Thousands of people are descending on Washington, DC this morning for a big demonstration against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The protest, the first demonstration at the White House since Obama’s re-election, should send a clear message to the administration and Big Oil: opposition to Keystone XL isn’t going away, it’s only getting stronger.
Photo credit: Josh Lopez
It’s been over a year since 15,000 people surrounded the White House to push President Obama to live up to his promises to “end the tyranny of oil” and help “heal the planet.” Three days after that demonstration, the administration announced that they would be delaying a permit for the northern leg of the pipeline due to environmental concerns. A few months later, under immense pressure from the fossil fuel industry, President Obama made a symbolic concession to Big Oil, ordering government agencies to expedite the southern leg of Keystone XL.
But now, the southern leg is encountering direct opposition from landowners and activists from around the country who have joined the Tar Sands Blockade, an ongoing encampment and series of actions in Texas. And opposition to the northern leg is as a firm as ever. They’re united by a common concern for their air, water, land, and the climate we all share. “All those concerns still exist,” BOLD Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb recently told the Associated Press.
Before today’s demonstration at the White House, around 2,000 people will pack into the Warner Theater for a Do The Math tour event with Bill McKibben. The 21-city tour, which began on November 7 in Seattle, has sold out every venue it’s visited, rally thousands of people each night to join a new movement to take on the fossil fuel industry. Along with keeping up the fight against Keystone XL and other dirty energy projects, 350.org is using the tour to kick off a new fossil fuel divestment movement modeled on the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s. Over 50 campuses have already joined the effort, with dozens more expected to sign up before the end of the fall semester. The campaign scored an early victory two weeks ago when Unity College in Maine announced that it would be divesting its endowment from fossil fuels. Days later, the Mayor of Seattle committed to investigating how his city could also divest.
For those of us who have been on the tour, and are coming into DC today to protest at the White House, it feels like there is a new surge of momentum lifting up all of these fights. In 2008, many progressives went to sleep after the election. Not this time. Our eyes are open. And while the odds are still long — the fossil fuel industry is spending millions of dollars to try and win approval for Keystone XL and block climate action — we’re keeping hope alive with every protest, every action, and every day we don’t back down. See you at the White House.