The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota is opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. They are so against the pipeline, they are trying to keep drivers who may be a part of the process off of their land.
Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott recently instructed tribal police to tell all truck drivers hauling equipment related to the pipeline or oil fields that they are not welcome on the reservation or allowed to use the Rosebud Casino Fuel Plaza.
The tribe want trucks to stay off of U.S. 83, which is “a main route for trucks hauling equipment to oil fields in North Dakota, runs through the Rosebud Reservation in southern South Dakota,” the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has now joined forces with other tribes, landowners, environmentalists and property rights activists to form the Cowboy Indian Alliance. They are a group focused on opposing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline of TransCanada.
“We simply request (drivers) to find alternate routes to transport their cargo,” said Josh Wilson, Scott’s administrative assistant and chief of staff. “That is not being said as a threat. It’s simply a respectful request in terms of honoring us as a tribe and our stance in opposition to the pipeline.”
Chris Gianacopolos, a driver for Hays, Kansas-based oil equipment manufacturer Hess Services, may disagree about it not being a threat.
Gianacopolos stopped for gas at the Fuel Plaza on Sunday evening. He was hauling tanks bought by oil company, Zenergy, Inc., which has nothing to do with Keystone XL pipeline or TransCanada. While filling up his tank, Gianacopolos was bent over trying to fix an air line that had broke under his seat, when he heard banging on the door and looked up to find a half dozen cars surrounding his truck.
He said a tribal police officer told him he needed to leave and head back south into Nebraska. The officer said if he tried to continue north on U.S. 83, his tractor-trailer would be impounded. Gianacopolos said the people there accused him of hauling for a subcontractor of TransCanada.
“The language they used, I won’t say. It wasn’t very pleasant,” Gianacopolos said.
Hess Services says it will stop sending trucks through Rosebud, but Logistics Manager Kendal Jones said the tribe is only doing damage to itself. Hess had an informal agreement with the manager of the Rosebud Casino that all of their drivers would buy fuel from the Fuel Plaza and return they let them temporarily store trailers in the parking lot.
Jones said his company and drivers spent about $10,000 a week at the station.
There were 4 trailers stored at the parking lot when Gianacopolos was at the Fuel Plaza Sunday. He had to spend Sunday night and Monday morning moving them to Valentine, Nebraska because the tribal police were threatening to impound them if not removed.
Wilson said truckers are being asked not to cross the reservation, in part because officials suspect some drivers have been going through the reservation to avoid state weigh stations. He added that the extra weight causes roads to deteriorate more quickly, but he did acknowledge that tribe officials don’t have authority to pull over trucks who are legally driving on the highways.
Hess Services said staying away from the reservation will not increase costs for them as there are alternative routes that take the same amount of miles to travel.
TransCanada hasn’t started construction on the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline and isn’t moving equipment, spokesman Shawn Howard said. The company is waiting for approval of a presidential permit, which it needs in order to build the pipeline across the border between the U.S. and Canada.
What are your thoughts on how the Rosebud Sioux Tribe has handled their opposition of the Keystone XL pipeline? How would you respond if you were in Gianacopolos position?