Nancy Zorn’s statement for taking action against the KXL pipeline

The following was written by Nancy Zorn, 79 year old grandmother of 10, resident of Oklahoma, who locked her neck to equipment yesterday on KXL construction site in Allen, OK.

I stand in solidarity with the earth, first of all, that was venerated by ancient people as the body of the goddess and is viewed as sacred today by many, called Mother Earth. It is the earth that provides the cradle for our birth and nourishes us throughout life. As it is necessary to our lives, exploiting its resources beyond its tolerance is suicidal. We are raping the earth, and it is calling out in agony. Tar sands extraction requires mining more soil than was used in building the Great Pyramid and the Suez Canal of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the ten largest dams in the world. All this dirt comes from Canada’s Boreal Forest, the rain forest of North America as large as the State of Florida, filled with massive trees that are nesting grounds for migrating birds around the world and home to many threatened species. These trees, that are nature’s best method of storing carbon, must be cut down, releasing the carbon and raising CO2 levels and global temperatures. Scientists say continued tar sands development will create a climate we can hardly imagine.

When the trees are cut down, mining can begin. This is an extremely energy intensive process. It is an extremely water intensive process. On-going operations in Canada use enough natural gas to heat over 3 million homes. The water becomes so toxic it often can’t be recycled and must be stored in ponds so large they can be seen from space, devastating the health of local populations. Once mined, the thick bitumen has to be diluted and forced through specially constructed pipes. One pipeline now in use ruptured 14 times during 2010, pouring oil onto farmland and polluting ground water with sulfur, nickel, lead and other neurotoxic metals. Even when lines don’t rupture, they often leak at joints because of corrosive and abrasive properties in the oil, and such leaks go undetected for long periods in our ranches and prairies. Tar sands oil is not normal crude. The calamity in the Kalamazoo River July of 2010 in Michian still defies cleanup efforts because oil sinks to the bottom. The river is toxic and uninhabitable for any life to this day. Now there is the spill in Arkansas. Will Oklahoma be next? The same kind of pipeline is slated to cross major aquifers in Payne, Lincoln, Seminole, Hughes, Atoka, Coal and Bryan counties.

Next I stand in solidarity with Native Americans everywhere, especially in Canada, where the vast toxic ponds are causing acid rain, polluting fresh water, and elevating levels of cancer. I would be proud to stand with Lakota Grandmothers, the heart of resistance to the destruction of their people. Many Lakota Indians live on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, surrounded by abandoned open pit uranium mines that prompted President Nixon to declare the region a “National Sacrifice Area”. Yet here they live to this day, 97% below the poverty line, with health statistics astonishingly worse than the U.S. Average, and a life expectancy of 44 years. These Grandmothers, including a survivor from the 1973 battle at Wounded Knee, work to reestablish a matriarchal culture that viewed the earth as sacred, but face retaliation for efforts to end the corruption, poverty, trafficking of drugs, and hopelessness that accompany forced assimilation into the American lifestyle. Also in the Dakotas are the Cheyenne river Indians and others in extreme poverty suffering more than any of us from increased air, water, and soil pollution. I stand in support of Idle No More, a Native American group consolidating power and protest in many states. Finally, there is the Cree Indian prophecy, which inspired Greenpeace. “There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does, a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it… they will be known as the “warriors of the Rainbow”. Scientists estimate that burning more than 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide risks catastrophe for life on earth. Energy corporations now have five times that amount in their reserves and will burn it all unless we stop them. The time for speculation and debate is over. I hope this one small action today will inspire many to become warriors of the rainbow. The earth needs us all.

Oklahoma Grandmother Locks Herself to Keystone XL Heavy Machinery — Halts Construction




      UPDATE: 4:30 4/9 Nancy released from jail on $250 bond.  Nancy is in high spirits but reports deplorable conditions at the jail – 13 women are being held in Hughes county in a cell designed for four.

UPDATE-  10:30am Nancy Zorn has been extracted by local law UPDATE-  10:30am Nancy Zorn has been extracted by local enforcement and taken into custody. Please consider contributing to Nancy’s bail fund.


ALLEN, OK – Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 9:00 AM – Oklahoma grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, from Warr Acres, has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery effectively halting construction on TransCanada’s Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline. This action comes in the wake of the disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower Arkansas, where an estimated 80,000 gallons of tar sands spilled into a residential neighborhood and local waterways.

Nancy Zorn

Nancy Zorn, Oklahoma Grandmother

Using a bike-lock Zorn has attached her neck directly to a massive earth-mover, known as an excavator, which has brought construction of Keystone XL to a stop.  Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother this year risking arrest to stop construction of the pipeline, and her protest is the third in a series of ongoing civil disobedience actions led by the Oklahoma-based coalition of organizations, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.

“Right now our neighbors in Arkansas are feeling the toxic affect of tar sands on their community. Will Oklahoma neighborhoods be next?” asked Zorn before taking action today. “I can no longer sit by idly while toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada and into our communities. It is time to rise up and defend our home. It is my hope that this one small action today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.”

Exxon Mobil’s recent Pegasus pipeline spill has forced local residents to evacuate their homes due to life-threatening toxins released into their neighborhood. Local families have experienced episodes of nausea, headaches, and respiratory problems due to acute exposure to deadly chemicals, like benzene, that are mixed in with the raw tar sands. Pegasus was carrying up to 90,000 barrels of tar sands a day before it ruptured and spilled.  The Keystone XL pipeline is slated to carry over 800,000 barrels a day; an alarming 10 times the amount of tar sands.

