Keystone XL: Everyday Without the KXL Is A Victory for Justice

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Update from Bill McKibben on latest Keystone announcement from President Obama:

Today’s Keystone XL news from DC is both important and murky. In brief, the Obama administration announced yet another delay in their decision about the pipeline, meaning it may be past the midterm elections before a final call is made.

Three things strike me:

  1. In pipeline terms it’s a win. Every day we delay a decision is a day when 830,000 barrels of oil stays safely in the ground. Together we’ve kept them at bay for three years now, and will continue to until perhaps the beginning of next year it seems.
  2. In climate terms, it’s a disappointment. Since the State Department can’t delay floods and droughts and El Ninos, we actually need President Obama providing climate leadership. If he’d just follow the science and reject the stupid pipeline he’d finally send a much-needed signal to the rest of the planet that he’s getting serious.
  3. In movement terms, it’s a sweet reminder that when we stand up we win. Three years ago this pipeline was a done deal, and thanks to you it’s come steadily undone. We can’t match Exxon or the Koch Bros with money; we can and have matched them with passion, spirit, creativity, and sacrifice.

So the Keystone fight goes on — we hope many of you will be in DC next weekend for Reject and Protect, joining the Cowboy Indian Alliance to say “hell no” to the pipeline.The Alliance members coming to DC next week are some of the strongest leaders in this fight.

If you can’t be there yourself, can you show your support for the Cowboy Indian Alliance by telling Pres. Obama and Sec. Kerry to use this delay to meet with them? act.350.org/sign/cowboy-indian-alliance/

The decision to delay was made — supposedly — account for the impact of a possible new pipeline route in Nebraska. As it happens, next week Nebraskans and members of US Tribes and Canadian First Nations will be in Washington — it seems to me that it would be prudent for the President and Sec. Kerry to make plans to meet with the Cowboy Indian Alliance at their encampment and get their story of what this pipeline would mean on the ground.

The climate fight can’t be delayed. We need to keep building the movement, and we need to keep putting heat on leaders like President Obama till we win not delay but action. Today’s DC decision just reinforces the message that if we stand together we will make a decisive difference — and there is an important opportunity on the horizon to do that in the biggest way yet, to be announced soon.

The last thing to say is thank you. You are the strength in this movement, and together we will make even more amazing things possible.

Forward,

Bill McKibben for 350.org

Sources: “Keystone Decision to be Delayed” USA Today, April 18 2014

 

Video: The Fashion Wars on the Floor of TransCanada Trade Show

The comedic interrupters Yes Men showed up at TransCanada’s “trade show” dressed in nearly identical blue shirts and khakis to answer questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and its cousin, the Energy East pipeline. Watch the video to see how you too can interrupt immoral corporate shenanigans.

Context: TransCanada is a mining company that wants to make money off one of the last massive tar sand deposits in the world. Climate scientists agree that expanding tar sands mining will force a massive amount of carbon pollution into the earth’s atmosphere and tip our planet over it’s energy budget. It is our moral duty to stop this from happening.

God established a liveable zone for human thriving. As strange as it seems, immoral leadership – both in politics and business – is wreaking havoc on the basic stuff of life – air, water, soil, and the most vulnerable in our communities — the unborn, the elderly, and those who are sick or weak.

Stopping TransCanada from expanding tar sands mining by stopping the pipelines through which tar sands sludge will be shipped is just one front on which we are called to wage peace, environmental stewardship, and the right to life.

Video: People Gather at Tar Sands Pit for Prayer and Healing

The people are moving. Our elders are asking us to take action to return the earth to a life-giving path. This 3 minute video provides a glimpse of this summer’s Healing Walk for the Earth at Ft. McMurry, Alberta. It’s incredibly well-done footage. Approach it as an icon — with the sense that God is looking at you through the images.

Keystone XL Would Divide Jobs, Conquer Low-Income and Native American Communities

notarsandsThe only argument FOR the Keystone XL pipeline that held any moral weight was that pipeline construction would produce “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The need for jobs is a desperate one. And any construction project will produce sporadic work. But no self-respecting hard-hatter would work on a project that’s going to overheat the world.

