No Tar Sands Oil Pipelines. Not in the Northeast. Not Anywhere.

Demonstrators braved freezing temperatures on January 23 to urge legislators in the New England states to “freeze” proposals for shipping tar sands bitumen oil from Alberta, through ExxonMobil pipelines leading to Portland, Maine. A protest demonstration in Portland, Maine, is scheduled for January 26.  This event is expected to be the largest cross-border pipeline action the northeast has ever seen. More on this event at http://www.tarsandsfreene.org/about  Map of pipeline route: http://tinyurl.com/bkcthzx.

Because the project would be a substantial modification of the current pipeline crossing, opponents are demanding that first, a presidential permit be required, per State Department Executive order 11423, as well as a complete environmental impact statement which includes an analysis of the tar sands climate impact. Scientists have found that extracting and burning tar sands will cause catastrophic global warming.

Then President Obama must keep Tar Sands out of New England by refusing to issue this pipeline a new Presidential Permit.

Also this month, groups of citizens mobilized by 350MA are visiting their local Congressional offices with an explicit “ask”:  that the elected official publicly take a stand against projects that would transport tar sands oil in the U.S., particularly the proposed Northeast Tar Sands Pipeline. On Jan.14, for example, ten people met with a staff person in Congressman Markey’s Medford, MA, office to ask that Congressman Markey take all necessary steps to block development of tar sands oil pipelines and make a public statement committing to:  “No tar sands oil pipelines.  Not in the Northeast. Not anywhere.”  The participants emphasized the urgency of taking a stand as ExxonMobil, the majority owner of the Portland-to-Montreal pipeline, is moving forward with plans to reverse flow to accommodate Canadian tar sands oil shipped from Alberta.  The pipeline currently ships conventional crude from Portland to Montreal. If allowed, the company would be able to export tar sands through the east coast.

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Today: Tar Sands Protests Across the East Coast 1/21/13

This Martin Luther King Day, our friends at 350 MA have reminded us that actions are planned along the US and Canadian costs protesting expanded distribution of tar sands crude. The bitumen derived fuel source has been widely criticized, as it results in higher green house gas emissions than conventional oil. Extraction from the Athabasca tar sands have received particular scrutiny, due to the impacts that the extraction process has had on indigenous communities in the area.

Export to the west is blocked by legal disputes. Export to the south has been somewhat hampered by legal disputes and protests (primarily in texas). Export to the North is blocked by the Arctic. Todays protests are focused on export to the East.  For a more in depth synopsis, see Susan Redlich’s post: On the Front Lines of  Tar Sands Resistance.

Also, check out the Occupy New England 3rd Regional Convergence in Portland Maine on January 26th. Working with 350 New England this gathering will have a strong focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels including the expansion of tar sands and natural gas derived from fracking (especially the Algonquin Pipeline).

Today’s schedule (via Vanessa Rule):

SOLIDARITY ACTIONS  — to sign up for a MA action.


United States
  MASSACHUSETTS

1/23/2013

Amherst — ExxonMobil Station, No Tar Sands Picket, 399 Northampton Street 12:30 – 1:30pm, Contact: John Berkowitz, johnpberk@gmail.com.

Amherst – Human Pipeline demonstration, Amherst Common, 3pm Contact: Sarai Zelada and Lundy Bancroft at srzelada9@gmail.com

Billerica – ExxonMobil Station, 441 Boston Rd 3-6pm Contact: Debbie Bernstein at djbernstein2@gmail.com

Boston – Mass Canvass and Human Pipeline across Copley Square Copley Square, MA 1/23/2013 4; 5:30 Dorian Williams 773-289-2240 dorianswilliams@gmail.com

Cambridge/Somerville – ExxonMobil Station, 816 Memorial Drive, 3-6pm Contact: Rachel Wyon at r.wyon2010@gmail.com

Concord – ExxonMobil Station, 1089 Concord Turnpike Station, 3-6pm Contacgt: Jas Smith at jasssmith@yahoo.com

Greenfield – ExxonMobil Station, 142 Mohawk Trail, 3-6pm Contact: George Aguiar at geogruven@gmail.com

Mattapan – ExxonMobil Station , 1181 Blue Hill Road, 3-6pm Contact: Sierra Kahn at sierrakahn@hotmail.com

