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


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!’

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.

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’

Sixty People Risk Arrest in Washington D.C. To Tell Barack Obama and John Kerry “NOKXL!”


NO KXL March to the State Dept.

Reposted from RAN’s Understory

My favorite part of the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance is the trainings.

Before each action, we take a portion of the day before to prepare pledge signers for possible physical and legal repercussions from placing themselves into an act of peaceful and dignified civil disobedience. In those trainings we create a space where the participants get to know one another as well as the organizers. The people taking part in the Pledge aren’t from typical environmentalist circles that I often find myself in, they are more like, well, my mom. Mostly an older crowd, many of them volunteered or worked for Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Many of them are concerned about the direction of the country and the environment. Now they are finding themselves deeply disappointed in the direction the President’s environmental and climate policies have taken.

This morning, over 60 of those folks risked arrest at the State Department’s headquarters to send a clear message to Barack Obama and John Kerry to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, which would flow hundreds of thousands of barrels of dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, endangering ecosystems, communities and the climate. In yesterday’s training, we discovered that we had people with us from as far away as Florida, New Jersey and upstate New York.

After our June action in Chicago, New Jersey resident and Super Storm Sandy survivor Claire Pula decided to get involved with the KXL Pledge and travel to D.C. for today’s action. This morning, while sitting-in at the State Dept., Pula told The Hill: “I was of course anxious about the whole idea of risking arrest. But as soon as I knew that things had already been happening, I wanted to find one close enough to home that I could get to and be able to do that risk myself. And it’s nerve wracking, but it’s important”

We were also joined by at least three veterans of the Vietnam War. During the training, one of them told me he’d joined Vietnam Vets Against The War once he got home. In 1971, he and John Kerry, along with many other veterans opposing the war in Vietnam, returned their medals and ribbons at the steps of Congress during a protest. He said he felt a certain fellowship with Kerry over that event and was calling on Kerry directly to come out in opposition of the Keystone XL pipeline. Kerry, as Secretary of State, holds a great deal of decision-making power over the pipeline.

Another arrest-risker, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, told the Huffington Post: “I have five grandchildren… I would love them to grow up in a world that’s as healthy, as beautiful, as decent, as abundant as the one I grew up in.” Continue reading ‘Sixty People Risk Arrest in Washington D.C. To Tell Barack Obama and John Kerry “NOKXL!”’

Megaloads’ Blockades Escalate On Indigenous Land Along Idaho’s Highway 12

nez perce

Nez Perce Blockading Tar Sands Heavy Haul on Idaho’s Highway 12

“We are tired of being pushed”
–Silas Whitman, Nez Perce Chairman

In the early 1980’s Indigenous activists partnered with grassroots direct action allies in Earth First! to challenge rampant wilderness destruction by logging and mining companies in the American West. Over the years, this informal alliance has taken many forms, but often, more than not, has been a literal expression of solidarity between the two groups. Now as North American direct action campaigns against tar sands and other fossil fuel extraction escalates, that alliance is becoming visible again.

This week, shipping company Omega Morgan defied a federal court order to transport heavy tar sands refining equipment from Lewiston, ID to Alberta up Idaho’s scenic Highway 12, across National Forests and through Nez Perce tribal land. The U.S. Fores Service has failed to act and the informal networks of environmentalists have joined the Nez Perce in using civil disobedience to enforce the court order.

On the eve of the action, the Nez Perce executive committee said: “actions beyond mere words may be necessary, in order to have the Nez Perce Tribe’s voice heard.  If Omega Morgan proceeds with defying the Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe will not interfere with its members’ constitutional rights to lawfully assemble in opposition to the immediate threat of the transport of these two megaloads (today).”

