Activists Launch a Solar Campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

By Yessenia Funes Jul 10, 2017

Keystone XL pipeline opponents continue efforts to stop the 1,179-mile long crude oil pipeline, and their new plan relies on solar panels.

Environmental groups, including, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Bold Nebraska, a state-based organization born out of the pipeline’s resistance movement, launched the campaign “Solar XL” July 6. The idea is to place solar panels directly on the proposed project’s path. The groups plan to fund the first solar installations by raising $50,000.

The first panels would be in Nebraska to increase the chances that the Nebraska Public Service Commission rejects developer TransCanada’s remaining construction permits. Their energy will head to the farms and ranches whose land the pipeline is threatening. elaborated on this idea in its launch announcement:

Solar XL will help power the homes of Nebraskan farmers and homeowners who would be forced to allow the pipeline to run through their backyards. It’ll also send a strong message to TransCanada and [President Donald] Trump that we’ll never give up fighting for a renewable energy future.

On July 26, just 20 days after this campaign’s launch, the state commission will hold a daylong public hearing on the $8 billion pipeline. Public comments are expected to influence Keystone XL’s fate.

The pipeline has faced much controversy from the environmental community, particularly from indigenous groups in the United States and Canada. The pipeline is set to carry 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands through Montana and South Dakota all the way to Nebraska.

Some of this land belongs to Native American communities. They’ve made cross-border alliances to help stop the energy project. Native groups challenging the pipeline include the Great Sioux Nation and Ponca Tribe. From Canada, there is the Blackfoot Confederacy.

This coalition of Native and non-Native environmental allies seemingly stopped Keystone XL in 2015 under former President Barack Obama when he rejected a necessary permit application. Then, Trump signed a presidential memorandum to undo Obama’s work just four days after taking up office.

But opponents are determined: Along with this latest solar panel proposal, environmental and indigenous groups sued the federal government in March for the president’s move to issue the permit.