Stefan Winter, youth pastor, suspended and locked to KXL machinery (Photo by Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance)

A youth pastor from Oklahoma named Stefan Warner locked himself to machinery being used to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this morning. He was arrested along with six others who showed up to demonstrate and support him while he was locked to the machinery.

Warner, according to a press release from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, took action to protect the “North Canadian River and the health of the towns and land it runs through from being irreversibly damaged” by any leaks or spills. He wanted to send a message against this “current day colonialism,” which disregards the health and sovereignty of the indigenous people of Alberta. And he believes the pipeline is “unacceptable from a Christian perspective, as well as a human perspective.”

Before the action, Warner said, “I figure folks have to take action to stop our beautiful Oklahoma from being marred by a foreign corporation, and stand up to fight big corporations who think that poisoning people and stealing land is acceptable so long as they make a profit.”

He took action with the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, which describes itself as a “coalition of Oklahomans and allies fighting to prevent construction of the Keystone XL which will bring dangerous and toxic diluted bitumen from the biome-consuming Tar Sands gigaproject to refinery communities in the Gulf.”

This action comes after months of regular nonviolent direct action against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Texas by the Tar Sands Blockade.

In January, TransCanada bullied the Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North America, Rising Tide North Texas and other activists into a settlement where they agreed not to “trespass or cause damage to Keystone XL property including the easements within private property boundaries.” They either had to settle or face the prospect of a trial where TransCanada pursued $5 million in damages.

Last year, a former employee of TransCanada, Evan Vokes, blew the whistle on “substandard inspection and welding practices.” He said the practices make “ruptures inevitable” and said he had “documented repeated violations of pipeline safety regulations.”

He forced an audit of the pipeline in Canada through the country’s National Energy Board and pipeline resisters in Oklahoma noted his whistleblowing in their press release as part of why there needs to be action.

It is unknown what Winter or the others were charged with committing. As of 3:45 pm EST, they have not been released from jail. Check back for updates on their charges and release.