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There They Go Again: TransCanada to Destroy Archaeological, Historical Sites in OK, TX

March 6, 2012

Oklahoma Citizen’s Fannie Bates blogs about the 71 archaeological sites and 22 historic sites expected to be destroyed by the onward march of the Keystone XL pipeline through Oklahoma and Texas.  According to an article in the Oklahoma University Daily (cited by Bates):

The Oklahoma Archeological Survey worked with American Resources Group and Steven W. Carothers and Associates Environmental Consultants to examine the likelihood of the proposed route damaging cultural heritage or harming the environment, survey Director Bob Brooks said….  Overall, the groups found the proposed pipeline route interfered with 88 archeological sites and 34 historic structures, according to the report given to TransCanada. Of those, 17 sites and 12 structures were considered valuable enough to recommend the company change routes….

The survey knows of over 26,000 cultural sites in the state it has to protect, but that number can be misleading, Brooks said.

“Just because there’s nothing known about those places, [it] doesn’t mean there’s nothing there,” he said.

If the survey does find artifacts a pipeline could damage, it suggests companies reroute it, he said. However, if the company decides it must follow a particular route, a team will go to the site where the cultural heritage was found and recover as much as it can before construction begins.

Bates objects that the remaining 93 sites are still valuable to Oklahomans and that a foreign company’s oil pipeline to deliver Canadian oil into international markets is not a good enough excuse for destroying them.  On the bright side, at least Oklahoma got a full count.  When the Keystone pipeline was being railroaded through the Dakotas, indigenous cultural and historic sites were never fully catalogued.  The State Department simply “estimated” how many sites might be affected by extrapolating from numbers along small portions of the full route, leaving 77% unexamined.  Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Tim Mentz had this to say in a March 19, 2008 letter to the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office:

The Standing Rock Tribal Historic Preservation Office has serious concerns regarding the Determinations of Eligibility and Determinations of Effect for the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Project. The Department of State has not yet complied with Section 106, as they have failed to fully inventory the pipeline corridor in ND and SD and have failed to complete consultation with the SRST THPO. We formally request that you do not sign the Determinations of Eligibility and Determinations of Effect, out of respect for Section 106 and the preservation of tribal cultural sites.

In conjunction with Section 106 federal agencies are required to consult with any THPO or Indian tribe “that attaches religious and cultural significance to identified historic properties.” (Section 101 (d) (6) (3)) The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe objects to the Department of State’s contention that the necessary consultations have already occurred. The meetings the DOS is referring to were related to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and were not the government-to-government consultations required by section 106.

Despite multiple formal requests, the Department of State has not surveyed the entire corridor. Therefore, comprehensive consultation is not yet possible. Seventy-seven percent of the corridor remains unexamined and may potentially contain cultural resources that would be disturbed in the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. A full survey of the corridor and a reasonable timeline for the tribe to review and evaluate all inventories is vital.

Without THPO consultation the Department of State cannot legally move towards Determinations of Eligibility and Determinations of Effect. Attempting to bypass consultation with tribal leaders is disrespectful and unanticipated comportment from Federal Government officials. We sincerely hope the Department of State does not continue in this vein, for the sake of effective and just federal undertakings. We ask you to reject the Determinations of Eligibility and Determinations of Effect, as they are unwarranted and incomplete without proper consultation.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

TransCanada and its buddies at state and federal agencies, up to their old tricks.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Lefurgey permalink
    March 8, 2012 12:25 pm

    There they go again…Those evil Canadians…Not only are they going to collapse the Earths climate (according to some NASA scientists), now they are going to destroy the heritage of the United States…Really!!!…It seems you are starting to believe your own propaganda…The damage this pipeline will do has to be on a scale of the Egyptians building the Aswan Dam and flooding The Valley of the Kings…How many pipelines and highways for that matter do you have criss-crossing the US ? …Speaking of Highways…What is another name for Asphalt???…BITUMEN…So does that mean the next time you see a paving crew patching a Pothole…Does that constitiute an oil spill??? With the visibility this pipeline has do you really think that evil Canadian company will not be enviornmentally sensitive and respectful of legitimate historical sites…I am pretty sure they will show Due Diligence as Fanny Bates acknowledged…a team will be sent out to invesigate the sites and act accordingly…If they do everything that is reasonable and practicable then there shoul be no issue…This is just the next level of demonizing the Oil/Tar Sands while trying to isolate and shut it down…So what if you collapse the Canadian economy along with it…Thats what all this is really about…Whats next ..Australia…After all there LNG ports will destroy The Great Barrier Reef…Right??? I guess it doesnt matter that Iran is trying to control the Staits of Hormuz and heading Nuclear…If they are succesful… How do you think Iran or Chavez (Irans ally) will be in supplying you with oil ?…I am sure they really look after historical sites or the enviornmnent…The oil people I worked with in Africa and Iraq personally witnessed women beig stoned in villages in Iran and questioned about anybody Jewish they knew…They wanted names, addresses and phone numbers…But I am sure they are going to deal fairly with the Great Satan…They know they cant take you on Militarily…Ther weapon of choice is OIL… I should thank you though…It was a big Wake Up Call for Canadas oilpatch and set us finally on a course finding other countries who want our oil…By the way…Did you hear about the new Gold Mine that is in the beginning stages in Northern Ontario…It will be an open pit mine 3km long by 1km wide…But its not those evil Western Canadians with all that climate killing Asphalt…er Tar sands…er Oil Sands… On the bright side of things we have been fighting this kind of thing since Maurice Strong(UN, Kyoto) and Trudeau (one of Canadas Prime Ministers) brought in Canadas National Energy Policy decades ago…It has only made us stronger and way bigger…

    • March 8, 2012 3:38 pm

      Bob, if you have a direct, on-topic response to the original post, you’re welcome to comment, but we’re not approving another one of these nearly illegible, stream of consciousness rants. Try to stay on topic and add something to the discussion.

  2. March 14, 2012 11:11 am

    I do not know whether this is a complete listing of the Oklahoma sites that will be destroyed for the benefit of TransCanada or not. I am waiting for a call back from Melvina Heisch, the Division Head at the Oklahoma State Historical Preservation Society. I fear that there are Indian graveyards along the Keystone XL pipeline route which are unmarked and were ignored. Our volunteers are spreading out across the area looking for historical sites that were missed. There is a lot of work to be done. If anyone wants to help, please contact Fannie Bates, MPH, at

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