Refinery Healing Walks Around the San Francisco Bay

Indigenous activists from Idle No More San Francisco (SF) have been working with 350.org to stand up to Big Oil for years. These brave warriors live near 5 oil refineries in what is known as the “refinery corridor.” This corridor includes California’s largest refinery, owned by Chevron. A 2012 explosion put this refinery on the map, sending 15,000 people to the hospital with respiratory problems.

In response, Idle No More SF organized 16 “healing walks” over the last four years. These healing walks have brought to life a beautiful vision of different communities coming together to pray for clean air, clean water, and clean soil for all who live alongside these refineries. Many of the communities near the refineries are people of of color, poor people, and Indigenous Peoples. These communities experience high rates of respiratory problems, cancer and other health conditions due to the extreme air pollution the refineries create.

350.org has proudly partnered with Idle No More SF in organizing and supporting past healing walks. In the months ahead Idle No More SF will be joining with 350.org and other partner organizations to begin work to stop new tar sands fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Together, we are also organizing to make sure that CA Governor Brown’s 2018 Climate Summit lives up to its promises to communities in the refinery corridor.

Thank you for supporting Idle No More SF and 350.org’s ongoing work to shut down these refineries and keep fossil fuels in the ground in the name of public health and a safe climate for all.–350.org

Poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner: Art v. Climate Tyranny

Twenty-six year old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit last year. She performed this video poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem,” written to her daughter. The poem received a standing ovation. Kathy is also a teacher, journalist and founder of the environmental NGO, Jo-jikum.

Art is the only thing that can stand in the way of tyranny.

Twelve Pacific Climate Warriors walked from Assisi to Rome last week and are praying in St. Peter’s Square. The Peoples’ Pilgrimage will then continue their walk to Paris in time for the UN climate talks.

TransCanada: ‘Sorry for the Disruption. We’ll be Playing Gentle Music and Getting Bolt Cutters’


In the category of “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up,” anti-Keystone XL hero Ramsey Sprague chained himself to the sound equipment at a pipeline industry conference in Texas this week. He interrupted the speech of TransCanada’s manager of quality and compliance, Tom Hamilton.

Sprague used his bully pulpit to explain the colossal dangers represented by opening up the tar sands and transporting nontraditional bitumen crude to refineries and the world market. When security guards asked him for the keys to his chain lock, he said he didn’t have them.

This situation prompted the exchange that should go down in history (and thanks, once again, to Democracy Now! for covering it):

Official: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d just like to say I apologize for this disruption. We’ll be playing some gentle music and be getting some bolt cutters, and we will resume as soon as we can. Unfortunately, we can’t remove the speaker without shutting down the whole system. But we will be resuming as soon as possible. Thank you so much, and again we apologize for this.”

Ramsey Sprague: “I really apologize that TransCanada is a terrible actor stealing land from my friends in order to facilitate a toxic tar sands pipeline that is full of holes!”

Come to the National Mall on Feb. 17 to rally for presidential leadership on climate change and against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Read more about Ramsey’s work here.

Video: ‘Developing Tar Sands Means Losing Control of the Climate’

“If we fully develop the tar sands, we will certainly lose control of the climate. We will get to a point where we can not walk back from the cliff,” says climate scientist Dr. John Abraham. The Keystone XL pipeline is the lynch pin to developing the tar sands in Alberta.

As many of you know, I’ve been paying attention to the Keystone pipeline development since 2011 when it was under review by the State Department. I joined a group of religious leaders to deliver thousands of petitions to Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, asking her to to stop the pipeline. I said to her, “If this decision about the pipeline was made purely based on the climate science, we wouldn’t be here having this discussion.” She didn’t disagree. The exploitation of tar sands will significantly worsen the climate.

Now, new scientific data shows that developing the tar sands (and the pipeline to carry it) is worse than previously known. The video above shows climate scientists countering the notion that the climate impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline are small compared to total U.S. global greenhouse gas emissions. Nathan Lemphers, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Pembina Institute, details how the Keystone XL is a critical ingredient to significant expansion of tar sands. He dispels the myth being promoted by the tar sands oil industry that tar sands development is inevitable with our without Keystone XL. That’s not true. All other routes are similarly being blocked.

