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Photo: Oliver Contreras/Zuma Wire
At the top of Biden's first-day executive orders is to cancel the long-decried project through Native land. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Zuma Wire

Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline in major win for Indigenous rights groups and environmentalists

The project was the subject of one of President Donald Trump’s first executive orders when he took office in 2016.

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As the nation anxiously awaits the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, it’s imperative that we acknowledge the large majority of Indigenous voters that made a considerable impact on the presidential election in several swing states. 

Biden owes a great deal of his success to Indigenous voters, and many Indigenous groups, like 350.org, are asking for recognition and tangible protection to be put in place. 

“We are in a pivotal moment of reckoning that requires us to ground in the history of the United States as a county built on stolen Indigenous land by stolen Black and African labor,” said Thanu Yakupitiyage, communications director of 350.org

Fortunately, Biden has answered the call. 

Among his long list of executive actions he has planned for his first day in office, rescinding the cross-border permit for TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline is at the top. 

This is no small action. It would negate one of President Donald Trump’s first actions in office, and demolish a project that has become a battle between climate activists and the oil industry. 

The Keystone pipeline, if built to completion, would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day, stretching about 1,2000 miles from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. 

It has long been opposed by Indigenous and environmental groups, concerned about the climate impacts and the potential for leaks that would pollute drinking water and harm wildlife. 

For Indigenous people such as Ruth H. Hopkins, the decision evokes strong emotions. 

Hopkins posted an article with the news on Twitter and wrote out her emotions. 

“I’m crying. We’ve been fighting this pipeline for nearly 10 years. I know the danger. The 1st Keystone Pipeline spilled half a million gallons next to my Rez,” she wrote. 

Environmentalists are also overjoyed with the decision. 

“President-elect Biden is showing courage and empathy to the farmers, ranchers and tribal nations who have dealt with an ongoing threat that disrupted their lives for over a decade,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska

The decision also brought praise from a former opponent on the presidential campaign trail in Senator Bernie Sanders.  

“The Keystone pipeline is & always has been a disaster. I’m delighted that Joe Biden will cancel the Keystone permit on his first day in office,” he wrote. 

The Biden administration putting a stop to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline feels like a breath of fresh air for the country, and it is a true victory in terms of climate change response and Indigenous rights.

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