Read an excerpt from yesterday’s Sojourners blog post on the Keystone XL and jobs:

When it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, the oil and gas industry want you to believe that you have to choose between jobs and prairie grass. This tactic is called the “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule” strategy. It’s as old as the empires of ancient Greece and Rome. It still works because human nature hasn’t changed that much.

Two years ago I sat down across the table from Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, the highest ranking State Department official (short of the Secretary of State) to weigh in on the Keystone XL pipeline permit process. A group of religious leaders were delivering thousands of petitions to Dr. Jones 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’s a scientist. She knows the score. She didn’t disagree. “But,” she said, “everywhere we go across the country we hear about the need for jobs – especially in the middle of the country.”

Divide and conquer.

Continue reading “Keystone XL Would Divide Jobs, Conquer Low-Income and Native American Communities”

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.]

Video: ‘Thank You’ MTV’s Sway Williams! Obama Speaks on Climate Change


This week MTV’s Sway Williams got President Obama to break the climate silence, asking him a tough question about global warming. Obama says he’s “surprised it didn’t come up in the debates.”

Unfortunately, Obama’s answers are based on trying to get the U.S. to the Copenhagen carbon target, which scientists around the world resoundingly agree are woefully inadequate.

According to UK’s The Guardian, “The pledges made by governments resulting from the Copenhagen climate conference are nowhere near enough to hold global temperatures to the summit’s agreed goal of no more than a 2C rise, researchers have calculated. The results, which are the most rigorous analyses yet made of pledges submitted to the UN …, will increase pressure on rich countries to make far deeper cuts in negotiations over the next year.”

The key climate defense strategy right now is three fold (read more at Why Bill McKibben is the New Noah). If we do these three things, there’s a possibility that we can reverse climate change, restore health to our skies, earth, and oceans, and move forward into a future where our grandkids can not just survive, but thrive.

Here’s the plan (and look for Bill McKibben’s “Do The Math” tour this fall):

1. Divest or get active regarding all stockholdings in these six corporations: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Peabody, Arch, and BP. These are the primary oil, natural gas, and coal companies operating in or through the United States that top the charts as carbon polluters. If Americans focus on U.S. companies, then we can be the tipping point for a transnational shift. If you — or the portfolio you influence — own stock, then get rid of it and tell the company why. If you don’t want to divest, then you need to decide now to become a shareholder activist. If you’re not a stockholder, then pressure your faith institutions, universities, and local governments to get out of “planet-killing” profits. This is the economic part of the plan.

2. Push for carbon “fee-and-dividend” laws on corporate carbon emitters at the local, state, and federal level. No more free rides for oil, gas, and coal companies. You pay taxes to have your garbage hauled away. Why shouldn’t they? The fee is charged at the point of origin or point of import on greenhouse gas emitting energy (oil, gas, and coal). The fee is progressive (increases gradually) over time. The fee is returned directly to the public in monthly dividends to individual taxpayers, with limited-to-no government involvement. Australia initiated this legislation in June. We can learn from them. This is the legislative part of the plan.

3. Take personal responsibility. Everyone can continue to limit energy consumption, use renewable energy sources, and build out a sustainable footprint for our homes and churches. But we also need people to step up and put their bodies on the line to stop the mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines that are being built to transport Alberta’s unconventional “tar sands” oil. Scientists around the world say that opening the Alberta tar sands and pumping this non-traditional oil through these pipelines will put the planet on a one-way road to climate disaster. That’s why fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S. and the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada is critical. This is the direct action and personal responsibility part of the plan.

Read more about this here.

Largest Protestant Denomination in Canada Rejects Tar Sands Pipeline

The United Church of Canada voted on Tuesday to “categorically reject” the tar sands pipeline project that would carry highly toxic, climate-killing unconventional tar sands petroleum through pristine First Nation’s land in Alberta to British Columbia where it would be shipped on supertankers to China for processing. The so-called Northern Gateway pipeline is the Canadian end of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposed in the U.S.

In the U.S., some have argued that we should accept the tar sands Keystone XL pipeline because if we don’t the toxic petroleum from Alberta will just get shipped to China through a East-West pipeline. But the First Nations people and Canadian Churches are continuing to fight to make sure that pipeline never gets built. There may also be a strategic church divestment strategy to make sure that the United Church of Canada does not have any stockholdings in companies related to TransCanada, Enbridge, or affiliates.

