WEWOKA — An Oklahoma City man was arrested Monday after he locked himself to a piece of construction equipment to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.
Bob Waldrop, 60, chose to unlock himself shortly after Holdenville firefighters arrived on the scene. Organizers said he was concerned about his own safety as firefighters tried to remove him.
Waldrop subsequently was released from the Hughes County Jail after posting $250 bail.
“All farmers know that if you don't take care of your land, your land can't take care of you. And I'm here today because this pipeline is an enormous attack on the land,” he said, in a statement posted on the website of environmental group Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. “Here in Oklahoma and all the way up the Great Plains and into Canada giant earth-moving machines are destroying ecosystems.
“They are uprooting trees, murdering birds and destroying habitat, killing little critters.”
Waldrop is one of more than a dozen people arrested in Oklahoma over the past few weeks while protesting the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project, a part of the Keystone XL that will transport oil from the storage hub at Cushing to refineries in the Houston area.
“This latest illegal protest activity once again repeats previous incidents,” project spokesman Jim Prescott said. “It involved trespassing on private property by one individual, was apparently motivated by misinformation and a desire to place himself above the law, jeopardized the safety of the individual involved and workers, required the time and resources of local law enforcement, and briefly delayed one crew among dozens who are building the Gulf Coast Pipeline.”
Prescott said Monday's protest shows why TransCanada sought to obtain a temporary restraining order last week to bar some protesters from its construction sites.
“Those who engage in illegal activities when they enter a pipeline construction area should understand there will be consequences for their actions,” he said.
Prescott said TransCanada is not trying to infringe on anyone's free speech rights.
“Everyone has the right to express their opinion on public property or private property where they may have the permission of the landowner and don't interfere with pipeline construction,” he said. “But their desire to express their views does not give them permission to break the law, which is what happened this morning.”