Keystone XL Pipeline permit denied!

Yea! This is huge. This is “earth-sized” big!

Here’s the word from the horse’s mouth (aka The State Department):

Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

Since 2008, the Department has been conducting a transparent, thorough, and rigorous review of TransCanada’s permit application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project. As a result of this process, particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, on November 10, 2011, the Department announced that it could not make a national interest determination regarding the permit application without additional information. Specifically, the Department called for an assessment of alternative pipeline routes that avoided the uniquely sensitive terrain of the Sand Hills in Nebraska. The Department estimated, based on prior projects of similar length and scope, that it could complete the necessary review to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013. In consultations with the State of Nebraska and TransCanada, they agreed with the estimated timeline.

On December 23, 2011, the Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (“the Act”). The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest – which is insufficient for such a determination. The Department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.–State Department Memo Issued 18 January 2012

Breaking News: Western Canada Tar Sand Pipeline Decision Delayed Until Late 2013

Sliammon First Nation member Ta'kaiya Blaney at pipeline hearing (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

While citizens across the United States have been demanding President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians and First Nations folks have been organizing as well.

One question I’ve been asked repeatedly during the Tar Sands organizing is: “If we stop the mining and oil company from building a pipeline from Alberta to Texas, won’t they just a build one from Alberta to the Pacific and ship the oil to China?”

The companies were only too happy to have us buy their logic. But the truth was that our job in the U.S. was to keep the pipeline out of our backyard, and trust that the Canadian movement would do the same. Well, it turns out they have. First Nations folks pledged to block construction with their bodies and widespread public concern has forced the Harper government to review environmental concerns.

Thanks to Brendan DeMelle at DeSmogBlog for his summary:

The Calgary Herald reports that the decision on the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was delayed today until late 2013, a year later than planned. The three-member panel said it “would anticipate releasing the environmental assessment report in the fall of 2013 and its final decision on the project around the end of 2013.”

The joint review panel of Environment Canada and the National Energy Board announced that it will take the additional year to review the widespread public concern over the proposed pipeline, which would cut through First Nations lands in order to shuttle the dirtiest oil on the planet, Alberta tar sands, to Asian export markets.

The delay is not a good sign for Enbridge or KinderMorgan, the two major tar sands pipeline interests hoping to enable the export of Alberta’s climate-killing product overseas. As we learned last week, the oil industry will face a powerful adversary since BC’s First Nations pledged, as a united front, to halt construction and prevent the proposed pipelines from crossing their territory.

Marking their commitment against the pipeline projects, 55 First Nations leaders from across BC signed the Save the Fraser Declaration.  “These First Nations form an unbroken wall of opposition from the U.S. border to the Arctic Ocean,” said the group in a statement.

In response to the firm commitment of First Nations leaders, federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said today that Northern Gateway “shouldn’t be held hostage by aboriginal and environmental groups threatening to create a human “wall” to prevent construction,”according to the National Post article, “Oil industry’s ‘nation-building’ pipeline won’t be stopped by protesters.

“The joint review panel will begin community hearings in Kitimat, B.C., on Jan. 10 to hear from both sides on this contentious issue.  The hearings are sure to attract a lot of attention, and chances are pretty good that much of it will not be favorable to Enbridge or any other proposed tar sands pipeline.

In the wake of the delay and likely demise of the Keystone XL pipeline, all indications point to a difficult, and perhaps insurmountable, challenge ahead for any tar sands pipeline construction. …

Canadians have been very active in supporting the U.S. fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. Now it’s time for us to return the favor. If you can get to any of the community review hearings to support organizers there, please back up your kit bag and go!

Read Brendan’s complete article.

When the White House Calls to Say ‘Okay, You Win’

It didn’t take long – after news broke this afternoon that President Obama had indefinitely kyboshed the climate-killer Keystone XL pipeline – for my phone to ring.

“Hi Rose, I’m calling from White House on behalf of President Obama. We wanted to makes sure you’d seen the President’s executive order postponing the permitting of the pipeline until another environmental impact report can be done, especially focusing on sensitive environmental issues in Nebraska. And we want to thank you for your good work on this issue. We’re just reaching out to let you know that the President hears you and we hope you’ll continue to help us focus on the really critical issues that are facing us right now.”

This afternoon President Obama made an official announcement on the Keystone XL Pipeline that so many of you have been working on these last several months: “Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood. … The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people.”

Wow! What started as an issue among First Nations folks on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, expanded to the American Midwest where churches, farmers, and environmentalists were warning of corporate shenanigans that could poison the Ogallala aquifer (“America’s well”), and has become an international issue with more than 650,000 people signing petitions to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, has now shifted a United States president and his administration away from their earlier stated intentions.

Developing the Canadian tar sands to extract unconventional petroleum has been a disastrous proposal from the very beginning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency points out that Canadian tar sands carbon emissions are “82 percent greater than the average crude refined in the U.S., on a well-to-tank basis.” This pipeline is a climate killer. It is morally right for President Obama to delay this decision until he can deny the permit.

We must remain vigilant to make sure powerful corporate interests don’t merely drive the decision-making process underground. We can also thank the President, the State Department, and especially the Environmental Protection Agency for truly acting on our national interest by giving more deliberate scrutiny to this particular pipeline, tar sands development, and push them continue shifting our nation toward renewable fuels and energy and the “clean jobs” needed to take us forward.
This is a great win. Who are the winners? Poor people who are most critically affected by climate change. Midwest farmers who must protect their land and our water supply. Indigenous communities who lives are threatened by tar sands development.

