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WATCH: Native American songs break out as U.S. Senate rejects Keystone XL pipeline

See video
Video by Red Power Media

A Native American song broke out in the gallery when the Senate rejected the controversial Keystone XL pipeline yesterday, according to Red Power Media. Shortly after Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe burst into song, he and four other supporters were dragged out by police, and reportedly continued singing while allegedly being knocked to the floor and arrested. 

Despite predictions that the new Republican-controlled Senate would approve TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal, the pipeline was rejected 59-41 in a dramatic vote today. The "yay" side needed 60 votes, and missed by just one vote.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposal to deliver 830,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day from Alberta's oil sands into the refineries in the mid-west and Gulf Coast in the U.S. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well as federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, have visited Washington on several occasions to lobby on behalf of the project. However, the pipeline has triggered heavy opposition from environmentalists and civilians in the U.S., with acclaimed climate advocate Bill McKibben saying the Keystone XL will be the fuse to a carbon bomb that would destabilize the earth's climate.

Keystone XL proponents predicted approval for the pipeline on Monday night, with all 45 Republican Senators saying they will support the legislation and 14 Democrats are publicly on board with the plan. Pundits had predicted that although U.S. President Barack Obama has the power to veto the pipeline, he likely cave in if both the House and Senate voted yes to the project. 

Kochs stand to gain billions if Keystone XL built

The rejection comes as a big blow to David and Charles Koch, the U.S. oil billionaires who have used their fortunes to fund the Republican Party and the libertarian Tea Party movement. 

The Washington Post confirmed in April that the Koch brothers are currently the largest leaseholders in Alberta's tar sands. With close to 2 million acres in Alberta's bitumen fields, the Koch brothers own more than oil companies like Suncor and CNRL, and could stand to gain $100 billion if the Keystone XL pipeline were built. 

The Kochs are said to have spent 77 million to help Republicans win the House and Senate. Nearly the day after the Republicans took control of the Senate, people started talking about Keystone XL pipeline being approved. 

The Koch brothers have influence in Western Canada as well, spending $765,000 in recent years in donations to the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, which publishes reports casting doubt on climate change being caused by human activities like fossil fuel extraction. 

Canada disappointed

Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, Greg Rickford, said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision, and argued that Keystone XL would "create jobs, long-term economic prosperity, energy security and environmental stewardship on both sides of our shared border."

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Athabasca tar sands, photographed by Andrew S. Wright

Tar Sands Reporting Project

Our award-winning team's crowd-funded series on the people, places and conflicts associated with Canada's tar sands.