TUSHKA — An Iowa man locked himself to a piece of heavy machinery Monday in an Earth Day protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Alec Johnson, 61, was one of four people arrested during Monday's protest in Atoka County, organizers said.
Johnson took action to defend the Red River, according to the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. Organizers described Johnson as a climate justice organizer from Ames, Iowa.
It is the fifth protest launched by the environmental group in an attempt to block the Keystone XL pipeline.
The protest also fell on the final day to the State Department's public comment period for the transcontinental pipeline.
“This is our environmental impact statement,” said Richard Ray Whitman, spokesman for the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. “We are taking a stand to protect our access to clean water.”
Pipeline opponents are concerned about the potential risks of moving diluted bitumen from Canada's oil sands across the United States, citing the recent rupture of an Exxon Mobil line in Arkansas.
“I am personally amazed at how resistance to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and education as to what tar sands exploitation looks like continues to grow every day,” Johnson wrote in a statement before his protest. “Because it would be irresponsible, we're not stopping until the industry stops poisoning our futures with lies, unnecessary risks and death for their profit.”
Developer TransCanada is building the southern leg of its Keystone XL pipeline after failing to get a presidential permit for the full protect.
The 485-mile line between the oil storage hub at Cushing and refineries along the Gulf Coast is expected to be completed this summer.
TransCanada also has renewed its application for a permit to build its pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border.