Who are the biggest “winners”? People of faith. Our earth is a prayer that we offer back in praise of our Creator. Let us dance and celebrate and praise God for God’s guiding presence – and keep a watchful eye those who would lead us down the road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Thank you everyone who is working so hard to stop this pipeline. Take a moment to do a little dance! Because those who don’t dance have run out of steam when the revolution arrives!

[See God’s Politics blog for more on this topic.]

Video: What You Need to Know About Tar Sands

My mom keeps asking me why the national news hasn’t covered my arrest yesterday as part of the Tar Sands Action. I’m sure ABC will get to me soon. In the meantime, the Real News Network has an excellent 7 minute video on Tar Sands mining and the Keystone XL pipeline. If you are looking for something to show to your groups, I suggest using this.

Catch the Vision: Tar Sands Protest Art

Day 1: Sixty-five arrested. Locals were released by 8 p.m. Out-of-towners held in D.C. jail until Monday morning arraignment. The D.C. police seem to want to make an example of the first group in order to discourage the next 13 days of sustained protest.

What we know is that the small but real sacrifice of these few to be held over the weekend will be joined by hundreds of others. In determined peaceableness, we will flood the streets. We will raise the banners. We will fill the jails. Because we can not do otherwise. The cost of inaction is simply too high.

Some highlights from Saturday: Jim Antal, former head of Fellowship of Reconciliation and now president of the Massachussetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was arrested. Kristy Powell, originator of the One Dress Protest, was arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, leader of the protest against the former military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was arrested. Fr. Jim Noonan, Maryknoll Catholic priest, who spent years in Cambodia under Pol Pot serving AIDS patients was arrested.

Movie Actor Mark Ruffalo: ‘Let’s Put Our Values into Action’

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who has been an outspoken activist on fracking in his home state of New York and across the country, is lending his support to the Tar Sands Action in Washington, D.C. this August.

“I’ve seen the kind of damage that out-of-control energy development can do to water and to communities near my own home, where fracking for natural gas is causing widespread pollution,” Mark says in the video.

“All these problems are connected—we need to get off fossil fuel.”

As Mark concludes, the Tar Sands Action is a chance for all of us to “put our values into action.” Hope to see you all in DC this August!

No More Dirty Work! Clean, Green Jobs, not Tar Sands Oil

Dear Beloved Community,

President Barack Obama will decide as early as September whether to light a fuse to the largest carbon bomb in North America. That bomb is the massive tar sands field in Canada’s Alberta province. And the fuse is the 1,700-mile long Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport this dirtiest of petroleum fuels all the way to Texas refineries.

I am writing you now because the Keystone XL Pipeline is a climate and pollution horror beyond description. From August 20th to September 3rd, thousands of Americans – including Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, and NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, and myself – will be at the White House, day after day, demanding Obama reject this tar sands pipeline.

While pro-oil lobbies will undoubtedly tell President Obama that America needs the jobs, there are thousands of Americans who are saying “No more dirty work! Give us clean, green jobs for a healthy planet and healthy families.”

Given the high stakes, many protestors will engage in peaceful civil disobedience, day after day to make their voices heard. Already the attention this event is getting will likely make it the biggest act of civil disobedience in the climate movement’s history.

I’m going to be there, and I hope you will join me – this action, and this issue needs your voice. This action will be going on for two weeks, but you only need to be there for one day – so pick a day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 that you can make it to DC, and let the world know just what you think of the tar sands. Click here to sign up.

If you would like to participate with the “Religious Contingent” affinity group on AUGUST 29, then sign up at the Tar Sands Action site AND ALSO send an email to Tim Kumfer ([email protected]com).

If built, the Keystone XL Pipeline would lock America into a future of planet-warming energy dependency. Indeed, Dr. Hansen – America’s top climate scientist – has said that full exploitation of Canada’s tar sands would be “game over” for efforts to solve climate change.

In 2009, Catholic Bishop Luc Bouchard of Alberta, Canada, wrote in a prophetic pastoral letter warning of the moral danger of this pipeline.

“When there is uncertainty as to whether a development project seriously endangers the environment, a pre-cautionary principle utilizing prudence and caution should guide the decision making process which itself must be administratively transparent. Therefore, massive projects that clearly endanger the environment must be approached in a deliberate, open, and consultative manner.”

President Obama alone – without input from Congress – has the power to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.

He will decide as soon as September whether to honor his campaign pledge to create a clean-energy economy, or to lock us in as a nation that cooks and distills filthy tar sands for much of our energy. Building this pipeline will be an economic and moral setback for clean-energy sources of all types. This is a line in the sand. The tar sands!

Here’s the link to sign up again: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up. Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns – I hope you’ll join us. This is just too important to stay home.

Peace and All Good,
Rose

God’s Creatures Defending God’s Creation … on August 29

I’m getting arrested on Aug. 29 at the White House. It’s time to put my body where my soul is – defending God’s creation.

Religious community scheduled to have largest group to date risk arrest on Monday, August 29, at 11 a.m. in front of White House.

See statements and press releases.

A interreligious contingent has chosen Aug. 29 as our arrest day. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others will train together on Aug. 28 and then worship and risk arrest together on Aug 29.

This is part of a two-week campaign (Aug 20-Sept 3) in which leading environmentalists including Wendell Berry, Naomi Klein, and Bill McKibben will join a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience to block the approval of a dirty oil pipeline that will cross the United States. As one Canadian wrote, “This [pipeline] will make the Great Wall of China look like Tom Sawyer’s picket fence.”

I would love for YOU (yes, YOU!) to join us.

So far, 1,000 people have said they’ll risk arrest. Personally, I’d like to see 1,000 people each day for all 15 days.

Sign up to participate at tarsandsaction.org AND drop me (rbergersol at gmail) or Tim Kumfer (telltheworddc at gmail) a note to join the religious contingent.