Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline launched a civil disobedience campaign Thursday aimed at stopping construction of the controversial project.
Developer TransCanada Corp. has begun construction of the 485-mile pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast after securing the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Crews are working at several locations in Texas, with plans to move into Oklahoma this fall.
A group calling itself Tar Sands Blockade intends to stop the pipeline with a “nonviolent civil disobedience campaign,” it announced Thursday in a news release.
“We intend to delay construction of this dangerous project long enough to force the termination of TransCanada's shipping contracts and investments,” according to the group's website. “It isn't going to be easy, but inaction is far more risky than taking a stand.”
TransCanada officials said Thursday they are aware some groups intend to disrupt construction of the $2.3 billion pipeline.
“We have plans in place to deal with this if disruptions do occur, but we will not discuss those plans publicly for the safety and security of our employees and contractors,” a spokesman said.
Blockade organizers planned events Thursday in Cushing, Dallas and Houston in support of landowners who claim they have been bullied and manipulated by TransCanada.
The group's website included several pictures of protest participants with homemade signs. One was taken at the iconic sign marking Cushing as the “pipeline crossroads of the world.”
The pipeline, which is expected to be completed by mid- to late 2013, is expected to help reduce the glut of oil in storage at Cushing, but opponents worry about the potential environmental impact of moving the product from Canada's oil sands through the region.
The Obama administration rejected TransCanada's application to build the full Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf, but the company opted to proceed with the south portion.
TransCanada said it has received all necessary permits to build the pipeline between Cushing and refineries in the Houston area.
“Regardless of some people's opinions about this pipeline, we hope that they will conduct themselves in a way that respects the safety and security of our work sites and the employees and contractors working there,” a company spokesman said.