Lorne Stockman, Research Director for Oil Change International, announced new research that shows that the emissions from tar sands oil are worse than originally believed. This is because the climate emissions from a byproduct of tar sands, petroleum coke which is made in the refinery process and is used in coal-fired power plants, have not been previously considered. “If Keystone is approved,” says Dr. Danny Harvey, professor at the University of Toronto, “we’re locking in several more decades of fossil fuels and higher levels of carbon dioxide and global warming.”

“Climate change is the story related to Keystone. The drought and heat wave in Texas cost Texans $5.2 billion. Hurricane Sandy cost us $70 billion,” says Dr. John Abraham, climate scientist at the University of St. Thomas. “Some people say it’s too expensive to develop clean energy. I say it’s too expensive not to.”

After the largest climate protests in U.S. history were held in Washington, D.C., in 2011, the fight against the Keystone XL went back to the regions along the pipeline route.

Hundreds have been arrested in their attempts to block the bulldozers. There are farmers engaged in numerous local law suits against TransCanada’s pressure on local governments to use “imminent domain” to force them to give up their property to the corporation. There are First Nations and American Indian communities in treaty battles to keep TransCanada’s massive machinery off their lands.

There are Buddhist nuns walking the pipeline route in prayers for the earth and her people. A 92-year-old Lakota grandmother stood in front and blocked the giant rigs hauling pipe. Twenty-somethings are launching “tree sits” in the construction path. A Baptist church in Nacogdoches, Texas, near the pipeline route, has launched a new young adult and youth ministry specifically for and with Keystone XL activists.

On Feb. 17, the movement will come back to Washington, D.C.

You come too. We need you. Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country. And for all good Christians to come to the aid of our world’s most vulnerable.

Feb. 17 (It’s a Sunday. It’s a Holiday. It’s the Largest Climate Change Event in U.S. History.)

In the fall of 2011, during two weeks of public demonstrations at the White House in Washington, D.C., 1,252 Americans ended up in jail, the largest and most sustained protest of its kind in decades. They had one purpose: that President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline. (See #NOKXL)

Why? Not because they hate oil companies. Not because they don’t want people to have good construction jobs. For one reason only: It will push us off the climate change cliff, from which there is no manageable or inexpensive way back.

During 2012 the fight to stop the Keystone XL went local. Everywhere along its route in both Canada and the U.S., citizens have been praying, blockading, chaining themselves to earth-moving equipment, sitting in trees, fasting. In other words, doing everything they can think of along the route to stop the pipeline. (See Tar Sands Blockade.)

Now it’s 2013. Hurricane Sandy provided a tipping point in the American conscience on just how disruptive climate change is going to be. It’s not just a climate disruption; it’s a climate eruption.

Now is the time to come back to Washington, D.C.

There will be at least 15,000 people on the National Mall on February 17, 2013, to demand that the President take clear and effective leadership to address climate change and start by nixing the Keystone pipeline project. If we take him at his word from his second inaugural address, then he’s willing … if there is enough public pressure.

I invite you to turn that 15,000 into 15,000 + 1. Find out more.

[If you still have questions about whether the Keystone XL pipeline is a worthy target or if opening up bitumen tar reserves in Alberta is any different than any other kind of oil drilling, the read the most recent article from Scientific American “How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming?”. It’ll set you straight and answer all your questions in detail.]

Bill McKibben: Climate Change Won’t Wait

I’ve been pondering climate change issues for awhile: praying, educating folks on what’s happening, shoring up my spiritual foundations by reading things like Hiebert’s The Yawhist’s Lanscape: Nature and Religion in Early Israel, strategizing, and just doing some serious thinking.

On the one hand, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). I trust completely in the abiding love of God here on earth and in the life to come. What happens is what happens when it comes to breaking God’s fundamental earth covenant and the cycles of human life.

