50 More Americans Arrested At White House on Day 2 of Sit-in Over Oil Pipeline, reads today's press release from Washington DC, where thousands are converging to protest the Keystone pipeline. It would carry filthy tar sands oil from Canada down the spine of the US until it reaches oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
162 people have been arrested, among them are Bill McKibbon and other leaders of the sit-in. Bill writes from Central Cell Block: "We don't need your sympathy, we need more company."
Yes, the 2-week Tar Sands Action is underway where people are being arrested for standing at the White House fence. The protest continues through Labor Day, when the baton is handed to the Canadians for their own mass civil disobedience during September.
Is this the breakthrough moment that will finally spur action on climate change? It's the biggest green civil disobedience campaign in a generation, but it's more than that. It's also about no longer allowing corporations to make the most important decisions our planet faces.
Fran Ludwig, a junior high school biology teacher says, "I'm going to Washington and risking arrest because, in spite of the efforts of concerned individuals and communities to live in a more sustainable way, government policy is the only way to achieve the large-scale change we need to avert the worst outcome of rampant climate change. The approval of the Keystone XL is exclusively up to President Obama. Enough! We need to take a stand against fossil fuels now!!"
This is the last chance to persuade President Obama to stop the planned 1,700-mile pipeline. Although EPA's analysis of the pipeline is "barely adequate", the State Department's final environmental analysis - due by the end of the month may not be. Sec't Hillary Clinton has indicated she's inclined to approve it. Obama will then have 90 days to decide whether to go ahead with the project.
We've detailed the many problems with getting oil from tar sands:
If burned, it would add an estimated 200 ppm of CO2 to the atomosphere, making a return to 350 ppm impossible. James Hansen, the world's leading climatologist says it will be "essentially game over" for our planet's climate.
Of course, the American Petroleum Institute counters all this by pushing Americans hot button: it would create 20,000 jobs in the two years it would take to build it.
While many Americans believe we get most of our oil from the Mideast, in fact our biggest suppliers are Canada and Mexico. An existing Keystone pipeline from Canada delivers 591,000 barrels a day to Oklahoma and Illinois refineries. The new pipeline would double that to 1.3 million barrels a day and deliver it all the way down to the Gulf Coast.
Protesters are dressed for a business meeting and are wearing the Obama 2008 button: "We very much still want to believe in the promise of the young Senator who told us that with his election the "rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal." We don't understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure the government for change. We'll do what we can," says Bill McKibbon.
"Winning this battle won't save the climate, but losing it will mean the chances of runaway climate change go way up - that we'll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we've seen this year," he says. And we're fighting for the political future too - for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection."
Canadian Brian Horejsi says: "With the stroke of that pen the gates will open to the daily flow of the most costly and toxic oil on earth from below the no longer quiet boreal forests of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. He will make that decision on the back of pressure from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, personal pressure from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and under intense pressure from a coalition of politicians whose election campaigns have benefited from millions of dollars contributed by the oil and gas industry.
He will point to the 'clearance' provided by the State Department's final environmental assessment to try to clear away dissent. He will say the impacts will be marginal and that appropriate measures will be taken to prevent leaks and spills. He'll approve it even though it will rip a 50 to 150 foot physical and ecological trough through public and private property and run roughshod over the legal rights of thousands of public and private land owners who object to forced entry on their property."
On the other hand, says Janet Redman in Alternet, "Obama's no dummy. He knows that increasing national energy security means reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. He knows we don't have extra money lying around to clean up spills and foot the bill for health impacts. And he knows that building a clean, renewable energy economy in the United States would create millions of jobs. We'll be there to help Obama say, "Enough!" to stupid stuff."
What you can do:
Sign the petition to President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Participate in the worldwide climate rally on September 24.
Keep up with the protests and sign up here: