Washington DC is gearing up for the largest mobilisation of civil disobedience in the history of the US climate movement. Between August 20th and September 3rd, two weeks of direct action are taking place, to stop the development of a tar sands pipeline which will increase the flow of filthy bitumen to the US.
The 1,700 mile-long Keystone XL pipeline, if built, will transport oil from northern Alberta all the way down to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline is facing opposition from a variety of fronts, including farmers and landowners along the route whose livelihoods have been threatened by eminent domain (compulsory purchase). The proposed route will also cross the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world, the source of drinking water for two million people. Given the recent record of spills from pipelines, there is serious concern that a rupture near this region would have devastating ramifications for the local environment and economy.
If not stopped, Keystone XL will open up the market for tar sands, encouraging further expansion of infrastructure and export to Europe and other countries. But without the pipeline, Alberta could become ‘land-locked in bitumen’, and be forced to slow its rates of extraction. So from a tar sands perspective, stopping the pipeline is a key opportunity to stop the flow of oil back at the source.
Since it was proposed in 2008, Keystone XL has faced a raft of opposition and countless delays. The decision now lies with Obama, in what may be a ‘defining moment’ for the administration. A group of prominent scientists, activists, writers and public figures have come together to call on Americans to take action to stop the pipeline:
“From August 20th – September 3rd we are planning a peaceful protest in Washington DC to defuse the largest carbon bomb in North America. With people power and time-tested tactics of civil disobedience, join thousands of people from across the continent in a wave of sustained sit-ins. Together we’ll amplify our voices and escalate the movement and stop the Keystone XL pipeline to the Canadian tar sands.”
While we can’t make it to Washington we stand fully behind the 2000+ people who have signed up to take part in this fortnight of sit-ins at the White House, risking arrest. This is particularly brave in the wake of the abhorrent 2-year prison sentence recently handed out to Tim DeChristopher for disrupting an oil and gas industry auction. Solidarity actions are taking place around the world.
If you are planning any solidarity actions please let us know. We will be keeping you updated with news from Washington and elsewhere.
UPDATE: Civil Disobedience also planned in Ottawa!
“On September 26th we need you to come to Ottawa to join a historic action to oppose the tar sands. In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper governmentthat we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he’s taking this country. Be a part of turning Canada away from the toxic tar sands industry. Help forge the future we all want to live in.”
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