Newton – ExxonMobil Station, 845 Moody Street, 3-6pm Contact: Eric Packer at epacker@fwg.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE/VERMONT

1/23/13

Lancaster, NH – Hands Across the Connecticut River, Lancaster Bridge at Route 2 and the Connecticut River, Noon Contact: Corry Hughes at stoptrailbreaker.nh@gmail.com

MAINE

1/23/13

Bangor – Bangor Tar Sands Free New England Rally and Congressional office visits, 11am – 2 pm Contact: Read Brugger read@350Maine.org

Greater Portland – 1) 11:30 Rally/Protest in South Portland. 2) Possible Congressional Office Visits 3) Attendance @ the City of Portland Council Hearing @ 7 pm regarding anti-Tar Sands Resolution 1) notable Tar Sands target – to be identified 2) Portland 3) Portland Contact: Bob Klotz at 350maine@gmail.com

1/25/2013

Rockland – TB Bank Informational Picket, TD Bank, 34 School Street, Noon Contact: Aimee Moffitt-Mercer at aimee@midcoast.com

VERMONT

1/23/13

Burlington – Flashmob: No Pipelines! Wall of Resistance and Solidarity, Church Street and Main Street 12:30- 1:00 CONTACT: Ruby Perry at ruby@350vt.org

1/26/13

Burlington – Line 9 – No Tars Sands Oil across Ontario, Burlington Public Library, 2331 New Street 2pm-5pm Contact: Elysia Petrone at epetrone@lakeheadu.ca

Canada

1/19/2013

Montreal, Quebec – THE TAR SANDS COME TO QUEBEC: A community forum to build resistance and alternatives to tar sands pipelines Concordia University – Hall Building 1455 De Maisonneuve W. 9AM – 6PM Amara Possian a.possian@gmail.com

1/23/2013

Ottawa – Oil Sands-Free Ontario, Parliament Hill 3 pm Contact: Alex Guest at alexcguest@gmail.com

1/26/2013

Toronto – StopLine 9 – Hendon Ave at Yonge St (at Line 9) 1pm

Toronto – No Line 9! block at Rally for Rights and Democracy, Allan Gardens (Jarvis & Carleton) 1 pm – 4 pm by Rising Tide Toronto

Toronto – No tar sands in our communities – United Across Borders Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West 10:30:00 Contact: Sabrina Bowmansbowman@environmentaldefence.ca

8 Youth Activists Oppose Keystone XL; Lock Down In TransCanada Office

Youth Activists Locked Down

8 Youth Activists Locked Down in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA Office

UPDATES:

Check tweets (to the right) and Pheonix for more updates. Also see Protester’s Bios.

Follow #NoKXL on twitter to follow protests across the nation opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (trending as of 7:10 PM).

~ 6:30 PM Just and Stable reports that chains have been removed and protesters are in jail being processed.

4: 30 PM This just in from youth activist Devyn Powell:

            As you read this email, I am locked down in a TransCanada office with seven other youth activists.  We are engaged in a protest against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, because building this pipeline to develop the tar sands will lock us irrevocably into the climate crisis.  The Keystone XL, which runs from Canada to Texas, threatens a stable future by perpetuating our oil addiction. Chaining myself to my seven friends is a last resort after our government, heavily influenced by corporate fossil fuel interests, has proved unable to take action against this deadly project.  
 
The fossil fuel industry is knowingly sacrificing our future for its profits. I have decided that I need to fight the injustice, irresponsibility, and immorality of their actions by using all the nonviolent means of protest available to me. TransCanada’s intent to build the pipeline will contribute to drought, flooding and starvation through future Hurricane Sandys, crop failures, and more climate disasters. We are not going to passively let this happen.
 
I’m sending this email to ask for your help. First, please share the image below on any and all social media channels you use in order to raise awareness about TransCanada’s threat to our future. Second, if you are able, we would greatly appreciate any financial assistance you can contribute to cover our jail fees, gear costs, and future actions.  Go to THIS WEBSITE to donate.
 
The next few months will be crucial in halting this toxic pipeline. As Obama considers approving Keystone XL, we all need to put our voices and bodies in TransCanada’s path in whatever ways we are able.  Today’s action marks the beginning of what we hope will be the next chapter in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. If you would like to learn more and get involved, go to:http://www.january7th.wordpress.com.
 
