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Nov 092012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

As they did in 2011, environmentalists will again gather at the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada across the U.S. to refineries in Houston.

A Tar Sands Blockade poster in Texas refers to the oil "peak" after which fossil fuels become harder and more expensive to access.

One segment of the pipeline, from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas coast already has approval and is under construction in East Texas, where protesters have been staging successive actions against it, slowing progress.

The full pipeline, which would cross the international border at Alberta and Montana, has not been permitted, pending additional environmental review. It needs the approval of the U.S. State Department to move forward. Officials held up final permitting in November 2011 in deference to Nebraska where environmentalists, ranchers and the governor asked for time to re-route the pipeline around a delicate region known as the Sand Hills. A new route has been delineated.

Protesters object to the pipeline because tar sands operations have an outsized environmental impact. Unlike regular crude oil, tar sands oil is derived from tarry deposits in sandy rock. Access often requires strip-mining operations that destroy forests. The extraction needs large quantities of water to sluice the oil from the rock, rendering the water toxic and blighting the landscape with waste ponds. Next, the heavy oil must be heated to make it fluid enough to travel by pipeline, requiring the addition of chemicals that make the fluid toxic and more dangerous in a spill. The extra energy inputs also render the whole process energy intensive to the point where it’s  barely efficient.

For all these reasons, and the fact that continuing fossil fuel reliance contributes to carbon dioxide emissions, environmentalists have targeted the tar sands as a place to draw a line in the sand. At the White House protest last year more than 1,200 people from groups spread across the nation, and including several celebrities, were arrested for civil disobedience.

According to a statement from 350.org, which is leading a coalition of groups, the upcoming protest at the White House will help “show the president he has their support if he denies the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”

The demonstration will follow a 350.org “Do the Math” even at the Warner Theatre, featuring thousands of activists, a 500-foot pipeline and several speakers, including Bill McKibben, a co-founder of 350.org.

Several other groups have signed the letter announcing the protest:

Dear friends—

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as the warmest year in American history draws to a close, as the disastrous drought lingers on in the Midwest, everyone is looking for ways to make a real difference in the fight to slow climate change.  We’d like to ask you to come once more to Washington, to resume the battle to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, mid-afternoon on Nov. 18th.

This summer President Obama took the biggest step of any president to date when he raised fuel efficiency standards — a move that will cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 10% when fully implemented. Many of you worked to make this happen. Thank you. It’s an important step in the right direction. Let’s take a few more.

As you’ll recall, your efforts last year slowed down the decision, giving the State Department more time to consider the impacts of a dangerous export pipeline that will transport one of the world’s dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels. Although they did go ahead with the southern segment, where many of our colleagues are waging a remarkable fight against its construction. But now that the election is over a decision by the President is imminent—the administration has hinted a decision could come in the first quarter of 2013.

Here’s what’s changed since last year: the Arctic has melted disastrously.

Here’s what hasn’t changed: Keystone XL is still a crazy idea, a giant straw into the second biggest pool of carbon. Even if it doesn’t spill, it would add 900,000 barrels of oil worth of carbon each day to the earth’s atmosphere, or as much as the new auto efficiency regulations would save. It would, in other words, cancel out the whole long fight to increase auto mileage. Those tar sands are still the dirtiest energy on the planet.

And more and more people are realizing it. Our brothers and sisters in Canada have effectively blocked the so-called Gateway Pipeline to Canada’s west coast. It won’t be built anytime soon, depriving the administration of their only halfway decent argument—that the oil would just go somewhere else. No, Barack Obama is now even more the man who holds the fate of the tar sands expansion in his hands.

No one needs to get arrested this time—though that may come as the winter wears on. For now we simply need to let the President know we haven’t forgotten, and that our conviction hasn’t cooled. Please be there if you possibly can.

Many thanks,

Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org
Michael Brune, Sierra Club
Naomi Klein, author
James Hansen, climate scientist
Tzeporah Berman, author
Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska
Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School
Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition
Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network
Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center
Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International
Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts
Phil Radford, Greenpeace US
Cherri Foytlin, Bridge the Gulf Project
Tar Sands Blockade