Bill McKibben’s Keystone XL Speech at Occupy Wall Street

Today, Tar Sands Action organizer Bill McKibben spoke at Occupy Wall Street in New York City and made the connection between the demonstrations there and the ongoing fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. Below is a video and transcript of the speech. Many thanks to our friends at Treehugger for providing the video. 

Here is the text of Bill’s speech: 

Today in the New York Times there was a story that made it completely clear why we have to be here. They uncovered the fact that the company building that tar sands pipeline was allowed to choose another company to conduct the environmental impact statement, and the company that they chose was a company was a company that did lots and lots of work for them. So, in other words, the whole thing was rigged top to bottom and that’s why the environmental impact statement said that this pipeline would cause no trouble, unlike the scientists who said if we build this pipeline it’s “game over” for the climate. We can’t let this pipeline get built.

On November 6, one year before the election, we’re going to be in DC with a huge circle of people around the White House and they’re going to be carrying signs with quotations from Barack Obama from the 2008 campaign. He said, “It’s time to end the tyranny of oil.” He said, “I will have the most transparent government in history.” We have to go to DC to find out where they have locked that guy up. We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now. So on November 6, I hope we can move, just for a day, Occupy Wall Street down to the White House and get them in the fight against corporate power.

The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way. The sky does not belong to Exxon. They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon. If they do, we’ve got no future and nobody else on this planet has a future.

I spend a lot of time in countries around the world organizing demonstrations and rallies in solidarity. In the last three years at 350.org, we’ve had 15,000 rallies in every country except North Korea. Everywhere around the world, poor people and black people and brown people and Asian people and young people are standing up. Most of those places, don’t produce that much carbon. They need us to act with them and for them, because the problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the Empire lives and we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.

Thank you guys very much.

20 Responses to “Bill McKibben’s Keystone XL Speech at Occupy Wall Street”


  1. 1 Aric Oct 9th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    It is about time itsgettinghotinhere.org covers the wall street protests! LIKE OMG SRSLY THO

  2. 2 skepticatlarge Oct 9th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    “He said, “It’s time to end the tyranny of oil.” He said, “I will have the most transparent government in history.” We have to go to DC to find out where they have locked that guy up. We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now.” Hate to break it to you, but what he actually said was campaign rhetoric. Great talking points to get the people on his side, and then business as usual. Too many expected Obama to be some sort of political savior without ever checking who his CORPORATE FINANCERS were, many of which also funded McCain at the SAME TIME. Wake up people, there is no magic man to help you. The only one to do that are yourselves.

  3. 3 Lawrence MacDonald Oct 9th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    The climate action movement and Occupy Wall Street are part of the same movement to reclaim American democracy. Ya’ll come on down and join us for the circle around the White House! Thanks, Bill, for once again laying it all out so clearly.

  4. 4 VPK Oct 9th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    The real Conservatives will be at the White House this Nov. 6th, the “Consumptions” aka “Republicans” will be making a statement that it is “UnAmerican” because it goes against “freedom” for unrestricted “CORPORATE GREED”, their base support group.
    That you Mr. McKibben and all those that have help support this movement. It is time NOW!

  5. 5 Anna K Oct 10th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    My favourite post on the Occupy Wall St search for clarity:
    http://www.postcarbon.org/blog-post/526204-what-are-your-demands

  6. 6 Jdpauletto Oct 10th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    #OccupyWallstreet movements have reached over 1,0000 cities world wide. Its about time Americans woke up, Revolution underway!

  7. 7 Malarkey Radar Oct 11th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    McKibben is ranting. And while he rants, he misses the point.

    The point is not supply, it’s demand. It’s demand for everything producing CO2, because we live in one world (so I’ll give him a nod for mentioning the other countries during his rant).

    The big demand for CO2 is for power generation and transportation. The big emitters are OECD (steady emission rates at about 10,000 million MT CO2/year) and China (similar emission totals, but growing so as to double in 20 years).

    In comparison, tarsands emissions of 40 million MT/year are a fly speck (even if they’re also set to double in 20 years).

    When I clean my house, it’s nice to clean the fly speck. But I also shouldn’t ignore the huge dump that elephant just plopped down in the middle of the room.

    So let’s get some priorities straight. They need to be:
    - CHINA
    - Demand in the USA (and rest of OECD).

    Address the first and the world will have a chance against global warming. Ignore it and we are literally toast.

    Address the second (less commuting, smaller vehicles) and the oil companies would never have an economic reason to build a pipeline or develop oil sands. And there would be a whole lot more excellent benefits for the Earth as well.

    As for any concerns that this flysoeck contract is rigged; it deserves scrutiny once we clean up that massive dump in the middle of the room. As for concerns for proper operation of North America’s 201st pipeline, OK, let’s hold the operators’ feet to the fire. Meanwhile, Mother Earth and I realize the oil will flow so long as there is a demand for it, and would rather see it flow though pipelines than on rail, Mississippi barges or tanker trucks.

  8. 8 lindalegal Oct 21st, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Bill it is linda spoke abouy the portable bathrooms and permit let me know whats up

  1. 1 Jdpauletto Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 6:08 pm
  2. 2 Bill McKibben At Occupy Wall Street: ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ » Global Activist Network Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 8:28 pm
  3. 3 WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ | PUII - News Blog Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 10:40 pm
  4. 4 WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ | BNewsworld Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 10:58 pm
  5. 5 GoodPorkBadPork.com » Blog Archive » WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 11:06 pm
  6. 6 Bill McKibben Speaks At Occupy Wall Street, Addresses Keystone XL Pipeline (VIDEO) Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 11:06 pm
  7. 7 WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ » Grubbyhub Blog - Get Your Latest Info Here! Trackback on Oct 10th, 2011 at 11:45 pm
  8. 8 Bill McKibben At Occupy Wall Street: ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ | Greediocracy Trackback on Oct 11th, 2011 at 12:30 am
  9. 9 WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ | Trackback on Oct 11th, 2011 at 1:03 am
  10. 10 WATCH: Bill McKibben Says ‘Wall Street Has Been Occupying The Atmosphere’ | Leeds Classifieds Trackback on Oct 11th, 2011 at 2:18 am
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About Jamie


Jamie is the co-coordinator of 350.org, an international global warming campaign. A recent college graduate, he lives in San Francisco, CA. In 2007, he co-organized Step It Up, a campaign that pulled together over 2,000 climate rallies across the United States to push for strong climate action at the federal level. He's also an early member of the youth climate movement, leading one of Energy Action's first campaigns in 2005: Road to Detroit, a nationwide veggie-oil bus tour to promote sustainable transportation. He's traveled to Montreal and Bali to lobby the UN with youth, but he's a strong believer that change happens in the streets not in meetings. Jamie received the Morris K. Udall award in 2007 and has been recognized by the mighty state of Vermont for his work on climate change. You can also find him blogging at Campus Progress' "Pushback," Changents.com, and 350.org.

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