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Tarnation: Environmentalists, landowners and Valero await decision on the Keystone XL pipeline

Photo: Photos by Tar Sands Blockade / LauraBorealis, License: N/A

Photos by Tar Sands Blockade / LauraBorealis

A protester is arrested outside Wells, Texas.

Photo: , License: N/A

Protester sits in the trees above the Keystone XL pipeline construction outside Wells, Texas.

And it's no longer just the young blockaders willing to face arrest. With Obama's decision about Keystone XL expected in the coming months, the Sierra Club last week announced that for the first time in the environmental group's 120-year history members will use civil disobedience to try to stop the pipeline.

Back in November, in an attempt to stall Keystone XL's construction, protesters outside Wells took to the trees. They sat in platforms suspended 50 feet in the air by lines tethered to heavy equipment on the ground. When demonstrators below tried blocking a cherry picker, brought in to pluck protesters from their treetops, authorities again broke out the pepper spray.

Onlookers jeered when an elderly woman got dosed in the face. Recovering from the sting, she considered the nearby deputy, and spat, "He was just hateful."

With the tree-sitters removed, their supplies crashed to the ground when authorities cut their platform support lines.

And the construction resumes.

Andrew Oxford contributed reporting

September 19, 2008:
U.S. State Department receives application from TransCanada to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, and announces it will conduct an environmental impact assessment.

April 16, 2010:
State Department releases a draft environmental impact statement, which claims the pipeline will have little adverse environmental impact.

December, 2010:
Meetings begin between State Department and recognized Indian tribes.

April 2011:
State Department updates environmental impact assessment after criticism from environmental groups and worries from the EPA. State begins public meetings in six states along the
pipeline route.

August 2011:
State Department starts 90-day review period to determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

October 2011:
Nebraska lawmakers call for a special session to debate the Keystone XL pipeline and its environmental assessment, worried the pipeline will run over the state's environmentally sensitive Sand Hills.

December 23, 2011:
Obama signs bill to extend the payroll tax cuts. Attached to the bill is a provision requiring the president to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days.

January 18, 2012:
Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, saying the State Department doesn't have time to fully weigh the project.

February 2012:
TransCanada announces it will file another application for the pipeline. Obama agrees to fast-track the southern Oklahoma-Texas section of the pipeline.

January 22, 2013:
Nebraska Governor Dave Heinemann approves the pipeline's revised route through his state. The move puts further pressure on Obama to make a decision.

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