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate your help very much, and I hope we can continue working together to stop the climate crisis.

Local Climate Activist Arrested In Texas KXL Protest

We have just received word that Murtaza Nek, MIT graduate and active participant in 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future was arrested in a protest against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Readers may recognize him as the young man who has voiced the importance of climate justice at several Occupy Boston events.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL is presently under construction with the intent to bring tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to Huston ports. Last year, Dr. James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, head of NASSA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor at Columbia University explained the risk in a New York Times Op Ed:

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

The update on Murtaza comes from climate and social justice advocate Dorian Williams, who writes:

Dear fellow proponents of climate justice,

Many of you may know Murtaza Nek as he has been an active participant of 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Recently he took a trip down to Texas to contribute to the Tar Sands Blockade’s fight against the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
As of 11:50am on January 3rd, Murtaza was arrested in Texas while trying to provide direct support to his friends partaking in a particularly vulnerable tree sit for the Tar Sands Blockade. 
 
You can learn more and see the footage of the arrest here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/15th-action/
 
For those of who have not had a chance to meet Murtaza, he has been an amazingly strong and dedicated ally in this movement. Having accomplished Climate Summer this past year, where he biked from town-to-town across Massachusetts supporting climate action and discussion, Murtaza brought back his organizing and bike power here. Every week, Murtaza would bike from Worcester to Cambridge and back to participate in SJSF and 350MA meetings, helping organize and participate in actions targeting fossil fuels like tar sands and natural gas.
 
Now he needs our commitment and support in return. Please spread the word and consider donating to the legal fund that would enable his release: https://www.wepay.com/donations/tsbdonate.
 
In Peace and Solidarity,
Dorian

Murtaza Nek is one of several protesters who have recently been arrested in protests against Keystone XL’s southern leg. For more information on the tar sands, check out the following links:

Hansen’s TED talk

Photographer Garth Lenz on Alberta Tar Sands: The True Cost Of Oil

~ Nuevaspora

On the Front Lines of Tar Sands Resistance

 

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Photo Caption: Dozens of protesters opposed to the Keystone XL oil pipeline held a rally on Nov.5, 2012 at the Washington, D.C., office of a firm lobbying on behalf of TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline. Four protesters were arrested after staging a sit-in and refusing to leave. 

One of the first decisions for the elected President in new term will be dealing with the Keystone XL pipeline project.  Recently I listened to a conference call interview* with 3 activists from Alberta, Nebraska, and Texas about current strategies in the bigger picture of long-term opposition to tar sands pipeline proposals in different parts of the U.S. and Canada.  Those interviewed are leaders on the front lines of resistance: Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign (www.ienearth.org), Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska (www.boldnebraska.org), and Ethan Nuss of the Texas Tar Sands Blockade (@KXLBlockade). 

 All three activists echoed the sentiment that groups throughout North America can learn from each other’s experiences in resisting expansion of tar sands mining and transport.  All urged that the groups keep communicating with each other and support each other’s work.

 I’ve arranged my notes from the call in the form of questions.

 What’s happening with the southern KXL blockade in Texas?  Ethan Nuss said the human blockade continues. For over a month protesters have blockaded pipeline construction in E.Texas by sitting in trees.  They have no intentions of coming down until the pipeline is stopped.   The protesters are using a variety of direct actions to stop construction.  Each action has the opportunity to tell a story and bring to light the abuses on local communities.   He explained that Texas and Oklahoma landowners have united in civil disobedience (CD) to stop TransCanada’s KXL pipeline.  They didn’t come to this lightly and would much rather use legal tactics, but people feel they have no options left, after 4 years of petitions, lobbies, and political organizing.  Multi-national corporate bullies have not respected them. Land was taken by fraudulent means, with lies from company representatives. The CD participants were met with alarming responses, such as torture tactics which violated their right to assembly.  Local public police were hired by TransCanada to refuse access of food and water.  Fifty people went past the police line to deliver food and supplies.  More than twenty were arrested;  about 100 people attended a support rally.  The press is giving coverage. 

 What is the Texas KXL Blockade Strategy?  Ethan sees the blockade action in the proud American tradition of CD.  All major movements have arrived at point where existing legal lines do not permit change.  Extra-legal actions and CD are necessary.  They want to open legal space for the landowners to question how the company in Texas is operating and behaving across the country as well. They see their work in Texas being pertinent to other areas where pipeline resistance is underway.

