Tar Sands Pipelines Shut Down By Activists

In an amazing move, 5 activists managed to completely shut down all the tar sands oil pipelines that cross the border between Canada and the US.

They each shut down one pipeline at the same time: Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Minnesota; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Montana and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Washington State.

It was surprisingly easy to do – all they did was use bolt cutters to break through fences and then they turn the giant valves off. The pipelines – which are now turned back on – send about 2.8 million barrels per day of tar sands crude to the US. All are in jail at the moment.


Act of Climate Resistance, Solidarity

They did it as an act of climate resistance and to show solidarity with Native Americans who have been peacefully protesting the Dakota Access pipeline for months. Many have been arrested and strong-armed by police.

Over the weekend, a federal appeals court lifted an injunction allowing construction of the Dakota Access pipeline to move forward on both sides of the Missouri River. Crossing the river remains blocked by the Justice Department.

The activists point to the Paris Climate Agreement where “192 nations have agreed that average global temperature should not increase 1.5C° to avert a climate change cataclysm. This depends on a total ban on new fossil fuel extractions and an immediate end to oil sands and coal use. In the absence of any political leadership or legal mechanisms for accomplishing this, we feel duty bound to halt the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels by personal direct action.”

One of the activists, Emily Johnston, from Seattle says: “For years we’ve tried legal, incremental, reasonable methods, and they haven’t been enough; without a radical shift in our relationship to Earth, all that we love will disappear. My fear of that possibility is far greater than my fear of jail. My love for the beauties of this world is far greater than my love of an easy life.”

Another activist, Annette Klapstein, from Bainbridge Island, Washington says: “Like mothers everywhere, I act from a deep love that extends to all children and young people, and all living beings on this planet. I have signed hundreds of petitions, testified at dozens of hearings, met with most of my political representatives at every level, to very little avail. I have come to believe that our current economic and political system is a death sentence to life on earth, and that I must do everything in my power to replace these systems with cooperative, just, equitable and love-centered ways of living together. This is my act of love.”

The five activists are from the group, Climate Direct Action, and have the support of Climate Disobedience Action Fund, which has set up a legal fund for their defense. You can get updates at their Facebook Page.

As for the Dakota Access pipeline, hundreds of native american tribes have passed resolutions supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and so have municipalities, such as Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Minneapolis. 19 Congressional Democrats are urging President Obama to put a halt to the pipeline until there is a full environmental review.

As is true for so many pipeline disasters we’ve seen in the past few years, the company building Dakota Access – Energy Transfer Partners – has  had 29 pipeline safety incidents since 2006, reports the Center for Biological Diversity.

Native Tribes Sign Treaty

In September, 50 tribes in Canada and the northern US signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, promising to work together to fight proposed cross-country tar sands pipelines, tanker and rail projects.

“What this treaty means is that from Quebec, we will work with allies in British Columbia to make sure the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass and we will also work with our tribal allies in Minnesota as they take on Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East,” says Serge Simon, Grand Chief of the Kanesatake tribe.

In addition to the 2.5 million miles of existing pipelines in the US, at least 14 more are planned traversing 24 states to carry oil and fracked gas.  All are subjected to protests.

All this is part of the Keep It In the Ground movement, which has been peacefully protesting federal fossil fuel auctions across the country and delived a petition with 1 million signatures to President Obama to stop fossil fuel lease sales on public lands and oceans.

“We are standing against the fossil fuels industry in saying that whether they like it or not, their short term profits are less important than the planet we are going to leave to future generations,” says Bernie Sanders, who introduced legislation in the Senate.

Check out the Shut It Down website:


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