Did you hear the news? TransCanada (“TC Energy”) got a $7 BILLION BAILOUT this week from the Canadian province of Alberta’s government, and — despite the world being in the midst of the most contagious public health threat in modern history — announced that workers are moving into Montana to begin initial construction on the Keystone XL pipeline. 
As the coronavirus public health emergency forces statewide lockdowns across the country, TransCanada is barreling full speed ahead with plans to send thousands of workers into rural and Tribal communities along the path of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
These communities are unequipped to handle the additional potential strain on their rural hospitals and Indian Health Service facilities, with “big city” hospitals like Omaha potentially hours away from these man camps and surrounding towns. Research has shown that 25% or more of those infected with coronavirus are “asymptomatic” and both feel and appear completely healthy, yet are still highly contagious despite displaying no symptoms. 
The proposed Keystone XL man camps would house hundreds together in close quarters, where they’ll share bedrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias, and trucks — which they’ll be driving into rural towns wanting to visit any local bars and restaurants. In the meantime, during man camp construction, it’s expected out-of-state Keystone XL workers would stay in local motels. The Keystone XL workers that already invaded Montana this week are reportedly staying in local motels, the only “quarantine” they face being to go straight home after work — but they continue to work on-site alongside the local construction crews and Montana workforce. 
This is a time when we must recognize the health and safety of everyone — especially the most vulnerable and marginalized communities — is integral to the health and safety of our entire country. That’s why we are all making sacrifices to protect our friends, families, and neighbors. There is absolutely no need to risk the health and safety of construction workers or rural communities right now for a foreign corporation’s tarsands export pipeline project.
On other large energy projects that have not halted activity during the pandemic, there have already been reports of coronavirus infections of man camp workers at BP’s Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, and LNG Canada’s gas export facility in northern B.C. [4,5], and of no social distancing onsite during construction of the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. 
Yet TransCanada continues to move ahead against all good judgment — and in spite of the company not having even secured all the necessary federal, state and local permits for the Keystone XL project — which is also facing three federal court challenges to various permits, and lawsuits from landowners in Nebraska fighting eminent domain seizure of their land.
TC Energy must immediately today halt all “pre-construction” activity on the Keystone XL project — and recall all workers it has already dispatched into the small rural and Tribal communities of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Furthermore, we call on TC Energy to start prioritizing the health and well-being of its workers during this public health threat, and provide full support for unemployed workers.
(Photo above: Faith Spotted Eagle (right) and members and supporters of Brave Heart Society and the Yankton Sioux Tribe inside a solar-equipped tiny house built to take on tour of proposed KXL “man camp” locations to raise awareness about MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women). The tour has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus public health emergency. Photographer: Jen Cohen)
Thanks for standing with us (and staying home!),
Mark Hefflinger and the Bold team
 “Keystone XL to proceed with $7B commitment from Alberta government,” Calgary Herald, 3/31/20.
 “Estimates of 25 to 50 percent of coronavirus patients don’t experience symptoms,” The Hill, 4/1/20.
 “KXL To Go Forward Amid Pandemic,” Glasgow Courier, 4/1/20.
 “Prudhoe Bay worker tested positive for COVID-19, BP Alaska says,” Anchorage Daily News,
 “COVID-19 case confirmed on LNG Canada worksite in northern B.C.,” Global News Canada, 4/1/20.
 “Burnaby residents claim no social distancing in Trans Mountain construction,” Burnaby Now, 3/31/20.
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