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

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Quick Update on Westborough Eight

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The Keystone XL protesters who used chains and glue to bind themselves together in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA office have all been processed. They are, left to right, Ben Thompson, 22, a PhD student studying Mathematics at Boston University, Dorian Williams, 21, an Anthropology major at Brandeis University, Shea Riester, 22, a recent graduate of  Brandeis University and a student of social movements, Devyn Powell, 20, and International Relations and Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Emily Edgerly, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Lisa Purdy, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Brandeis University, Alli Welton, 20, a History of Science major at Harvard University, and Ben Trolio an Environmental Conservation Studies major at the University of New Hampshire.

To understand their reasons for doing this, please see their blog and bios.

Most, if not all, are members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF). (Some have also been active in CASEJ) Around the time of their release SJSF tweeted the following:

“The costs of action are far less than the costs of inaction.” The hope of these youth is to inspire you to fight w/ @350Mass@KXLBlockade

Later followed by:

Wanna hang out with these kids? @350Mass TOMORROW @ First Church Cambridge 11 Garden St Cambridge, MA [ 6 – 7pm potluck, 7 – 9pm meeting ]

This and other actions around the country kicked off an anticipated series of protests against Keystone XL and tarsands that will span the next several days. Now, what will it take for the present leaders to heed the message of the coming generation?

~ Nuevaspora

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

Perspectives From Burlington VT

There were actions addressing environmental concerns all over the country last weekend. Many people from the Boston area headed up to Burlington, Vermont to join in a human oil spill. Michael Levitin at Thruthout and Chloe Maxmin at First Here Then Everywhere have both covered the event, the latter writing from a first hand perspective. A dispatch from one of our own Boston area OB CASEJ organizers will be out in a few days!  ~ Nuevaspora

 

An excerpt from Levitin’s America’s Green Summer: From Vermont to Appalachia to Texas, Citizens Say Not to Dirty Power:

“The 500-person turnout and smartly choreographed “human oil spill” made Vermont the latest staging ground in what is quickly developing as a green summer of activism and resistance across America. Also over the weekend, thousands marched in Washington, DC to oppose the toxic impacts of fracking. On Saturday, activists shut down a mountaintop coal removal site in Lincoln County, West Virginia, drawing increased attention to the human and environmental costs of corporate strip mining in Appalachia.

And that is just the tip of things. Protesters in Texas have initiated a tar sands blockade, vowing to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through their state. Other blockades are getting underway at ports along the West Coast to prevent further construction of coal-shipping facilities. And in August, activists nationwide will descend on Helena, Montana, to engage in an unprecedented coal export action aimed at protesting and blocking coal shipments west to the Pacific and Asian markets from the Powder River Basin, which holds 40 percent of America’s coal supply.”

From Maxmin’s Hey Govenors! Come On Out. We’ve Got Something to Talk About:

“That is what 500 people chanted as we stood outside the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, VT where the New England Governor’s and Eastern Premier’s Conference was taking place. One thing was missing from their agenda: tar sands. There was no plan to talk about Trailbreaker, the massive proposal to pump tar sands oil from Montreal through VT, NH, ME, and down to Casco Bay in South Portland.

As the Maine Sierra Club intern, I helped organized a bus of 50 Mainers to drive from Portland to Burlington early Sunday morning, a 4.5 hour trip. We were Sierra Club members, 350 Maine organizers, concerned citizens, reporters, students, and activists. Everyone was committed and enthusiastic; we all were ready to make our voices heard.”

How We Use Energy…

[Sorry for the delay, our “blog team” has been traveling and having a hard time getting to the internet.]

No doubt about it, solar power is hot. At least it is in Europe, where last year 21.9 gigawatts of photovoltaic paneling was installed, surpassing that of gas and wind plants connections combined.

While the threat of climate change is be alarming, raising awareness is can be fun

On this side of the pond, Obama is pressing congress to extend tax breaks for wind power projects* (now gaining bipartisan support), while on Wednesday memos were leaked that implicated John Droz and others in organizing to “cause subversion in message of [the wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit they are for it”. Their strategy included efforts to create a movement that should “ appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots.” John Droz is best known know for is involvement in the law suit targeting climate researcher Dr. Michael Mann.

On the same day, Dr. James Hanson, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, condemned the use of another new fuel source, this one emitting more greenhouse gas than conventional fuels. Tar Sands can be processed into a very crude oil, but it requires much more work  (it starts out as gritty bitumen rather than a liquid). Dr. Hanson explains in his New York Time’s op-ed:

“But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.”

We are not yet locked into the future Dr. Hanson is describing, however we could be if we don’t change the way we use energy soon (read: less than 5 years). The panning necessary will have to come before that, so timing is crucial. If all this leaves you wondering what options the average citizen has in trying to reduce national emissions, check out Wednesday night’s interview with Gary Rucinski on carbon fee and dividend.