Opponents Offer Fierce Resistance to Tar Sands, Enbridge and Keystone XL


picture via Portland Rising Tide

Cross-posted from RAN’s Understory

Don’t fool yourselves: Big Oil and their craven politicians aren’t giving up on tar sands or any other dirty fossil fuels.

The only thing that’s gonna stop the tar sands and these pipelines is us.

In 2011, we were all galvanized by the Tar Sands Action to draw a line in the sands on Keystone XL and the tar sands.  Over 1200 of us sent Obama a message to reject the Keystone pipeline’s permits with a sit-in at the White House. The action subsequently propelled the pipeline into a national issue.

In 2012, we were inspired by the courage of the folks behind Tar Sands Blockade, who put their bodies and freedom on the line with tree blockades and lockdowns inside the Keystone XL pipeline itself. Dozens were arrested in the campaign to stop the southern leg of Keystone XL. Many were brutalized by police, charged with felonies, and faced civil litigation at the hands of Canadian oil giant TransCanada.

Now with an ever-expanding web of pipelines and refinery upgrades to drain the Alberta tar sands, the stakes are only getting higher. The Keystone XL pipeline, the Enbridge pipeline, the Energy East pipeline, and dozens of other related projects are quickly becoming the new fronts against devastating fossil fuel extraction and climate change. They are being met with fierce opposition. Continue reading ‘Opponents Offer Fierce Resistance to Tar Sands, Enbridge and Keystone XL’

#NOKXL: Thousands Across The U.S. Say “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”


Boston, MA. Pic via Adam Greenberg

Cross-Posted from the RAN Understory

We can’t stop. We won’t stop.

Our Indigenous friends and allies in the U.S. and Canada have vowed to not let the “Keystone XL Black Snake” cross their sacred land. In Nebraska, 115 landowners refuse to sign agreements with TransCanada and are willing to engage in civil disobedience. Over 76,000 have pledged to put their bodies on the line in non-violent civil disobedience to stop the pipeline.

Tonight, the fight against Keystone XL got very loud from coast to coast as thousands turned out in the towns, cities and neighborhoods to tell Barack Obama that we won’t be standing for his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

284 events. 49 states plus Washington D.C. and parts of Canada. Over 10,000 turned out. All with on 3 days of mass organizing and outreach.

That is powerful stuff.  Obama and the oil industry can only expect more.

Here’s some images from tonight’s vigils telling Obama a really clear simple message: NO KXL.


Jacksonville, FL


Syracuse, NY


New York City


The Climate Movement Needs to Stop ‘Winning’

Cross posted from Huffington Post – Guest post by Maya Lemon from Nacogdoches, Texas

As a child my favorite chore was hand-pumping water from the thirty-foot well on our family homestead. The pump was shiny black and the water ice-cold. Then my father was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer linked to chemicals used in oil and gas production. It’s been nine years since I drank that water.

I am from an impacted community in East Texas, home to oil and gas industry, on the southern route of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. My involvement in the climate movement is motivated by the reality my community faces.

Nacogdoches, Texas lies along the southern path of KXL and cannot escape tar sands. From Cushing, Oklahoma down to Beaumont, Texas pipe is buried in the ground and scheduled to go online by the end of the year. We are waiting for the shoe to drop, for tar sands oil to flow through the pipe, for the bend of welded metal to respond to the heat and corrosion of bitumen. We are waiting for an event over which we have little control, despite its potentially disastrous impact on our lives.

Within this experience lies the insight I have to offer the climate movement. My experience is limited by the fact I am a young, white woman from an unconditionally supportive family. Incomplete as it is, however, my perspective is the best thing I can offer. And so, I ask that the climate movement stops talking about “winning.”

maya meme

My community will not “win” on climate and this idea delegitimizes the extraction industry impacts we already face. I have lived alongside the reality of petroleum extraction my whole life. A pipeline runs down our driveway. I have been woken in the middle of the night by fracking fumes that burned my eyes and nose and made me feel sick. The construction of KXL south near my home has ignited new concerns about the health and safety of my family and community. In communities like mine impacts run deep and come from all sides.