 What’s happening with the Northern Gateway project in Canada?  Clayton Thomas-Muller answered that the status of the Northern Gateway pipeline is all a shell game.  The politics are grounded in the knowledge of infrastructure intervention.  One approach is mass direct action (3000 signed on for direct action to Defend the Coast in British Columbia in October).  The outcome looks good—businesses, unions and the government Council are all standing in opposition.  TransCanada says it is more economic to use Gateway and bring down the price of gas (false!).  Gateway faces many years of legal challenges (e.g., the lack of consultation with indigenous communities, treaty infringements).  Another issue is a potential takeover of areas of tar sands by a Chinese firm’s free trade bilateral agreement between Canada and China, and the right of China to contest land-locking their mineral rights.

 What is happening with Trailbreaker line 9, the pipeline proposed for reversal of flow to allow tar sands crude to be transported to Portland, Maine?    A number of native groups in Ontario and Quebec have been fighting the erosion of requirements for a full environmental impact assessment.

 How are First Nation tribes involved with resistance?  Clayton explained that many tribes are affected by the various pipeline proposals and developments. The Indigenous Environmental Network organizes for grassroots intervention against the pipeline and works on baseline education for communities in front-line extraction areas.  The campaign targets the Northern Gateway and Trailbreaker, as well as the McKenzie Valley Gas project (to supply gas for Tar Sands extraction).  IEN sends an anti- KXL campaigner to tribal councils and gets resolutions opposing the pipeline across their lands.  They have convened gatherings;  one led to the Mother Earth Accord (MEA), a political declaration opposing the KXL with particular concerns by indigenous people (treaty rights violations, health and safety, publicly-owned infrastructure such as water utilities supplying Lakota nation and non-indigenous communities, the Ogallala aquifer).  MEA is significant because it has over 60 pages of endorsements, including political parties, NGO’s, tribal groups.  The MEA occasioned the only direct exchange with Obama.  During the White House Tribal Summit, Rosebud Sioux successfully handed the MEA directly to President at private dinner.  Their corporate campaign targets include banks, e.g., Royal Bank of Scotland, etc. 

 What about tribal actions in the U.S.?  In the Dakotas, a lot of groups both indigenous and non-indigenous are meeting in upcoming months to identify next steps forward on the northern leg of KXL and approval points.  Strategies involve evoking sovereignty over sacred sites, direct legal intervention, CD, and working with “cowboy-Indian alliances” that have developed over the years.  In addition to pipeline concerns, the impact from refinery operations and how they impact people have not been that visible up to now.  Racialized communities of color exist amidst the big industrial refining operations.  A lot of environmental racism exists in the Gulf coast around the refineries.  Those voices need to be heard too, from Houston to Port Arthur, Texas.

 What can we do to support your work?  Clayton urged using social media to follow campaigns on twitter and facebook.  He suggested sending opinion pieces to conventional media to highlight IENearth work:  http://www.IENearth.org.

 What’s happening in Nebraska with KXL?  Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska reported on lessons learned from organizing.  The advocacy group started to have a voice to work on environmental issues with a progressive perspective in 2010.  Soon thereafter the Keystone XL issue came up.  They decided to first organize and establish a legal structure, with people farmers and ranchers in communities where the pipeline will cross.  The lesson learned from the first Keystone battle was to build an organization to take on the company. This time around Bold Nebraska is organizing landowners to tell TransCanada to talk to their legal team.  New Energy Voters.Org emerged to give people a way to elect representatives that would have new energy future policy as well as Keystone concerns. 

 What can individuals do?  One of the conference call listeners said “Our town in Connecticut purchases TransCanada electricity through a hydro project in Quebec.”  Jane Kleeb urged citizens to ask each town/city government which company supplies electricity, and how much it is paying for energy from TransCanada.  Ask a national group to find alternative sources of energy.  Speak directly to city council to ask if aware of TC’s practices and what are alternative sources of energy that people can do.  TC is not a good neighbor.

 –Submitted by Susan Redlich, Volunteer with 350MA

*The Climate Reality Check Network sponsored the call. It was recorded and facilitated by Public Citizen’s Energy Program  (www.citizen.org)   Blog: www.energyvox.org