It’s a First: Sierra Club Endorses Civil Disobedience

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” President Obama stated in his second inaugural address on Monday. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

The very next day, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved the passage of the controversial Keystone Pipeline through his state.

That was enough for Michael Brune, Sierra Club President, to announce that for the first time in its 120-year life, the Sierra Club is going to engage in civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The protest will happen on Sunday, February 17 in Washington, D.C., a day that will also see Forward on Climate, the “largest climate rally in history.” Sierra Club officials point out that this rally is separate from the act of civil disobedience, which they are not releasing information about. But in response to President Obama’s words, the Club is putting pressure on him to stand firm and back up his talk with action.

From Michael Brune’s blog:

We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen — even though we know how to stop it — would be unconscionable. As the president said on Monday, “to do so would betray our children and future generations.”  It couldn’t be simpler: Either we leave at least two-thirds of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, or we destroy our planet as we know it. That’s our choice, if you can call it that.

The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We’ve worked hard and brought all of our traditional tactics of lobbying, electoral work, litigation, grassroots organizing, and public education to bear on this crisis. And we have had great success — stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants, and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and there is so much more to do. The stakes are enormous. At this point, we can’t afford to lose a single major battle. That’s why the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience.


That means rejecting the dangerous tar sands pipeline that would transport some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.

That’s because producing oil from sand has terrible impacts on the environment, including the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest, and the pollution of hundreds of millions of gallons of water, since each barrel of oil from tar sands requires three barrels of water to produce. The pipeline would also threaten vast pristine landscapes, rivers and wildlife as it runs from Alberta, Canada all the way to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and hasten the destruction of Canada’s boreal forests.

What will President Obama decide? Will he approve construction of this 1,700-mile monstrosity with its destructive effects on the environment?

“Now Is The Time” is the title of Mr. Obama’s proposals on gun control, issued just last week. It’s an equally apt title for the issue of climate change. The need is urgent and President Obama must act. The State Department is currently completing an environmental review and is expected to present the president with its recommendations by the end of March.

Meanwhile, see you in DC on February 17. And congratulations to the Sierra Club for making this choice.

What do you think?

Related Care2 Coverage

Why Tar Sands Oil Is The Dirtiest On Earth (Video)

The Foul Legacy of the Tar Sands: Lakes Turned Into Cancer Sites

5 Reasons Keystone Keystone XL Pipeline Is A Bad Idea

Photo Credit: The Sierra Club


William Troy
William Troy4 years ago

I like the idea of holding the president and all government officials accountable for what they say; we are too forgetful as a species at times. If we're really serious about helping the planet we'll move forward with alternative resources and leave oil in the earth where it can do more good.

Steven Silas
Steven Silas4 years ago

Nothing wrong with peaceful protests, or endorsing them.

Marie Russell-Barker

We must hold the President to his promises of a tough enforcement on pollutes and focus on cleaner energy which Fracking is not one of these.

Homer Elliott
Homer E4 years ago

This is an important act, and is beautifully consistent with the legacies of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau... a necessary act on this front... Our leaders cannot ignore the importance of acting on climate now, and to make a commitment to continuing to make real differences into the future.

Melissa L.
Melissa L4 years ago

Great article!

Linda W.
Linda W4 years ago

Thanks to Sierra Club

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Victoria S.
Victoria S4 years ago

I hope your protest succeeds

Brian McDermott
Eva Daniher4 years ago


Heather M
Heather Marvin4 years ago

Evil prevails when good people do nothing. Good on The Sierra Club for using action to express their strong beliefs.