Tar Sands, Alberta - Photo: Ian MacKenzie

Stop the Tar Sands: Massive Nonviolent Protest to Hit the White House

Washington, D. C. Activism
by Ian MacKenzie Aug 18, 2011
From Aug 20-Sept 3, join the action as citizens descend on Washington DC to stop the ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

“I DO NOT WANT YOUR MERCY. I want you to join me.” With these words, eco-activist Tim DeChristopher called on all citizens who care for the future of the planet to stand up. And it looks like people are listening.

From August 20th–September 3rd, the group Tar Sands Action is planning a peaceful protest in Washington DC to defuse the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, what they call, “the largest carbon bomb in North America.” Over 2000 people are already committed, including Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, and many more.

Acorrding to their site, here’s the plan:

This is not a single “day of action”, but instead a wave of civil disobedience […] that will put sustained pressure and a bigger spotlight on these issues.The current plan is to commit a simple, sit-in style action at The White House fences, where there is a statute that restricts such activities. This action will be repeated daily as people come into town, keeping this sustained pressure on the issues.

We expect people to remain civil and peaceful, acting in a dignified manner that is as serious as these issues are. While arrests are a potential outcome from this action – being arrested is not the goal: Our intent is to send a message that these issues are so urgent and serious that we will escalate our pressure and commitment to make sure that the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved. If that involves risking arrest, we are prepared and willing to take that risk and deal with the consequences. We believe that the risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of taking action.

Jason Mark, Editor of Earth Island Journal, believes this rally is significant for two reasons:

First, and most obviously, this project is a horrible idea. Unsatisfied with the existing Keystone pipeline, the oil vendors in Alberta are ordering up the Keystone XL — which sounds to me like the supersizing of climate destruction. According to Cambridge Energy Research Associates, getting a barrel of oil from the tar sands mines to your car involves 40 to 70 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than does an average barrel of oil. […] Investing new financial capital into additional fossil fuel infrastructure is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing to stabilize carbon emissions.

Secondly, the protests should provide a shot in the arm to an environmental movement still bruised and confused from the defeat last year of comprehensive climate legislation. Since it crosses an international border, the pipeline’s fate rests with the US State Department; which means that, if he wants, President Obama can put a kibosh on the whole idea. But that kind of political courage on the part of the president will require some grassroots pressure.

The concerned citizens rallying at the White House gates are there to provide that. Equally important, the tar sands warriors will be providing others with an example of what courageous citizenry looks like. The organizers of the White House protests claim the action will be “the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the climate movement.”

WANT TO JOIN THEM? Pledge your support and spread the word here.

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