January 20, 2021

People-powered victory: Biden to stop Keystone XL on Day One

On Day 1 in office, President Joe Biden will fulfill his promise to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit by executive action. This is a massive movement victory of a 10+ year fight thanks to millions of people demanding an end to fossil fuels, and a signal that Biden is following through on his promises to protect people and planet. In late-2015, former President Obama rejected the permit for the project on the grounds that it would undermine the nation’s leadership to tackle the climate crisis. Donald Trump reversed this decision in early 2017. Construction on the 1,200 mile pipeline has continued to hit economic and legal obstacles since then.

Quotes from the Promise to Protect coalition members:

“For over a decade, Indigenous peoples and our allies have prayed, cried, and demonstrated to stop this evil zombie pipeline. We look forward to hearing President Biden take further action by stopping DAPL and Line 3. Nothing less than stopping these attacks by guaranteeing free, prior and informed consent and establishing a climate test will we consider to call this a complete victory. However, today is a great day. And I thank all that helped us get here,” said Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member, Frontline Community Organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network. 

“On behalf of the Ponca Tribe, we thank President-Elect Biden on his commitment to listen to the tribal nations and all of those involved in fighting this effort. We thank all the pipeline fighters, land owners, and all involved that have fought against this for so long and made this a priority for this new administration,” said Larry Wright Jr., Chairman Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.

“We stand together at this historic moment when the climate change conflict tide is turning to carry the thousands of prayers from the heart of the Oceti Sakowin. After thirteen years of family sacrifice, court and permit hearings, driving in snowstorms, endless testimonies and denials from federal agencies as well as institutional racism, predatory economics, land grabs and many more obstacles; we can take a breath. Now we begin the serious business of changing these violent systems to address climate change, environmental justice, and social inequity in our lifetimes. Our children thank you Mr. Biden for canceling the KXL Pipeline permit. Let’s get to work! We thank you for joining us to protect our water, the oyate (the people), sacred sites and for the wamakamskan (animal relatives) who have no voice but can now be heard. Our Native prophecies tell us that one day we will once again be able to hear the voices of the animals…that day is now. The grandmothers and the grassroots of Turtle Island welcome you to learn about Indigenous wisdom and knowledge of these locations of power and place. Wopida!!” said Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Dakota, Brave Heart Society founder.

“The climate crisis reaches our most vulnerable communities first. As a mother and grandmother of our Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nations, I’m grateful you have honored your promise of NO KXL which will support a greener economy and impact more than the United States. A promise that coming generations will hear across Mother Earth. Pilamiya President Biden,” said Paula Antoine, Dakota Rural Action Board Member, Rosebud Sioux Tribal Member.

“President-Elect Biden is showing courage and empathy to the farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations who have dealt with an ongoing threat that disrupted their lives for over a decade. Today marks healing, hope and a path for the clean energy that builds America back better,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska Founder

“We applaud President Biden for keeping his promise to stop Keystone XL, putting the health of our climate above corporate balance sheets. Alongside farmers, ranchers, indigenous communities, and countless others, we have stood strong for over a decade. We’ve worked to protect not just our air, land, water, and climate, but also the democratic processes, tribal rights, and property rights that have been trampled throughout this fight,” said Dena Hoff, Glendive, MT farmer and member of Northern Plains Resource Council.

“Indigenous people have been at the forefront of the fight for environmental justice and protection. Tribal Nations and communities are battling every day for the protection of their homelands and survival of ecosystems and ways of life. That’s why the ACLU of South Dakota supported water protectors, our Indigenous partners and their right to protest the proposed pipeline. It’s why we challenged the “riot boosting act” in court in 2019 and opposed similar legislation in 2020 – both unnecessary efforts to legislative peaceful protest in South Dakota that were sparked by a desire to suppress protests around the Keystone XL pipeline. The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy and at the core of the First Amendment. Wopila Tanka president Biden for fulfilling your commitment to rescind the Keystone XL permit,” said Candi Brings Plenty, Indigenous Justice Organizer, American Civil Liberties South Dakota.

“In the spring of 2020, then Presidential Candidate Biden, promised to stop the KXL Pipeline, amongst other actions to protect the climate – this was one of the reasons why we committed to mobilize the Native vote in the lead up to elections because not only would this action be significant for climate justice but also for advancing Indigenous rights. It is affirming that the Biden/Harris Administration have kept this promise, especially after four years of broken promises, attacks, and lies from #45. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration to strengthen Nation to Nation relationships and to combat climate change with bold action and Indigenous led solutions,” said Jade Begay, Climate Justice Campaign Director, NDN Collective.

“The KXL pipeline was set to go through the heart of the Oceti Sakowin Territory. The people came together, resisted the fossil fuel industry and stood up for our lands, water and rights. We will continue to resist and fight. We look forward to collaborating with the Biden administration in closing the DAPL pipeline and stopping the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. These are Indigenous lands and we need to return them to Indigenous hands to protect them, combat climate change and build a better tomorrow,” said Nick Tilsen, President & CEO NDN Collective.

Today is the result of years of dedication from grassroots organizers who not only made the cancellation of the KXL Pipeline possible, but whose votes made the difference in electing President Biden,” said Judith Le Blanc (Caddo), director of Native Organizers Alliance. “We are grateful for President Biden’s decision to move so quickly on environmental issues and uphold tribal sovereignty,”  says Judith LeBlanc Director, Native Organizers Alliance.

“When my granddaughter Riot Jennifer Rose first learned to speak, she would yell “you can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil”. Shame on us if we leave behind a world for our children that chooses profit margin over the health of people, community and planet. We have no choice but to continue to defend, develop and decolonize as these are responsibilities that build the power of our resiliency. The power of this day is ours. Take action,”  said Andrew Catt-Iron Shell, Organizer, NDN Collective.

“We stand in reverence to the decades of organizing by First Nations, farmers, and the climate justice movement that secured this major victory. The fight to stop Keystone XL was never just about one pipeline. Stopping this zombie pipeline means stopping Line 3, Dakota Access, and all fossil fuel projects. Coal, oil, and gas projects, without a doubt, catalyze climate change and fail a meaningful climate test. The stakes are higher than ever, and that’s why we’re escalating the urgent demand that Biden move America off fossil fuels and ensure fossil fuel corporations pay for the damage they’ve caused. Let this victory show: when we organize, we win,” said Kendall Mackey, 350.org Keep It In the Ground Campaign Manager.


Press contacts: Denali Nalamalapu, US Communications Specialist, 350.org, (347) 504-1057, [email protected]

Rebecca Terk, Senior Organizer & Lobbyist, Dakota Rural Action, (605) 697-5204 x260, [email protected]

Jennifer K. Falcon, Indigenous Environmental Network, (218) 760-9958, [email protected]