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Fight not over against Norman oil pipeline

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
Robin Stead speaking at the Stop the Plains All American - Red River Pipeline meeting on July 6.
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NORMAN, Okla. – The Floodplain Permit Committee voted on July 5 in approbation of the oil pipeline advancement through Norman. The large presence of opponents to the project and the disapprobation of Neil Suneson, a professor of geology at the University of Oklahoma and member of the committee, concerning possible erosion due to the low depth of the pipeline, didn’t change anything.

However, a group of irreducible Oklahomans decided to continue the mobilization against the oil pipeline. The Stop the Plains All American – Red River Pipeline’s group and the Red Earth group Sierra Club hosted a meeting to discuss the legal actions available to stop the progress of the pipeline on July 6 at the Norman Library. Special guest speakers were present including Richard Ray Whitman, Yuchi-Muscogee Creek multidisciplinary artist, and Robin Stead, an attorney from Noble.

“We have been working on this issue for about six months,” said Ashley Nicole McCray, a local activist, and member of the Stop the Plains All American – Red River Pipeline. “The pipeline does affect my tribe and my capability to practice ceremonies.”

“Somewhere between the teaching of the Western science and those from indigenous culture, there is some agreement on us now, we have this common idea, the water on the air we breathe and the service that help hold this up,” Whitman said.

Mekazi Horinek speaking at the Stop the Plains All American - Red River Pipeline meeting on July 6.

Then, according to Stead, there are 36 cases of condemnations only in Cleveland County against the oil company, Plains All American, far from the two or three cases usually registered saying, “That is a lot! It means that is not the way it should work.”

Stead said Oklahoma will get no benefit from Plains All American’s pipeline crossing the state and Norman, from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to Texas.

And according to Christina Owen, Democrat candidate for U.S. House District 04, a representative of the pipeline company during a meeting for Cleveland County Safety Protocol, in March said after the construction of the oil pipeline is finished, only one job will be created to monitor the pipeline in the Cleveland County area.

Stead who is working to represent landowners against oil companies for 34 years said the most important things are to be organized, be involved and be empowered.

Richard Ray Whitman.

“I think to be with other people helps you be willing to stand up and say ‘I am not going to let this happen to me,’” Stead said, noting the easements are not perpetual and it possible to negotiate an agreement with the oil companies.

Stead added the principal preoccupation of the oil companies that build pipelines is money and therefore trying to delay the construction of a pipeline is a good way to get leverage against the oil companies for negotiating.

Furthermore, Mekazi Horinek, an Oklahoma activist for Native American rights, said the best way to stop the pipeline is to educate people about the consequences of such infrastructures on the environment. He added the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma has banished fracking.

“Most tribal councils are decided by 200 or 300 hundred people, so if you come in with hundred people, they are going to worry,” Horinek said. “They don’t want to lose their seat on the council.”

Ashley Nicole McCray.

Then Horinek said the pipeline is attacking the religious freedom of Native Americans because it could contaminate the water on the tribal area, which is considered by them as sacred. However, the most important for Horinek is "to take action” such as civil disobedience.

In addition, an attendee said some parts of Oklahoma area are tribal sovereignty land, which gives the tribes the possibility to stop the pipeline passing through tribal trust land.

Then Casey Holcomb, a local activist, and a member of the Red Earth group Sierra Club said to Red Dirt Report, a petition of 300 hundred signatures against the pipeline has been sent to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and other governmental agencies a couple of weeks ago, but without success. For more information, go on the Stop the Plains All American - Red River Pipeline’s social media page.

Photos by Red Dirt Report's Olivier Rey.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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