The megaload moving the equipment was met three times this week with hundreds of blockaders from the Nez Perce tribe and allies from around the region. These mobile blockades have been led by members of the Nez Perce tribe, along with activists from Idle No More and Wild Idaho Rising Tide. Over 20, including the entire Nez Perce executive committee, have been arrested putting their bodies on the line. At last report, allies were joining the blockades from Spokane, Boise, Missoula and Portland. Continue reading ‘Megaloads’ Blockades Escalate On Indigenous Land Along Idaho’s Highway 12′

Anarchy in the Theater: A Review of the Eco-Thriller “The East”

The_East_2013_film_posterCross-posted from the Earth Island Journal

We will counterattack three corporations for their worldwide terrorism in the next six months.” So declares the eco-anarchist group “The East” near the beginning of Zal Batmanglij’s new film of the same name. With this politically tinged suspense and action film, Batmangilij seeks to break the mold of the usual formulaic summer blockbusters. The director of earlier sci-fi inflected dramas, Batmanglij appears to want to surf the frenzy of Occupy Wall Street and the Tar Sands Blockade that grabbed headlines. The film delves into questions around justice, violence, community, commitment, and ultimately asks the viewer, Which side are you on?

This provocative film is one part espionage thriller, one part love story, and all anarchy. Batmanglij tells the story of undercover corporate spy and ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss (Brit Marling, who also gets a co-writer credit) tasked with infiltrating an eco-anarchist group called “The East.” The collective, fronted by Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) and Izzy (Ellen Page), is wanted for executing covert attacks upon major corporations.

The corporate bad guys have never looked so bad. And the depiction isn’t just caricature: the director drew the film’s corporate misdeeds from real stories of corporate crime. From oil companies spilling billions of gallons of oil into pristine eco-systems, to a pharmaceutical giant putting bad meds on the market, to a chemical company poisoning local watersheds and children, we’re given the sense that The East’s actions are justified. A private security honcho named Sharon (Patricia Clarkson) is especially vile. When, early in her undercover operation, Sarah discovers The East will be poisoning a Big Pharma cocktail party with dirty meds, Sharon orders her to let them proceed – since the party goers aren’t her clients, she doesn’t care what happens to them.

But, for me at least, the verisimilitude breaks down when it comes to its depictions of the eco-warriors at the heart of the film. As a self-identified anarchist and activist, I just wasn’t buying it. Not that Batmanglij and Marling didn’t try to get it right. The writers spent the summer of 2009 traveling through the North American anarchist scene researching the film. To their credit, they depict the anarchist activists as smart, strategic operators – not as dumb, naïve kids duped into some plot, the usual script for the mainstream media. While two months is enough to get a tone and feel for the North American anarchist subculture, it’s not enough to really understand the real meaning of its politics or its inhabitants. In the end, The East’sportrait of anarchists falls flat, seeping some of the movie’s punch. Continue reading ‘Anarchy in the Theater: A Review of the Eco-Thriller “The East”’

Over 100 Youth March, 26 Arrested Escalating Fight Against Keystone XL Pipeline

massThings are getting rowdy and the street heat is turning up. This morning, TransCanada got a wake up call from Boston area students and climate activists. Over 100 marched on the company’s Westborough, MA offices with 26 being arrested for sitting in. The same group organized a lock down in TransCanada’s office back in January.

Here’s their press release:

Over 100 Youth Risk Arrest, Escalating Fight Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Students hold “Funeral for Our Future” in act of civil disobedience at TransCanada Corporation’s Westborough, MA Office

Westborough, MA – On Monday morning, over 100 students and community members marched into TransCanada’s Westborough office and held a funeral mourning the loss of their future at the hands of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport the tar sands that climate scientists say will lock us into irreversible global warming. More than 25 protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the office in an act of civil disobedience.

Carrying a coffin emblazoned with the words “Our Future,” the protesters held flowers and sang an elegy as they marched in procession. Massachusetts Methodist clergy members and a group of mothers holding photographs of their children joined the youth in protest.

The action marked a sharp escalation of the protests in New England against the Keystone XL pipeline. In January, eight students locked and glued themselves at the same TransCanada office. Nationwide, the pipeline has already prompted civil disobedience outside the White House, direct blockades of construction, and the largest climate rally in US history. Today’s action kicks off a week of solidarity actions being called for by our allies at the Tar Sands Blockade. During the week of March 16th-24th protestors from across the country will target the offices of TransCanada and its investors. Continue reading ‘Over 100 Youth March, 26 Arrested Escalating Fight Against Keystone XL Pipeline’


Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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