I will never “win” on climate. Tanks containing benzene on my family’s property display plastic signs warning against cancer and requiring the use of a respirator. There are three active gas well sites within a two-minute walk from my front door. Scanning the land I am from it is impossible to imagine a scenario where I have not been exposed to the same chemicals that may have caused or contributed to my father’s cancer.

Last fall the direct action campaign Tar Sands Blockade (TSB) brought national attention to my community. Folks in TSB put their lives and livelihoods on the line to stop construction and raise awareness. I am glad they came to stand with my community but this also marked a loss. National climate groups celebrated Obama’s decision to delay the northern segment of KXL, intentionally overlooking that this supposed “win” was paired with an endorsement to fast track the southern arm of KXL, connecting a preexisting tar sands pipeline that ended in Oklahoma to refining communities and shipping ports in Texas. There was no delay for us–pipe was being put in the ground. In search of a “win,” the people of KXL south were written off as a loss.

Like cancer taking over the body, the oil and gas industry is too entangled in the organs of my community for a simple “win-lose” dichotomy. The industry employs us, pays for community festivals, and improves our roads. They also contaminate our water, deny us access to our land, and take away our sense of agency. Extraction industries have impacted our land, bodies, and minds in ways that can’t be erased or won.

Checking a thesaurus suggests further complications of a “winning” framework. Synonyms to “win” include “come in first” and “conquer.” In communities with an intersecting history of oppression “winning” doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate message. Utilizing ideas of “coming in first” and “conquering” among individuals living a legacy of racism, classism, and colonialism seems intrinsically problematic. Environmental Justice leaders ask instead that we “lift up” impacted communities. Will our movement be one that “conquers” or “lifts up?” Continue reading ‘The Climate Movement Needs to Stop ‘Winning’’

“Frack Clark’s House” says Anti-Fracking Activists in British Columbia

This morning, Rising Tide-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories and the Council of Canadians set up a 15-foot fracking rig on Premier Christy Clark’s lawn, announcing that “Because the Premier loves fracking, we figured we would bring it right to her!” says Jacquelyn Fraser, an activist with the group.

“We are just so worried about all the water that is being used and polluted in northeastern B.C. for fracking. We are sure Premier Clark is too and we’re sure she can share some of her own supply so that she can see the boom in the industry she keeps promoting,” says Fraser as ‘construction workers’ set up the rig behind her. “She may not end up with a lot of fresh water at the end, but at least she has some we could use right now.”

The group is referring to the impacts on the environment caused by hydraulic fracturing, a process through which water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the ground to fracture rock and release unconventional natural gas. Fracking is using up exorbitant amounts of water in northeastern B.C. and residents near fracking projects are increasingly concerned about the impacts it has on their water. As tons of freshwater are taken out of the water system, the process itself has been known to fail and contaminate drinking water.

Expansion of fracking has also been silently happening in the province, and groups like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have even noted that provincial legislation is failing to protect all the water on which communities rely.  When the group was asked about why they decided to set up the rig on her property, one activist responded: “Well maybe you should speak to the people of Fort Chip and ask about how they feel about their land being messed up with tar sands,” alluding to the ongoing takeover of Indigenous lands by industry and government. “They have a pattern of not caring at all what people are actually saying,” she continued.

The premier has been championing Liquiefied Natural Gas on a recent North American tour to promote the industry. Soon after Christy Clark was re-elected in the Spring, Keith Shaeffer of The Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin claimed that “This was the single most important election to the energy landscape in all of North America in several years,” and noting that there were no less than ten proposals for Liquified Natural Gas terminals on the Pacific Coast which would be crucial for exporting the fracked gas. Promoting this fracking industry boom is alarming for local residents, such as David Diwell near Dawson Creek, who stated that the quality of his family’s water changed “overnight.”

There are over 23,419 operating fracking wells and another 4,000 which are abandoned in northeastern B.C., the region which is projected to produce about 22% of the continents gas by 2020. Studies from Cornell University have also been showing that fracking can be as dirty as coal, given the life cycle of carbon emissions and pollution. This means that B.C. would be unable to meet any previous greenhouse gas reduction targets if it fails to put a ban on new fracking proposals.

