The construction is beginning less than a month after federal Judge Brian Morris invalidated the permit needed to build the pipeline.
Indigenous rights defenders protested last week with a virtual banner as major oil company TC Energy Corporation (formerly TransCanada Corporation) started placing pipes in the ground despite legal challenges to its pipeline project.
"Not Today. Not Tomorrow. Not Ever. No KXL. Mni Wiconi," read the banner displayed on social media as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic kept activists and campaigners from gathering to demonstrate.
"We do not consent to their dirty tar sands KXL pipeline," the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) said on Twitter.
The pipeline’s construction is taking place less than a month after federal Judge Brian Morris ruled that the United States (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers had improperly issued a permit to TC Energy when it authorized it to construct the pipeline without conducting a thorough review of its environmental impact, IEN explained in an email sent Friday to supporters.
"The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Fort Belknap Tribe, and the Indigenous Environmental Network have ongoing lawsuits against the federal government regarding the approval of KXL, arguing that the international border crossing approval was illegal, that it violated treaty rights, and that construction during a global pandemic not only puts communities at risk of COVID-19 infection but raises the risk of sexual violence perpetrated upon Native women," campaigner Joye Braun wrote separately.
While the hearings took place in April, the ruling has not yet been handed down in those cases.
NOW: @TCEnergy is laying the first pipe for #KeystoneXL. In a pandemic. Indigenous peoples representing 4 tribes from across the pipeline route made a banner while sheltering in place to say: "Not Today. Not Tomorrow. Not Ever. #NoKXL #MniWiconi" Act now: https://t.co/PQF7w53l6k pic.twitter.com/mDd9bEfyA2— 350 dot org (@350) May 6, 2020
IEN called on supporters to stand against the construction by contacting TC Energy's financial backers including Chase Bank and Liberty Mutual, Alberta's Premier Jason Kenney, and "three governors who could force TransCanada to comply with federal and state permits and conditions: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts."
Running from Alberta, Canada, to Illinois and Texas, U.S., the Keystone Pipeline System has been staunchly opposed by environmentalists and human rights advocates, the project is infamously renowned as a symbol of the battle over climate change and fossil fuels.
The construction was temporarily halted during former U.S. President Barack Obama’s time in office, but President Donald Trump signed executive orders in 2017 to restart it.
The pipelines present many environmental and human dangers, including a serious menace to animals and their habitats, and an immediate threat to the drinking water of nearby communities.
It may also damage areas considered sacred by Original Nations, according to opponents who also said the pipelines may increase reliance on, and use of fossil fuels, further delaying investment in more renewable technologies.