“In the last two weeks alone there have been at least six different inland oil spills across the country,” said Eric Wheeler, an Oklahoma native and spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. “It’s time to stop referring to pipeline spills as accidents, it’s now abundantly clear that leaks are just part of business as usual. Tar sands hurt everyone they touch, from the indigenous communities in Alberta whose water is being poisoned, to the Gulf Coast communities that are forced to breathe toxic refinery emissions. We’re not going to allow this toxic stuff in our beautiful state.”

Action Camp Update: Day 1

Yesterday was the opening day of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance’s first action camp—and we’re incredibly thankful to the folks who have thrown their weight behind this struggle and whose history of resistance continues to provide inspiration and context.

The camp began with an opening ceremony led by Carter Camp (below, front right), and Casey Camp (in blue, left), with singing and drumming by Oglalla Lakota folks from Pine Ridge. Casey introduced folks, who came from all over the “United States,” to the region now known as Oklahoma and a myriad of the health and environmental problems caused by exploitative industry in Ponca territory-by-treaty.

Dwane and Carter Camp are both long time AIM (American Indian Movement) veterans.

Dwane and Carter Camp are both long time AIM (American Indian Movement) veterans.

The Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance is holding the action camp in response to the deadly infrastructure projects that are causing environmental genocide, and specifically the Keystone XL Pipeline being built through Oklahoma and carrying toxic tar sands that create more carbon emissions when refined than standard oil.


The ConocoPhillips refinery in Ponca City is one of the many refineries in the “United States” now processing diluted bitumen from the tar sands. We come together, from different backgrounds but with similar aims, to oppose the Keystone XL for the devastating and tangible effects of tar sands industry and infrastructure on communities.   From the point of extraction in “Alberta,” along the pipeline route, and living close to refineries on the Gulf Coast which are slated to receive the toxic cargo from the Tar Sands—such as the Valero Refinery in the Port of Houston.

The camp will be providing trainings of direct action and civil disobedience for an upcoming action this week.

New Video!

We’re incredibly excited for the upcoming action camp, with folks from Owe Aku coming down! While you’re eagerly awaiting news from next week, why don’t you check out our new video, featuring coalition member Casey Camp of Coyote Creek Center for Environmental Justice?  Join us in the fight against tar sands extraction, transportation, and infrastructure!

Action Camp Schedule

Great Plains  Tar Sands Resistance     

Tentative Action Camp       

Sunday March 17th: Arrival Day

6:00 p.m.  Dinner

Monday March 18th

Wake-­‐up call: 7 a.m.
Breakfast: 7: 30 a.m.
Morning Circle:  8:15 a.m.
Opening:  9:00 am -­‐  10: 30 a.m.
Tribal Government Representatives’   Address: 10:30am -­‐ 11:30a.m
Story  of  Oklahoma: 11:30-­‐12:30
Lunch:       12:30-­‐!:30
Story  of  Oklahoma ( Part 2): 1:30-­‐2:15
Break:       2:15-­‐  2:30
Decolonization  training:     2:30-­‐4:30/       4:30-­‐6:30       (A)
Anti-­‐Oppression  training:   2:30-­‐4:30/       4:30-­‐6:30       (B)
Dinner       6:30-­‐7:30
Action Planning:       7:30-­‐9:00
Evening       Circle/Ice       Breakers/intentions       for       Coming       Days:       9:00

Tuesday:       March       19th     

Wake-­‐up       call:       7       a.m.
Breakfast:       7:30 a.m.
Morning       Circle:       8:15 a.m.
TRACKS       BEGIN:       9:00 a.m.       -­‐12:00p.m.
Campaign Strategy (Roots) -­‐ 9:00-­‐12:00
Intro to  Blockades -­‐       9:00-­‐ 12:00
Advanced  Blockades Track:       9:00-­‐12:00       p.m.
Lunch:       12:00-­‐1:00       p.m.
TRACKS       RESUME:       1:00-­‐3:00       p.m.
Break:       3:00-­‐3:30       p.m.
Women’s  Relationship to Earth Panel with Casey Camp,  Jokay Dowell, Louise Benally and Debra White Plume:       3:30-­‐6:00       p.m.
Dinner       6:00-­‐7:00       p.m.
Action  Planning:       7:00-­‐       9:00       p.m.
Evening Circle:       9:00       p.m.

Wednesday:       March       20th  

Wake-­‐up  call:       7       a.m.
Breakfast:       7:       30       a.m.
Morning       Circle:       8:       15       a.m.
TRACKS       BEGIN:       9:00       a.m.       -­‐12:00p.m.
Lunch       12:00-­‐1:00       p.m.
TRACKS       RESUME:       1:00-­‐3:00       p.m.
Talks/Presentations:       Casey       Camp/       Debra       White       Plume/       Louise       Benally:       3:00-­‐6:00p.m.
Dinner:       6:00p.m.-­‐7:00p.m.
Action       Planning:       7:00p.m.-­‐       9:00       p.m.
(Legal Briefing:       7:00-­‐7:30p.m.)
Evening       Circle:       9:00

Thursday:       March       21st       
Day of  Action!
Friday:       March       22cnd:  

Gathering  of Thanks and Appreciation:       9:00       a.m.-­‐       10:30       am.

Feast  and  Debrief:       12:00 -­‐ 3:00p.m.

Closing       Ceremony:       3:00p.m.