[[Below is the transcript of part of a speech given by a member of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance collective at a “Draw The Line” event in Fayetteville, “Arkansas”. The intent of the speech was to comment on and criticize climate exceptionalism and how the mainstream Anti-KXL movement’s exclusive emphasis on how the [northern segment] of the KXL being “game over for the planet” is not only deluded but damaging to attempts to develop real networks of resistance and solidarity. For an excellent critique of how large environmental organizations perpetuate white supremacy/environmental racism in their organizing, check out our friends article, “Are Mainstream Environmental Groups Keeping Racism Alive?”]]
The communities that stand to suffer the brunt of increased tar sands extraction, transportation, and refining have been largely invisible in the mainstream opposition to the KXL north. At the point of extraction, First Nations folks, including the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan Nation, are under assault by the toxic extraction that takes place on and near their traditional land. Companies such as Exxon, Shell, BP, Devon Energy, Suncorp, act in collusion with the colonial government of Canada to continue assaults on their bodies, traditional way of life, and the landbase they’ve historically lived on and with.
It is incredibly important to recognize that the logic of settler-white supremacy designates nonwhite and indigenous bodies as valueless, as necessary casualties for extractive and industrial progress, is the same logic that governs the mainstream environmental movement’s omission or tokenization of their participation and experience.
In the majority latina and latino community of Manchester, the Valero refinery that stands to receive tar sands from the Gulf Coast segment of the KXL continues to poison residents with benzene, sulfur dioxide, 1,3 butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic compounds. Residents there are 50% more likely to develop leukemia than individuals just 10 miles to the south. Friends of mine that have gone down there to film and resist Valero alongside residents had nosebleeds, nausea, increased fatigue, and a noticeable shift in mental functioning and emotion. When these refineries begin to increase their refining of tar sands, the emissions from this dirty fuel will further put fenceline communities health in jeopardy.
Sadly, experiences like those of folks near the tar sands and petrochemical facilities are far from the anomalous when it comes to extraction and other industrial processes. It is easy to offer folks sympathies and prayers when they are under assault by the dominant system, to click “like” and “share,” but we become better allies in their struggle when we commit to taking the necessary steps to ensure that the tar sands project cannot expand, cannot get its product to the refinery, to points of export.
Currently, there are numerous pipelines proposed and in construction that stand to dramatically increase tar sands exploitation, transportation, and refining. Out of six pipelines slated to carry tar sands to a point of export, the Gulf Coast segment of the Keystone XL accounts for 17% of total volume. This is a call to join us in resisting other pipelines, to band together and support groups on the front lines resisting tar sands expansion. We’re incredibly inspired by ya’ll pledging to resist the Keystone XL North, and hope to support you in your resistance. We only hope that as we move forward we are able to include folks who have been fighting against toxic extraction, environmental racism, and living in sacrifice zones, as well as move forward together to build a movement capable of stopping the industry in its tracks. I’d like to end by paraphrasing a quote that is very close to me: Protest is when I say I disagree with something, Resistance is when I ensure that what I disagree with doesn’t happen. Thank you for fighting.
Also, check out some awesome sites you might not see on a 350 email-blast:
- Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s Resistance to Tar Sands on Treaty 8 Territories: http://acfnchallenge.wordpress.com/
- Beaver Lake Cree Nation Official Website, contesting Tar Sands in Treaty 6: http://www.beaverlakecreenation.ca/
- RAVEN’s support page for the BLCN fight http://www.raventrust.com/beaverlakecree.html
- Manchester Voices: http://www.beaverlakecreenation.ca/
- Unistoten Camp: http://unistotencamp.com/
- Owe Aku: http://www.oweakuinternational.org/
- Deep Roots United Front: http://deeprootsunitedfront.org/