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

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Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally at Lafayette Park next to the White House in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24, 2017. SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

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.

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."

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.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.