New tree protesters attempt to block Keystone XL

Environmental activists have set up another camp in platforms more than 50 feet above the ground in an attempt to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas.

The platforms, located in Diboll — about 110 miles northeast of Houston — are along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline and are connected to surrounding trees with lines as long as 100 feet, according to Tar Sands Blockade, a group opposed to the pipeline.

If the lines are disturbed the platforms will “dump” the protesters from their perches in the trees, according to a Tar Sands Blockade press release.

David Dodson, a spokesman for TransCanada, which is building Keystone XL, said it was not clear if the protests were on the pipeline route. No work is under way in the area, so none has been affected by the latest protest, Dodson said.

This is the second effort to block the Keystone XL pipeline involving protesters camped out in trees in front of construction crews. Another tree village in the Northeast Texas town of Winnsboro temporarily stumped construction crews, who eventually made a swift change of course to cut trees around the protesters and alter the pipeline path.

“The viability of this blockade depends entirely on the safe conduct of TransCanada and local police forces,” Tar Sands Blockade said in a press release. “They could easily end it by cutting ropes and seriously injuring or killing the tree sitters.”

The two protesters on the elevated platforms, identified as Audrey and Mike, “know the risks,” the group said. “They are prepared to stay on their platforms, just big enough to lie down on, indefinitely, to defend their collective home from the expansion of tar sands exploitation that Keystone XL would usher in.”