In the U.S., we must do the same. In fact, ranchers and others in Texas are training this summer to nonviolently block with their bodies the pipeline construction bulldozers scheduled to begin clearing land soon.

Again, if we are to have any hope of reversing global warming, we must do these three things:

1. Divest or get active regarding all stockholdings in these six corporations: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Peabody, Arch, and BP. These are the primary oil, natural gas, and coal companies operating in or through the United States that top the charts as carbon polluters. If Americans focus on U.S. companies, then we can be the tipping point for a transnational shift. If you — or the portfolio you influence — own stock, then get rid of it and tell the company why. If you don’t want to divest, then you need to decide now to become a shareholder activist. If you’re not a stockholder, then pressure your faith institutions, universities, and local governments to get out of “planet-killing” profits. This is the economic part of the plan.

2. Push for carbon “fee-and-dividend” laws on corporate carbon emitters at the local, state, and federal level. No more free rides for oil, gas, and coal companies. You pay taxes to have your garbage hauled away. Why shouldn’t they? The fee is charged at the point of origin or point of import on greenhouse gas emitting energy (oil, gas, and coal). The fee is progressive (increases gradually) over time. The fee is returned directly to the public in monthly dividends to individual taxpayers, with limited-to-no government involvement. Australia initiated this legislation in June. We can learn from them. This is the legislative part of the plan.

3. Take personal responsibility. Everyone can continue to limit energy consumption, use renewable energy sources, and build out a sustainable footprint for our homes and churches. But we also need people to step up and put their bodies on the line to stop the mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines that are being built to transport Alberta’s unconventional “tar sands” oil. Scientists around the world say that opening the Alberta tar sands and pumping this non-traditional oil through these pipelines will put the planet on a one-way road to climate disaster. That’s why fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S. and the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada is critical. This is the direct action and personal responsibility part of the plan.

Read the United Church of Canada’s statement on Enbridge Corporation’s tars sands pipeline. Here’s an excerpt:

The 41st General Council has instructed Nora Sanders, the United Church’s General Secretary, to make a public statement “categorically” rejecting construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, which has a proposed route stretching from northern Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia.

Due to the timely nature of the pipeline review hearings, commissioners asked that this be accomplished soon. In addition, Sanders has been asked to communicate this decision to all courts of the church, the governments of Canada, Alberta, and British Columbia, Enbridge, and all Canadians through media outlets. …

Read whole article here.

Rose Marie Berger: Why Bill McKibben Is The New Noah

Noah and friends

Bill McKibben is a good guy.

He’s a Sunday school teacher. He’s funny and a little shy. But he’s got a big problem.

He just got a job from God — and it’s not an easy one. It seems to me that Bill’s been tapped to be the new Noah to our faithless generation.  It’s his job to warn us that we have “grieved the Lord in his heart” and that the flood waters will rise again if we don’t get back to working within our “original contract” and reverse climate change.

Remember the Bill Cosby skit about Noah and the Ark? Noah’s neighbors didn’t think much of him, and Noah himself didn’t know what he was doing half the time. But he had a job to do, and cubit by cubit, two by two, he did it.

Bill’s like that.

Last month, Rolling Stone magazine featured his latest plea for climate sanity on its cover. And despite every pundit’s whining proclamation that climate change is such a buzz-kill, Bill’s article got forwarded, commented, tweeted, and otherwise pushed around the Internet more than anything else RS has put out lately.

So somebody out there is paying attention to climate change — even if the elites can’t seem to grow a spine about it.

What I liked about Bill’s article was that he lays out a clear, 3-pronged strategy for really doing something about climate change while there’s still time.

If we do these three things, there’s a possibility that we can reverse climate change, restore health to our skies, earth, and oceans, and move forward into a future where our grandkids can not just survive, but thrive.