On the other hand, the role of the prophets is to continually make plain to the people where they have broken covenant with God, what they need to do to turn around, and what is promised them when they do.

When it comes to addressing global climate change, both hands are in motion. I need to act with all risk and passion of the prophets and all the joyful confidence of one who strives to walk humbly with God.

On February 17, 2013, God’s people are called again to carry a message to President Obama: Take meaningful action to reverse climate change now.

Below is an excerpt from Bill McKibben’s most recent oped in the LA TImes: Climate Change Won’t Wait:

… With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to physics’ timetable, it will be too late.

It’s not at all clear that President Obama understands this.

That’s why his administration is sometimes peeved when they don’t get the credit they think they deserve for tackling the issue in his first term in office. The measure they point to most often is the increase in average mileage for automobiles, which will slowly go into effect over the next decade.

That’s precisely the kind of gradual transformation that people — and politicians — like. But physics isn’t impressed. If we’re to slow the pace of climate change we need to cut emissions globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year.

It’s not Obama’s fault that that’s not happening. He can’t force it to happen, especially with Congress so deeply in debt to the fossil fuel industry. But he should at least be doing absolutely everything he can on his own authority. That might include new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, for example. And he could refuse to grant the permit for the building of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. …

…The president must be pressed to do all he can — and more. But there’s another possibility we need to consider: Perhaps he’s simply not up to this task, and we’re going to have to do it for him, as best we can.

Those of us in the growing grass-roots climate movement are moving as fast and hard as we know how (though not, I fear, as fast as physics demands). Thousands of us will descend on Washington on Presidents Day weekend for the largest environmental demonstration in years. And young people from 190 nations will gather in Istanbul, Turkey, in June in an effort to shame the United Nations into action.

We also need you. Maybe if we move fast enough, even this all-too-patient president will get caught up in the draft. But we’re not waiting for him. We can’t.

Video: Connecting the Climate Change Dots

Last week I joined with folks around the world in “connecting the dots” on global climate change. Here’s a video from the worldwide event and a photo of our little “connect the dots” group at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C. Check out Climate Dots.

No Keystone XL: 800,000 Love Notes Go To Senate

Thanks to all who sent notes to the Senate in the 24-hour blitz to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from rising, zombie-like, from the dead. More than 800,000 messages went to the Senate over 24 hours, which is really impressive. Here’s a last image that you should take a moment to savor, showing our messages walking into the Senate on Valentine’s Day. This put a big smile on my face:

“The last 24 hours were the most concentrated blitz of environmental organizing since the start of the digital age,” explained McKibben. “Over 800,000 Americans made it clear that Keystone XL is the environmental litmus test for Senators and every other politician in the country. It’s the one issue where people have come out in large numbers to put their bodies on the line, and online too: the largest civil disobedience action on any issue in 30 years, and now the most concentrated burst of environmental advocacy perhaps since the battles over flooding the Grand Canyon ….”

Senate Republicans tried to saddle the transportation bill with an amendment that would reverse President Obama’s decision to block the controversial pipeline project. The Senate will begin wrasslin’ the transportation bill today.

Best Valentine’s Day Gift For Your Planet? Defeating Keystone XL Pipeline.

Right now, the Senate is considering legislation to resurrect Keystone XL, overriding President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline, and greenlighting construction of this disasterous project. The grassroots movement against Big Oil interests have put together a massive response to show them that approving Keystone is unacceptable.

Goal: 500,000 messages to the Senate in 24 hours to demand they stop the pipeline.
Why: The Keystone XL pipeline is made to carry a climate-killing brand of uber-oil that will dump 3x more CO2 into the atmosphere than we’re already dealing with.
How: Instead of “boots on the ground” this time, we are calling for an avalanche of e-notes to the Senate reminding them who they work for.

What’s the best Valentine’s Day card a planet could hope for? Defeating the Keystone XL pipeline … in the State Department, in the Senate, and any place else it pokes up its little head.