Elisabeth Leja is 74. She is a retired math teacher who does water aerobics and walks every day for her health. In February, Leja chained herself by the neck to a giant excavator in central Oklahoma that was digging the way for the Gulf Coast segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. (See related map: “Keystone XL: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.”)
Sitting a few weeks later on a sunny patio at her home in Norman, Oklahoma, Leja said she volunteered for the act of civil disobedience because she believes oil from Canada’s tar sands is toxic and a major contributor to greenhouse gases. She is equally upset that TransCanada, which is building the pipeline, is seizing some Oklahomans’ land by use of eminent domain. “We’re sitting on this beautiful land and only corporations are benefiting from it,” Leja said.