Christy Clark has been strongly encouraging the province’s future in the fossil fuel industry, and will be meeting with Alberta Premier Alison Redford on Tuesday to discuss the infamous Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal. The Northern Gateway Pipeline would follow much of the same route as the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP), a fracking pipeline which is being opposed by Indigenous communities living along the route. Construction of the PTP would blaze a trail for Northern Gateway and other proposed pipelines, essentially making the region an “Energy Corridor.” Industry’s plans of an “Energy Corridor” have been opposed by all the hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and particularly be members of the Unist’ot’en who have built log cabins, traditional pit houses, and permaculture gardens along the route of the pipe.

As Christy Clark continues to promote oil, gas, and even numerous coal mine proposals in northern B.C., it is crucial that organizers on the ground show that there is visible opposition to these projects and that they are calling on industry and politicians respect communities when they say “No” to having these projects on their land.

Boston Tells Obama & Kerry: “Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline”


KXL Pledge action in Boston

This morning, I’m in Boston.

This is one of my favorite U.S. cities, perhaps because Boston is one of the birthplaces of American civil disobedience.

Not far from here, in 1773, a group of colonists dumped ship-loads of English tea into Boston Harbor in resistance to the British government’s unfair taxes on the American colonies.

A few hours from here, Henry David Thoreau penned his essay “Resistance to Civil Government,” where he argued that “individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.

Over the past two centuries, Boston has seen its fair share of people acting out of a sense of their own conscience, from labor to civil rights to wars abroad.

Today, 36 more people honored that fine tradition by staging a sit-in on the front door of the Tip O’Neill federal building in downtown Boston in opposition to Keystone XL. They sent a strong message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry: Reject the pipeline!

Secretary Kerry, who is a long-time environmental advocate, plays a key role in whether the Keystone XL pipeline will be approved or rejected, as the State Department is tasked with determining whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the nation’s best interest. President Obama is expected to make an announcement about the fate of the pipeline within the next few months.

The federal authorities didn’t waste any time trying to intimidate us with federal charges and a $5,000 fine.To their credit, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON BACKED OFF FROM TAKING ACTION. That’s how important this issue is for people who have signed the KXL Pledge of Resistance. That’s how important this issue is for future generations. We’re in a struggle to stem the worst effects of climate change and save communities in Alberta, impacted by tar sands extraction, and communities up and down the pipeline route in Canada and the U.S. Continue reading ‘Boston Tells Obama & Kerry: “Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline”’

The No Keystone XL Movement Needs You!


Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance March to TransCanada’s Houston offices.

Cross-posted from RAN’s Understory

Two weeks, a group of courageous people were arrested in the belly of the beast: TransCanada’s U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas. These were mothers, fathers, grandfathers, great grandmothers, scientists, and teachers who staged a peaceful sit-in with a clear message: No Keystone XL tar sands pipeline!

People from the extraction sites in Alberta to the piney woods of East Texas to the front steps of the White House have battled to stop Keystone XL and scores of other oil infrastructure projects.  Many of them have faced escalated criminal charges, civil litigation from TransCanada and police violence.

At RAN we have a policy never to ask you to take an action, online or offline, that we don’t believe will make a strategic difference and have an impact that is worth your time.

On Monday, we’ll be organizing another Keystone XL Pledge action in John Kerry’s hometown of Boston with our allies CREDO Action and The Other 98%. For months, President Obama and his State Department have weighed their decision on whether this disastrous dirty energy pipeline is in our national interest. Our job must be to show enough opposition to the pipeline to ensure the president stands on the right side of this historical moment.

More than 75,000 people, including many of you, have signed RAN, Other 98% and CREDO’s Pledge of Resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline—pledging to participate in peaceful civil disobedience, to risk arrest if necessary, to stop this dangerous tar sands pipeline.

To be clear, this is a serious request of your time, your passion and, potentially, your liberty. We’re asking now because it’s critical.

These actions are coming together because of months of work by literally hundreds of people. A group of seasoned direct action organizers built a training curriculum and traveled to 25 cities around the country to teach people like you how to plan and lead a safe, strategic sit-in. Hundreds of activists stepped up to attend these rigorous two-day weekend trainings, and then went home to put that training into action.

Now we’re asking: Will you join us? Continue reading ‘The No Keystone XL Movement Needs You!’

