In April 2016, just five months after President Barack Obamarejected the proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline, the existing Keystone pipeline leaked 17,000 gallons of oil onto private land in southeastern South Dakota. For Art Tanderup, a Nebraska farmer who spent the last five years crusading to keep TransCanada from building the conduit over his modest 160 acres, the spill confirmed his worst fears.
He was even more distraught when President Donald Trump reversed course and announced he would approve Keystone XL pipeline days after taking office in January. Now, Tanderup’s concerns seem even more warranted, after the existing Keystone pipeline spilled again on Thursday, this time leaking 210,000 gallons ― 12 times more toxic tar sands oil than before ― on a grassy field in the remote northeastern corner of the Mount Rushmore State. It is the largest spill in Keystone’s history.
“We’re religious people,” Tanderup, 65, told HuffPost by phone on Friday. “It makes you think maybe the creator is sending us a strong message.”
Keystone XL was the subject of seven-year fight between environmentalists and the Obama administration before Trump reversed course. Native activists in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation ― roughly 200 miles from the latest spill site in Amherst, South Dakota ― waged a monthslong battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump pushed ahead earlier this year. Environmentalists, tribes, concerned ranchers and scientists have been saying for years that the potential for catastrophic spills ― and the impacts they would have on land and water ― far outweigh the perceived benefits of new pipelines.
Pipelines reduce the cost of shipping crude by train ― an expense an industry struggling with low oil prices has been eager to eliminate. Trump vowed to jumpstart the United States economy by promoting fossil fuels, slashing environmental regulations and making it easier for drilling and pipeline projects to begin….