Monday, August 22, 2011

Catching Alaska and Alaska Blogs Up on the White House Protests on the Obama Role in the Keystone XL Pipeline

Bill McKibben
This past weekend, in Washington, DC, a couple hundred environmentalist began a civil disobedience action at the White House gate. Bill McKibben, founder of, was the prime organizer.  Other prominent organizers and civil disobedience participants were fromer U.S. Army Lt. Dan Choi, the nation's leading activist in the battle against Don't Ask - Don't Tell, and Jane Hamsher, founder of firedoglake (where I frequently contribute).

The goal of the demonstrations is to force Obama to keep from licensing the  Keystone XL pipeline.  Indications are that the president will approve the expansion of the existing system.  The House and Senate are not involved at all.  It is an Executive Department decision alone.

Saturday's demonstrations saw over 60 arrests, with some of the people being held by the DC Park Police until mid-Monday, on minor misdemeanor charges.  More were  arrested Sunday and Monday.  The total so far (as of Monday afternoon) is 162.  It is the largest set of intentional civil disobedience environmental protests outside the White House in years.

Sunday Tar Sands Pipeline Protesters
The organizers hope to raise national awareness on this sleeper issue.  To some extent this is working.  Mcibbon seems to think so.  Here's his statement Monday, after release from jail:
Okay! So we just came out of jail, and I’m a little tired and a lot hungry. But more than that, I’m as happy as can be. To find out, as we came out the door, that people have not only been carrying on this protest in the kind of — in the face of intimidation by the Park Service, but that numbers are growing and growing and growing. People are flooding into Washington from all fifty states. That was the best news we possibly could have heard.

Then to pick up the New York Times and see that the message has gotten through on a national level: their editorial page today saying “Mr President, stop this pipeline!” This is what starts to happen when people show what the stakes are. And, we’re a long ways from winning, but we’re a little closer than we were when we went into jail! And that feels real good.
And here's a bit from the New York Times editorial to which McKibben refers:
That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest—a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution. One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020—even as other sectors are reducing emissions.
The organizers plan on keeping the protests up into the fall, which might lead to the arrests of thusands of environmental activists on behalf of the Obama administration.  The crucial period in terms of presidential involvement in the process begins in late August, and lasts as long as 90 days:
The protests come as the U.S. State Department is about to release its final environmental assessment of the pipeline, which initially would have a transport capacity of 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
That report is expected before the end of August, and Obama will then have 90 days to decide whether granting the permit is in the U.S. national interest. By law, Congress is not involved, so Obama need not consult the climate change skeptics in the House of Representatives, who have already approved a bill to force a decision by November 1.

During September, the State Department will host public meetings in each of the six states through which the proposed pipeline would pass.

Meetings are planned for the state capitals of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, with an additional meeting in the Sand Hills region in Nebraska and along the Gulf Coast near Port Arthur, Texas. These will be followed by a final public meeting in Washington, DC. 
At 60 protesters per day, we may see over 5,000 people arrested in these demonstrations, which would make them among the largest sets of consecutive civil disobedience arrests in American history. Here's McKibben giving his release statement Monday:

For more information on this important civil disobedience environmentalism protest, go to Tar Sands Action.

1 comment:

nemcw said...

It seems to me that this production will ultimately depend on the people. I'm sure my idealism my cloud reality, but these prospectus are also ridiculous. Don't forget this is Indian Country. Where are the federal protections? We, the USA, stole that land. Perhaps we shall learn. Thanx, NANCY