Energy East Open House – SansTransCanada and SaveCanada steal the show.

Crossposted from vanwaardenphoto.com

This evening TransCanada held their one and only open house in the vast city of Montreal. The open house was situated in the middle of nowhere in the east industrial area and almost everyone visiting got lost. Surprisingly, for a massive infrastructure project there were few ‘regular’ citizens to be seen. In fact there were more blue shirts in the room all night than ‘regular’ citizens.

But that statement doesn’t tell the whole story. It was clear that the majority of those blue shirts and regular citizens were actually concerned citizens. Save-Canada.com  has been attending these events, dressed in almost exactly the same fatigue as the TransCanada representatives and handing out more information about how this pipeline will impact Canadians and the world.  It seems that the TransCanada people don’t know what to do with them. Throughout the evening Save Canada, and SansTransCanada, their Quebec counterpart, engaged with citizens and even played a little game of ‘pin the spill on the pipeline’.

From my perspective it looks like TransCanada has a long uphill battle ahead. There are a lot of concerned citizens, few actual jobs and they are building an export pipeline. If you are looking for some more information here is one source and click here for more visuals

No, Actually, We Are The Rising Tide….

cant stopCross-posted on Rising Tide North America

Sometimes our idols die hard.

This long time Marvel Comics true believer is finding Joss Whedon’s new TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a deal breaker after decades of love and devotion to Marvel Comics and Whedon’s fantasy world that’s given us Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But now, the other true love of my life, Rising Tide North America, is under attack by the real corporate super villains, Disney and ABC Studios, seeking to co-opt our name and brand for some ratings and commercial air time with Whedon’s new show.

Rising Tide vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Whedon’s new television series, premiering tonight on ABC, depicts a secret NSA/Dept. of Homeland Security style agency confronting a “looming new threat” called “The Rising Tide.” In this spinoff of the popular Avengers movie series, Rising Tide is a shadowy cyber-terror group similar to Anonymous. Their role in the show is to expose super humans, like the Hulk and Thor, and secret government agencies like S.H.I.E.L.D.

In our estimation, exposing governmental secrets and lies is a most worthy pastime and similar to what groups like WikiLeaks and Anonymous have done in real world. Unfortunately, the series plays to our mainstream culture’s fears around anarchists and radicals, and portrays the group as a threat to national security. Some reviews call the group “cyber-terrorists.” This is par for the course in a Hollywood that uses pop culture to turn government agents into heroes and seekers of truth, justice and ecological sanity into evildoers.

Some may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the big problem for Rising Tide North America is that Whedon’s show uses our name and a very similar logo to ours for his villains. In a most humiliating blow, at the end of the first episode, the lead Rising Tider, Skye, actually joins S.H.I.E.L.D. as an asset. So not only are we depicted as terrorists, but one of our own actually switches sides and joins the police state.

We are the REAL Rising Tide

Rising Tide is an all-volunteer international climate justice network challenging the root causes climate change.

Rising Tide originated in 2000 at the sixth United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) meeting at the Hague. It formed as direct action network forming an opposition to the talks were deeply influenced by corporate lobbyists, marginalizing representatives in the Global South and pushing carbon markets as a (false) solution to the climate crisis. Over 300 groups from both the Global South and Global North signed the Rising Tide statement in 2000. Since then Rising Tide network have grown and spread throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and North America.

In North America, we have over 50 active chapters, local contacts and allies in our network. Rising Tide North America formed in 2006 in the heart of Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, when climate and anti-extraction fighters with Mountain Justice and Earth First! decided it was time to make climate change an issue relevant to more than the D.C. Green non-profit industrial complex.

Our goals remain:

  • Bringing non-violent direct action into North American climate movements (something we think we’ve been successful at lately)
  • Work in solidarity with frontline communities directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction and climate change.
  • Challenge the false solutions to climate change. This includes “clean coal,” nuclear power, natural gas, overly-compromised non-profits based in Washington D.C. as well as market based mechanisms like carbon trading.

Currently, our network is waging campaigns from the coalfields of Alaska to Ed Abbey’s redrock wilderness in southern Utah to up and down the Keystone XL Pipeline route to Appalachia’s devastated mountains.

