By Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health and Environment Editor
Concerns about drinking water pollution from TransCanada Corp.’s planned Keystone XL Pipeline prompted Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele to call a meeting with federal and corporate representatives in Rapid City, S.D., on Sept. 27.
Canada’s indigenous First Nations have blocked the fossil fuel company’s previous plan to pump toxic crude-oil slurry from the tar-sands of Alberta Province to Pacific Coast shipping ports. Now TransCanada Corp. has turned to U.S. President Barack Obama for permission to build the controversial pipeline across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, in hopes of getting the product to the Gulf of Mexico via Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Yellow Bird Steele’s call came on the heels of a Rosebud Sioux Tribe Emergency Summit, Sept. 15-16, which resulted in a sign-on letter urging Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to reject the request for a Presidential permit for the pipeline.
“TransCanada is trying to build the Keystone XL Pipeline through the Sioux Nation’s national 1851 and 1868 treaty territories and around existing Sioux Indian reservations in South Dakota – to avoid dealing with the Sioux tribes,” Yellow Bird Steele said in a memorandum to meeting participants.
However, he noted, the route crosses the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System core pipeline easement in two places.
“Under the Mni Wiconi Act, the concurrence of the Oglala Sioux Tribe is needed before any federal agencies can approve an overlapping easement for the OSRWSS,” he stated.