Keystone XL pipeline protester arrested in Oklahoma

Norman resident Elisabeth Leja chained herself to a piece of construction equipment Monday to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and the transportation of diluted bitumen from Canada's oil sands.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: February 5, 2013
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Norman resident Elisabeth Leja went to jail Monday to show her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Leja, 74, was arrested Monday morning at a construction site between Paden and Boley in Okfuskee County, where TransCanada crews are working on the pipeline.

The retired teacher locked herself to a piece of equipment being used to build the 485-mile pipeline between the oil storage hub at Cushing and refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Okfuskee County Sheriff Jack Choate said Leja was arrested without incident after authorities cut the cable lock she used to attach herself to a track hoe. She is expected to face a trespassing charge.

A Keystone spokesman said the protest did not affect construction on the project, which is expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

Leja is part of a coalition working to stop the transportation of diluted bitumen from Canada's oil sands through the Great Plains, organizers said.

“The North Canadian River, which the Keystone XL crosses just south of here, isn't something that we can compromise,” Leja said in a news release. “These two years of drought have made our waterways even more sacred, and the dilbit (diluted bitumen) they want to put in that pipeline is just crazy, it isn't safe.”