In effect, we are everywhere. And we are the real Rising Tide.

Join us in demanding that Disney stop co-opting our name and logo in their depiction of a shadowy cyber-terror group.

Life at the End of the Line — Drawing the Line on Tar Sands in Houston’s East End

“My son died from cancer. He was only 26,” he said as his eyes quivered and filled with tears.

I struggled to complete the community health survey that brought me to this man’s humble front porch next door to a menacing, industrial car-crushing facility. This summer, as I knocked on dozens of his neighbor’s doors I heard similar heart-breaking stories of illness, asthma, and poverty.

One long-time resident I spoke with summed up the popular sentiment for relocation: “I’m just trying to save up enough money to move my family the hell out of here.”

These are just a few of the voices from the “End of the Line” – those living in the community of Manchester, on Houston’s toxic East End – one of the communities at the terminus of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Today as thousands gather in over 200 actions across the country for a national day of action to “Draw the Line” on Keystone XL and tar sands it seems like an appropriate moment to reflect on these stories and ask: Can our movements better support these communities already bearing the disproportionate burden of tar sands refining and environmental injustice?

The People at Both Ends of the Pipeline

The story of tar sands resistance goes far back beyond Obama, long before 1,253 folks like myself were arrested at the White House for protesting the pipeline, or really even before Keystone XL was anything but an industry pipe dream. Decades ago the struggle began by First Nations leaders in modern-day Canada and their commitment to maintain their ancestral homelands from what they term the “slow industrial genocide” of tar sands extraction that is poisoning their loved ones and turning their boreal paradise into a tortured wasteland.

What do the communities living with the worst impacts at both ends of this pipeline have in common? They are both communities of color.

Valero refinery in the Manchester community on Houston's East End.

Continue reading ‘Life at the End of the Line — Drawing the Line on Tar Sands in Houston’s East End’

Green Scare Lite: When the Feds Come Knocking on the Climate Movement’s Doors

sacredCross-posted from Counterpunch

In 2003, my friends and I organized a forest defense campaign against a financial holding company called Maxxam We called the campaign Dirty South Earth First! (DSEF!). Maxxam were the owners of Pacific Lumber, a California based company that was rapidly clear-cutting Northern California’s redwoods for big profit. Maxxam had also hired private security goons that violently extracted tree-sitters non-violently defending those forests. In response, we aggressively targeted not just Maxxam, but individual executives in both their Houston offices and lavish homes. We quickly got the attention of Houston police, the company’s private security team and the federal government.

Years later, through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (both mine and friends), I found out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had tracked my air travel, watched my home, listed me as an associate of a “criminal organization,” paid at least one fellow Houston activist to inform on us and most likely reported me to the Australian government while I traveled there resulting in my detention and forced removal from that country as a “national security threat.” Others in DSEF! had similar or worse experiences.

I’d never been arrested or charged with any crime in that campaign, yet organizing bold and effective campaigns against wealthy corporations put me on the government’s blacklist.

Carrying forward with that work, over the past seven plus years, I’ve been an active organizer in the climate movement for both grassroots groups and environmental non-profits. I’ve supported fights against mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, coal exports in the Northwest, heavy tar sands refining equipment shipments and pipelines in Idaho and Montana and the Keystone XL Pipeline in my home state of Texas and beyond.

The North American direct action movement against the extraction of oil, coal and natural gas has become a beautiful and powerful thing. Our broad-based grassroots movement has organized bold and effective campaigns against the fossil fuel industry.

So naturally, the government wants to stop it.

There’s been no “Green Scare” of the climate movements because, unfortunately for them, we’re open and transparent about who we are, what we oppose and how we’re doing it.  They can’t label us “terrorists” as we haven’t advocated for or carried out any acts of violence or property destruction. So, instead the federal government has adopted a low level strategy of surveillance, infiltration and harassment, or, as a civil liberties lawyer explained it to me—“Green Scare Lite.” Agents who are knocking on the doors of climate activists have said they want to make sure everyone is playing nice in the sandbox” while gathering information and curtailing first and fourth amendment rights wherever and whenever possible. Continue reading ‘Green Scare Lite: When the Feds Come Knocking on the Climate Movement’s Doors’

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