More than a year after TransCanada crews started felling trees and digging trenches in East Texas, the southern segment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline—known as the Gulf Coast Project—will start delivering oil to Texas refineries today. The full Keystone XL line, which requires the administration’s approval because it crosses an international border, has met sustained opposition since it was first proposed in 2008. But when President Obama rejected the full project and fast-tracked its Oklahoma-to-Texas segment, conservative landowners formed an unlikely alliance with environmental activists and started a battle that continues today.
In Texas, pipeline opponents didn’t stop at holding signs and marching in major cities. Elderly landowners joined young protesters and locked themselves to TransCanada’s construction equipment or stood in front of machinery in rural East Texas where the pipeline was being built. In a three-month standoff with TransCanada, members of the Tar Sands Blockade built a “tree village” directly on the path of the pipeline route and lived on platforms 80 feet in the air. They documented their actions at every step, bringing national attention to the resistance against the pipeline in East Texas.