For Immediate Release
Two Lifelong Oklahomans Halt Construction of Keystone XL Work Site
BRYAN COUNTY, Okla. - Two lifelong Oklahomans have effectively halted construction on an active work site for TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Bennington, Oklahoma.
Eric Whelan, 26, who grew up in McLoud, Okla., has ascended 40 feet into the air in an aerial blockade that began at dawn this morning.
Gwen Ingram of Luther, Okla., 56, has locked herself to heavy machinery and shut down the construction site.
Ingram and Whelan have blockaded the work site for TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to prevent it from poisoning Oklahoma's water.
Today’s event marks the fourth act of civil disobedience by Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and comes in the wake of the disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.
For the last three weeks, over 300,000 gallons of tar sands diluted bitumen have spilled into a residential neighborhood and local waterways.
"Keystone XL sounded like a bad idea from the beginning," explained Whelan. "The Mayflower spill proves that we shouldn't be trusting these multi-national corporations, like Exxon or TransCanada, because every spill further exposes their criminal incompetence. Now TransCanada wants to build a toxic pipeline through the center of the country.
“I’m taking action to prevent a tragedy like that from happening in Oklahoma."
The corrosive nature of tar sands makes pipelines more prone to leaks than transporting crude oil, as evidenced by the Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline burst in Mayflower, Ark.
When spills inevitably do occur, the heavier diluted bitumen sinks in water and into the water table. Keystone XL's proposed route cuts through the heartland of North America, crossing the Arbuckle Simpson and Edwards Trinity Aquifer in Oklahoma.
"The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would carry the dirtiest fuel on the planet from Canada to America's Gulf Coast's refineries and ports, and then overseas for export," said Gwen Ingram before locking herself to TransCanada’s heavy machinery.
"I simply won’t allow this pipeline to cross our precious rivers; the North and South Canadian, The Red River, The Cimmaron and threaten our drinking water."
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Great Plains Tar Sands Resistances (GPTSR) is a direct action coalition of organizations and individuals across Oklahoma and the Great Plains who oppose all forms of tar sands exploitation. GPTSR engages in nonviolent civil disobedience in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline's construction and expresses explicit support for indigenous peoples' defense of ancestral lands.