Montanans Rally to Protect Water from Keystone XL Before Legal Arguments


Montanans Rally to Protect Water from Keystone XL Before Legal Arguments
Impacted Montanans Speak Against Threat to Drinking, Irrigation Water


Today, over 50 Montanans gathered, along with people from South Dakota and Nebraska, in front of the Great Falls Civic Center to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline’s threat to drinking and irrigation water.

People came from across the state to attend the rally, including Bill Whitehead, Chairman of the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System (ASRWSS) on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Whitehead has been

Keystone XL, drinking water, Bill Whitehead, water commission, ASRWSS, pipeline spills, Yellowstone River, Dena Hoff, Northern Plains Resource Council

​(Dena Hoff speaks at the rally.)

on the water commission for the past 11 years, is a former member of the Fort Peck executive board, and a former state legislature. The ASRWSS is a $302 million water supply project that supplies water to 30,000 people on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and surrounding areas in Montana. The ASRWSS intake is downstream of Keystone XL’s proposed Missouri River crossing. Based on the experience of oil pipeline spills that have contaminated waters significant distances downstream, including spills in the Yellowstone River in Montana, a spill from the Keystone XL could contaminate the ASRWSS.

“We have to protect this land,” said Whitehead, a speaker at the rally. “Right now we are trying to protect in Northeastern Montana, 3,200 miles of [ASRWSS] pipeline, using our treaty rights and our water compact of the Assiniboine and Sioux nation.” Whitehead continued, “There’s a lot of things that we can look at in terms of commonality. And water affects us all. We all need water in order to survive.”

Dena Hoff, an irrigated farmer on the Yellowstone River near Glendive and a past chair of Northern Plains Resource Council, also spoke at the rally. The January 2015 Bridger Pipeline oil spill happened near Hoff’s sheep pasture. Hoff also farms downstream from where Keystone XL would cross the Yellowstone.

Speaking to the crowd, Hoff shared her concerns about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: “I’ve seen what a 12 inch oil pipeline can do, and I can’t imagine the damage a 36 inch pipeline could cause.”

Hoff is a declarant in the Northern Plains Resource Council et al v. Shannon et al federal legal case against the Trump Administration’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Oral arguments were held in federal court in Great Falls on the case early this afternoon.

“Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline’s presidential permit represents a hijacking of our government and a complete disregard for the due process of law,” Hoff continued, “The people have spoken. We don’t want this pipeline. We want clean water, clean air, and a renewable energy future for our country.”

The Trump Administration justified its approval of Keystone XL based on a January 2014 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Northern Plains Resource Council et al v. Shannon et al challenges Keystone XL’s presidential 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. If built, the pipeline would cross both the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, among others.


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