Here’s the plan:

1. Divest or get active regarding all stockholdings in these six corporations: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Peabody, Arch, and BP. These are the primary oil, natural gas, and coal companies operating in or through the United States that top the charts as carbon polluters. If Americans focus on U.S. companies, then we can be the tipping point for a transnational shift. If you — or the portfolio you influence — own stock, then get rid of it and tell the company why. If you don’t want to divest, then you need to decide now to become a shareholder activist. If you’re not a stockholder, then pressure your faith institutions, universities, and local governments to get out of “planet-killing” profits. This is the economic part of the plan.

2. Push for carbonfee-and-dividend” laws on corporate carbon emitters at the local, state, and federal level. No more free rides for oil, gas, and coal companies. You pay taxes to have your garbage hauled away. Why shouldn’t they? The fee is charged at the point of origin or point of import on greenhouse gas emitting energy (oil, gas, and coal). The fee is progressive (increases gradually) over time. The fee is returned directly to the public in monthly dividends to individual taxpayers, with limited-to-no government involvement. Australia initiated this legislation in June. We can learn from them. This is the legislative part of the plan.

3. Take personal responsibility. Everyone can continue to limit energy consumption, use renewable energy sources, and build out a sustainable footprint for our homes and churches. But we also need people to step up and put their bodies on the line to stop the mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines that are being built to transport Alberta’s unconventional “tar sands” oil. Scientists around the world say that opening the Alberta tar sands and pumping this non-traditional oil through these pipelines will put the planet on a one-way road to climate disaster. That’s why fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S. and the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada is critical. This is the direct action and personal responsibility part of the plan.

The threat of climate change is overwhelming. It’s been hard to sort out what to do. But Bill McKibben has given us a plan — one that everyone can join in, one where everyone can take part.

And even though he presents it in a folksy manner, this stuff has been vetted from the farmers on the ground to the economists in the think tanks to the scientists running the algorithms. When governments fail, people stand up.

This plan may not work to completely reverse climate change. But if anything is going to succeed, we’ve got to listen to Noah this time. Or rather, Bill.

Welcome to the fight of your lifetime.

Rose Marie Berger, author of Who Killed Donte Manning? is a Catholic peace activist and a Sojourners associate editor. She blogs at rosemarieberger.com.

Resources and Further Reading

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben

1. ECONOMIC

2. LEGISLATIVE

3. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY/DIRECT ACTION

92-Year-old Marie Randall Blocks Keystone Pipeline Trucks

Wanblee, South Dakota – Oglala Lakota Nation – March 5, 2012. Marie Randall is 92 and standing in the road blocking the trucks carrying segments for the Keystone XL pipeline. Five Lakotas on Pine Ridge Indian land in South Dakota were arrested Monday after attempting to block two tarsands pipeline trucks from entering their land. According to the Lakota activist the six-hour standoff started when the trucks refused to turn around claiming they had “corporate rights that supersede any other law.”

Here are three films on the Pipeline for use with your communities and congregations.

DIRTY OIL (USA, 2009, 73 min.)

Exposing the environmental and human rights issues in Alberta’s toxic oil sands, the film traces the environmental and social impacts of Canadian oil on both sides of the U.S. border. It follows pipelines from the Alberta oil sands to the American Midwest to witness how U.S. refineries, much like their Canadian counterparts, are increasing toxic dumping into the Great Lakes. It features interviews with top environmentalists, scientists, government officials, local residents and chiefs of nearby aboriginal tribes. Narrated by Neve Campbell. Directed by Leslie Iwerks.

PIPE DREAMS (USA, 2011, 40 min.)

Across the heartland of America, farmers and landowners are fighting to protect their land, their water and their livelihood in what has become a controversial environmental battle. This film spotlights the David and Goliath struggle over the tar sands Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed to be routed from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing the country’s largest freshwater resource, the Ogallala Aquifer, and the fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, posing devastating consequences to human health, livestock, and agriculture. Interviews are featured with farmers and ranchers along the pipeline’s route and with Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, International Program Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. Narrated by Daryl Hannah. Directed and produced by Leslie Iwerks.

DOWNSTREAM (USA, 2008)

At the heart of the multi-billion dollar Oil Sands industry in Alberta, Canada, a doctor’s career is jeopardized as he fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare cancers downstream from one of the most polluting oil operations in the world.

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.