The weather turned as we got closer to the Reservation and the use of snowplows ceased as we crossed the tribal boundaries. It was night and the numbers of cars that had slid off the roadway on both sides of the road increased. Snow continued to fall, the road slicker as my son and I proceeded on gripping the steering wheel tighter, as if that would keep us more firmly planted in the tracks of the car we followed.
We stayed and got into the rhythm of the largest encampment of people on that site since 1876. Mornings were cold, nights colder. The flow of people entering the camp never stopped while we were there. We went to training, we signed up for media privileges, attended press briefings and were in the training for direct action when the word came that President Obama would not approve the Dakota Access Pipeline. Horns began to honk, joy was spreading in our direct action training on how to assist another when chemicals are sprayed in the face. The Veterans had arrived that day.
Fireworks began to light up the sky and we decided to head home before the blizzard arrived a few hours later.
The new administration's leader approved the Pipeline and work began and was completed a few months later with fracked Bakkan shale oil passing through it, on its way to Oklahoma. We are connected and in that connection not only by oil but by water. We cannot drink oil, and oil may certainly make the water it comes in contact with undrinkable. We are also connected to that oil and all the oil flowing cheaply through Oklahoma, the same oil making the industry the wealthiest in the history of the world, we fail to tax, as our state falls closer and closer to becoming a failed state, no longer able to serve the basic needs of our citizens.
The Keystone Pipeline, the XL's sister pipeline leaked this week. Not a few drops, but over 210,000 gallons in a field in South Dakota. We knew it would leak, all pipelines leak, it is just a matter of time.
The race to build these pipelines serves an urgency for an industry that is ultimately in the last days of its glory. Times are changing and with it technologies that will fuel our needs in cleaner greener ways are being developed, producing jobs not earthquakes all while improving our economy.
Mistakes can be made in this rush with the consequence ruined land and worse yet, ruined and tainted water. That whole movement the country was part of last year was around the inevitable truth that Water is Life.
Here in Oklahoma where we thought Oil is Life, we are waiting for our legislature to vote for the people and demand our corporate fuel producers pay their fair share, as they do in every other state they have producing wells. They have had a free and easy ride for several years, all as our state cuts programs that serve our citizens. It must be a lonely and frustrating time for the likes of Ben Loring, waiting for his colleagues to begin to do right.
LEAD Agency has been doing our best to do right for the last 20 years in our efforts to speak up for the environment and her people. Our organization started with a small group of people trying to figure out the language, the jargon in EPA files on the Tar Creek Superfund site, our watershed issues, how to lower lead levels in children and how to find ways to give the communities affected by these issues chances to learn more about them. We have sponsored the annual Tar Creek Conference with our 20th coming up next September at NEO College.
We have worked with schools and children through those years to empower them giving them voice through art and writing. We have advocated for Tar Creek and the Grand Lake and established our Tar Creekkeeper and Grand Riverkeeper Programs with the Waterkeeper Alliance and teamed up with our county health department and linked up with Harvard, Oklahoma University and other colleges in the state and beyond to examine the questions we all have had: are our fish safe to eat? how do our heavy metals affect our children and their future?
Our Community Garden is planted by children and our Little Free Library keeps our neighbors in books. We encouraged not only recycling but also reusing and reducing use and waste. We have encouraged residents to find out if their yards are loaded with lead and if they are to give permission to have them cleaned up for keeps for free.
All this to say we want to invite you to our 20th Anniversary Party November 30 from 4 to 7 at our office, 223 A. St. SE. Come by and say hello, give us your best wish for the future and your hopes like ours for the future we can believe in.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim