NORMAN — Earlier this month a retired teacher from Norman sat down, chained herself to construction equipment with bike locks and protested the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Elisabeth Leja, 74, was arrested for the incident in Okfuskee County and is facing trespassing charges but, it’s not something she regrets, she said.
“I thought, that since I’m at the age that I am, if someone’s got to do this and somebody’s got to be arrested, it might as well be people who aren’t going to be looking for a job later,” Leja said. “If someone’s going to be arrested, it might as well be older people.”
Authorities had to cut the cable lock she used to chain herslef to the equipment being that is being used to construct the 485-mile pipeline.
Leja is a part of a coalition that protested on Highway 62 in between Paden and Boley, Okla. on Feb. 4 where TransCanada crews were working on the project. A week later, eight others were arrested for protesting at a site near Schoolton, Okla.
Leja, and many others involved in the coalition, are concerned for Oklahoma’s waterways and the health of future generations. When the $7 billion project is completed, it will transport diluted bitumen from Canada’s oil sands through the Great Plains. It is slated to transport it from Cushing, Okla. through east Texas to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur.
“The North Canadian river, which the Keystone XL crosses just south of here, isn’t something that we can compromise,” Leja said. “These two years of drought have made our waterways even more sacred, and the dilbit they want to put in that pipeline is just crazy, it isn’t safe.”
A press release sent out by the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance coalition group stated that the corrosive nature of diluted bitimen makes pipelines prone to leaks and when spills occur, the heavier diluted bitumen sinks into the water table.