Protecting water: Fighting Keystone XL

Northern Plains is committed to protecting Montana’s water now, and for future generations.

The Keystone XL pipeline, approved on March 24th, poses a real threat to two of Montana’s most iconic and critical waterways—the Missouri and the Yellowstone Rivers—along with dozens of smaller rivers and streams that would be crossed along its path.

When our water is threatened, so are our communities and our ways of life.

Take action: Sign our petition here.

Filing Suit

The Trump Administration was wrong to approve Keystone XL’s Presidential Permit. That’s why we’re fighting back.

Along with a coalition of other organizations, we are challenging the permit approval based on the outdated and incomplete information used to decide the project’s threat to the health of water, land, and communities the pipeline crosses. The Trump Administration justified its approval of Keystone XL based on a January 2014 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Since then, we’ve learned through experience, including two pipeline spills in the Yellowstone River, that the danger of tar sands oil spills into our water are far greater than the EIS assumes. We’ve also seen the escalating risk to our safety from climate change, which the EIS significantly underestimated.

The need for Keystone XL, questionable to begin with, has disappeared. Oil prices have plummeted. Oil transportation options have expanded. We have domestic clean energy alternatives available today.

We don’t need this pipeline.

Learn More: 

Meet the Water Warriors:

Dena Hoff, Yellowstone River

Dena lives on the Yellowstone River, just downstream of the Keystone XL crossing. Dena and her husband run an irrigated farm, raising livestock, vegetables, grains, and beans. Without clean water from the Yellowstone River, the farm couldn’t operate.

Dena’s already been through a pipeline spill. In January 2015, the Bridger Pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone. The spill happened right below Dena’s sheep pasture.

In January 2015 the Yellowstone River was covered in ice, so emergency services couldn’t get to the spilled oil to recover it. Oil ended up in the water supply of Glendive, the town just downstream from Dena’s farm. When Glendive residents turned on the tap, it smelled of diesel fuel. Benzene was found in the water. Glendive had no water for days.

Most of the oil from that spill was never recovered. No one knew how to recover oil with ice covering the river.

For Dena, the threat posed by Keystone XL is personal: “I want my children and my grandchildren and their children to be coming to this farm, so I want it to be here.”

Bill Whitehead, Missouri River

Bill lives on the Fort Peck Reservation which runs along the Missouri River, just downstream of the Fort Peck Dam. Since 1992, Bill has been working to bring clean water to the Reservation, as well as the surrounding communities and ranches. Groundwater in the area is seriously contaminated, with most private systems failing to meet safe drinking water standards.

Bill serves as a Water Board Commissioner for the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System (ASRWSS). The ASRWSS built the Wambdi Wahachanka “Eagle Shield” Water Treatment Plant and water system. The treatment plant brings clean water to tens of thousands of people in Northeastern Montana and covers an impressive geographic area.

But Keystone XL, crossing the Missouri River just 77 miles upstream of the system’s water intake, puts the region’s water in new jeopardy. Other river spill that taught us the hard way that pipeline spills at river crossings have a much further reach than 77 miles.

“We all should be concerned as members of Assiniboine and Sioux tribes – the water, air, and land is a part of our identity,” said Whitehead. “If there was a leak in the pipeline it could ruin our water treatment plant and therefore 30,000 people’s water.”

“It’s hard to see any benefit to the Assiniboine and Sioux people. We are concerned about the effect it’s going to have on our future generations – that’s what we’re concerned about: our future. This is our home.”

The Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System was not considered in the recently granted Keystone XL’s permit.

See our March 24 press release here.

220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154