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Greg Grey Cloud wants to set the record straight: Cloud, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, burst into song in the Senate after 39 Democrats and two Independent senators defeated a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline on Tuesday.

Immediately after, he was dragged out of the gallery by Capitol Hill Police.

The outburst broke gallery rules, which bar outward displays of support or opposition (and look unfavorably on noise in general). But the Keystone opponent says his action has been misinterpreted. Cloud says that what he did was not a protest against the pipeline. Rather, it was an "honor song" in support of the senators who blocked the bill.

"Once I heard the outcome of the vote, I was overcome with joy," Cloud said in a statement on Wednesday. "I looked down and thought, we need to honor these senators.... As a singer, I know only one way to honor someone, and that's to sing. I didn't mean to disrupt [the] Senate—only to honor the conviction shown by the senators."

In addition to Cloud, four other anti-Keystone activists were removed from the gallery after the vote.

Environmentalists have long opposed construction of the pipeline, which would ship heavy crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. They believe it will speed development of Canada's oil sands and worsen air pollution.

Supporters of the pipeline disagree. They point to a review of the project by the State Department saying that Keystone XL would not significantly worsen air pollution.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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