Environmental Leaders Encourage Civil Disobedience To Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

Last week, eleven veterans of the environmental movement issued an open letter to Canadians and Americans inviting them to participate in a massive public protest of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

The letter’s signatories, which include David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, and Wendell Berry and climate scientist James Hansen, say that the time has come to move from letter writing and petition signing to something that’s more likely to get the government’s attention: civil disobedience at the nation’s capital.

The invitation can be read in its entirety at tarsandsaction.org, but here are a few choice excerpts (emphasis and links added):

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.

And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.

These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a  certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These  local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. The US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can ‘adapt their physiology’ to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington.

This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, till the administration understands we won’t go away. Not all of us can actually get arrested—half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada—the decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.

Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn’t worked. Maybe moral witness will help. You have to start somewhere, and we choose here and now.

If you are ready to stand up and be counted with those who believe America can and should make a drastic choice to abandon its fossil fuel addiction, sign up for the Tar Sands Action here.

You can also show the Obama administration that you oppose the Keystone XL by signing this petition.

Related Reading:

Avatar Director Disapproves Of Canadian Tar Sands

Can Liquid Salt Make The Tar Sands Easier To Swallow?

Canada’s Oil Sands Threaten To Speed Global Warming


Image Credit: Flickr – environmentnorth


Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

Canadians pay more for our oil then the US does!

Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

Micheal M. I just sent an email to Steven Harper telling him we are not radicals,we are caring proud Canadians and thousands of Americans feel the same way, about this pipeline to Texas etc. etc. You can get the email address from google. Tell him what you think.

James H.
James Hager6 years ago

dont blame them

Ruth R.
Ruth R6 years ago

Singed petitions earlier.

Ruth R.
Ruth R6 years ago

You who support the pipeline, you did not care, so you plan to kill the planet.

Robert O.
Bob B6 years ago

I have no involvement with oil companies and gain nothing from what they do or don't do.

But the easily verifiable facts about oil produced in Canada are:

1. Canada is the USA's largest supplier of oil.

2. Canada has among the world's highest standards regarding the environment and worker's rights - and unions are well received by the oil industry.

3. Oil suppliers like Nigeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela have among the world's lowest environmental and worker's rights - and unions are not allowed.

4. Canada sells oil to the USA at $20 to $30 per barrel cheaper than the other oil suppliers do.

5. None of the new oil sands projects in Canada since the mid-1990's are open pit mines. They are all SAGD or similar which has less environmental impact than conventional oil.

6. Retired open pit oil mine areas are put back into their original natural state including local plants, trees, weeds, bugs, soil, rodents, marshes, etc.

Try to have an open mind, check into these facts and don't just believe what other people tell you.

Michael MacDonald

@Scott M.

I've been following david suzuki since the early 90's

If you're going to claim something so outrageously ridiculous about david suzuki,
then I challenge you to prove it.

You can't, because it's 100% lies and anyone who follows him will know this right away.

well, you can't be an environmentalist without having crazy trolls making up propaganda against you.

Michael MacDonald

I wish I was near Ottawa right now
because I'd be on this in a second

Grace B.
Grace B6 years ago

They say it will only leak once every seven years? Since when is once even acceptable. We have become too accustomed to living in a polluted world. I for one would like to change that.

Hugh Mcintyre
Hugh Mcintyre6 years ago

great article!