, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Climate Hawks Vote, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Progressive Democrats of America, NYC Grassroots Alliance, Earth Action, Bucks Environmental Network, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Anthropocene Alliance, New York Climate Action Group, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, and Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline.

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