Since September, a core of determined anti-pipeline activists have sat in a "tree blockade" erected directly in the Keystone XL's planned path. They've spent three months living 80 ft above the ground, preventing TransCanada from building the next phase of its pipeline. But the Canadian oil company just acknowledged that it has almost completed the process of routing the pipeline around the blockade, and construction is almost complete.
TransCanada, the pipeline's builder, acquired an easement in October to build the pipeline slightly west of the tree blockade and the original route. Construction is now nearly finished on the property, and the protesters will soon call it quits.The protest in the tree blockade has been largely peaceful, though other actions intended to disrupt the advance of the Keystone XL have led to authorities targeting activists with pepper spray and tasers.
"It's a sad time at the tree blockade," said Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade, the activist group behind the campaign. Seifert said it's probably days before the tree village decamps, though no official decision has been made. "We'll take it day by day."
And, of course, the press has barely paid attention. I've yet to see nationwide mainstream news coverage of this long-standing and, frankly, dramatic protest. If just three Tea Partiers were to pull on their tri-corner hats, march to Washington, and, I don't know, erect a 'guard rail against the fiscal cliff' whilst screaming about Obama, that'd be news.
Yet this spirited bout of civil disobedience, with 50 arrests, police brutality, and bipartisan participation–conservative land rights advocates joined the fray to protest TransCanada's invoking eminent domain–hasn't even registered as a blip on the mainstream news cycle. And coverage is imperative in attracting donations and participation–no major green group has come forward to support the blockade.
Protesters plan to continue to fight the pipeline, but if it was an uphill battle before, it's a vertiginous cliff face now. It's reportedly one-quarter finished already.