Chicago–“Say NO to KXL!” was the message of 100 protesters outside the local State Department offices on the bitter cold night of Feb. 3, demanding that President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry extra-dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It was one of 283 actions across the U.S. and Canada organized in three days after the State Department released its fake environmental report on the pipeline–a report crafted by cronies of TransCanada, Keystone’s owner, with the imprimatur of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Nobody at these actions took seriously the report’s fraudulent claim that the pipeline would not increase oil production at Alberta’s tar sands. We were very clear that it was another lie from the fossil fuel industry in their quest for maximum profits, no matter the consequences for humanity and the earth.
It may be another year before the president announces a decision, but already 76,000 people have signed a pledge of resistance to undertake civil disobedience if Keystone XL is approved. Independently, members of Indigenous peoples in North and South Dakota, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon formed an alliance to block its construction with direct action. The Nez Perce of Idaho have used treaty rights to block transport of mining equipment headed for the tar sands through their territory.
Native Americans in the U.S. and First Nations in Canada have also used direct actions, protests, and lawsuits to block transportation of not only the tar sands oil but coal across Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest to export terminals.
Exports of dirty oil and coal from North America are critical in setting the continent’s trajectory toward growing or shrinking greenhouse gas emissions. Lots of people in the movement are talking about Tim Dickinson’s article in the Feb. 13 Rolling Stone (which has become one of the most prominent forums for critical voices on climate change), “How the U.S. Exports Global Warming.”
It shows the contradiction between the administration’s push for renewable energy and its drive to export more and more fossil fuels. Dickinson also points out that “the Clinton regime-in-waiting is even more supportive of the dirty-energy trade than the Obama White House.” Sadly, his prescription is a “credible challenger” to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries. It’s time to admit that the imperatives of capitalism, in global competition and economic crisis, have undermined remedial initiatives by every nation that substantially contributes to climate change–seen most recently in Europe’s backtracking on its commitments on renewable energy even after the collapse of its carbon emission markets.
Everything depends on movement and struggle. That is why, before the protest broke up, we loudly chanted, “We’ll be back!”