Keystone XL

This post originally appeared on Rainforest Action Network's blog, The Understory.

This Sunday, over one thousand young people will descend on the White House. By the end of the day, hundreds of them, most of them students at more than 200 colleges and universities, will be arrested. There’s something happening here.362

Just days after a U.S. State Department review determined that ERM, an oil industry contractor and dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute, was capable of an unbiased review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, hundreds of youth activists will be risking arrest outside the White House as part of XL Dissent. Their objective is to secure a rejection of the climate-killing Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to hold President Obama accountable for his campaign promise to safeguard climate stability by “end(ing) the tyranny of oil.”

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331 I know that I am preaching to the choir, environmental gladiators fighting for our communities and the planet, to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. But if our message to reject this pipeline is to be effective we need the folks on the sidelines to join us. There is a 90-day National Interest Determination period where President Obama will decide if the pipeline is in the national interest, and Energy Action Coalition is leading the push to raise the people’s voice with The People’s Review.

The President has said time and time again that it is his job to govern and our job to push him. Well gladiators, at this moment in time, we need to push him hard. This decision on Keystone XL will set the tone and direction of the United States energy policies and politics moving forward. Don’t be fooled that this fight is solely about Keystone — it is not. This decision will impact every fight that we are engaged in within the environmental movement along with our allies in other movements.

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Monday night’s Keystone XL protest vigils were nothing short of incredible. At over 280 vigils from coast-to-coast, we saw thousands of people turn out in the cold and snow to show their resolve that this dirty and dangerous pipeline must be rejected.

But our work is not done. As you’ve probably heard, the State Department just released its final environmental review, kicking off a final 90-day stretch for people power to fight back.

Demand President Obama and John Kerry reject Keystone XL — help launch the People’s Review.

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328 On Tuesday, January 28th, over a hundred people paraded a giant pipeline around the Capitol Building to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in advance of the State of the Union. The protest was organized by 350.org, CREDO, Energy Action Coalition, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation and other pipeline opponents.

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323 Shoddy KXL South Pipeline Connects Communities United in Opposition to Tar Sands

The highly anticipated startup of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has not deterred impacted residents from beginning a new chapter in advocating for the safety and integrity of their homes, communities, and natural spaces. Following years of entanglement with multinational pipeline corporation TransCanada and no support from elected officials, residents stretching from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast have been meeting to discuss how the tar sands pipeline has shaped how they relate to their communities and the political geographies of the pipeline.

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299 This past Wednesday, on the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, dozens of activists gathered to push the President to reject the Northern leg of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, stop the southern leg of KXL from becoming operational. They also called for divestment from dangerous fossil fuel sources and more investment in renewable, and clean energy sources.

Organized by the group Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, the day started at the American Petroleum Institute with remarks from Reverend Yearwood of the Hip Hop caucus, who proclaimed that in recognition of MLK, we much become “fossil free at last.”  Activists marched to the White House where an interfaith service was held by various faith leaders and the NAACP, calling for climate action, and was followed by two volunteers who engaged in civil disobedience to urge President Obama to stop the construction of southern leg of the KXL pipeline which is scheduled to begin producing oil on January 22nd.

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Just as the polar bear has been the poster child for climate change, President Obama has been the icon for the fight against Keystone XL. For years now, people opposed to tar sands development have been calling on the President to act with good conscience and reject this pipeline proposal. From blockades to birddogging, activists around the continent have been sending a message to the President: we will not compromise on Keystone XL.

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I’m from Scranton, Pennsylvania, a city under siege by fracking, so last week when I heard President Obama give a full throttled endorsement for natural gas, I winced. And based on the flurry of activity on Facebook and in blog posts, I know I wasn’t the only one alarmed. 

Don’t get me wrong, President Obama’s commitments on climate, Keystone XL and reducing pollution from coal are a big step forward — but we cannot truly address the climate crisis and transition to a clean, just energy future by embracing false solutions. We need a U-turn on fracking, and it needs to start now.

Our pressure pushed President Obama to lead on climate and rethink Keystone XL, and now we must push back on fracking and make it clear that we demand a just transition away from ALL dirty energy to a clean energy economy.

In the coming weeks we’re going to ramp up our organizing to do just that, but for this to be successful we’re going to need a massive movement led effort.

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