Resisting the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline

The author meets with fellow activists and discuss the environmental impact of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.


| April 2014



Oil pipeline

The TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline is awaiting the phase four of its construction, a direct line from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

Photo by Fotolia/James

Detailing how people everywhere can make progress against the drastic environmental problems that we currently face, The Green Boat (Riverhead Books, 2013) offers the simple solution of taking small, positive and humane steps forward. Author Mary Pipher, Ph.D.—a psychologist and author of eight books—experienced a "trauma to transcendence cycle" when she learned that the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline was proposed to run through her native Nebraska Sandhills. In this excerpt from "Finding Shipmates," Pipher meets with other potential activists to discuss their environmental concerns.

The intensity of my emotions around the planned TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline required me, a reluctant activist, to become more involved. I invited my friend Brad, a soft-spoken organic gardener, and my friend Marian, from nearby Spring Creek Prairie, to my house to discuss what we could do to stop Trans-Canada from shipping tar sands sludge through our state.

We met over soup and artisan sourdough. I wanted the event to be more like a party than a meeting. I assumed that my friends were like me—too busy already and tired at the end of a workday. They would only return if they were relaxed and having fun.

We shared what little we knew about the pipeline and talked about people in our community who might be interested in joining our cause. We agreed that for our next meeting, in a week, we would invite anyone we knew who might want to jump on board.

Eight people came to that next meeting. Mitch was a young, clean-cut guy from the mayor’s office. Jane, director of a political nonprofit called Bold Nebraska, had driven in from Hastings, leaving her two daughters, Kora and Maya, at home with her husband. She was a commanding, articulate woman dressed in a stylish outfit and cowboy boots. Malinda, her Lincoln assistant, arrived with yard signs and bumper stickers that said “Stop the XL Pipeline.” Like all the young people that eventually joined our coalition, Malinda had plenty of enthusiasm and gumption.

Ken, a tall, skinny, tired-looking lobbyist for the Nebraska Sierra Club; Duane, the director of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation; and Tim, the director of Nebraskans for Peace, came, too. Tim had helped organize 350.org of Omaha and was working with our power districts on ways to increase the amount of clean energy we have in our state.