A major two-week action involving daily sit-ins at the White House against the granting of a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline began Saturday. Just over seventy people were arrested. The action continues today, as over thirty plan to engage in civil disobedience at the White House again.The Keystone XL pipeline, transporting petroleum, would flow from Alberta, Canada to ports in the southern US. The environmental impacts of this project would be astronomical. There is a plethora of information available about the tar sands fields in Alberta and about the high degree of processing that must occur before bitumen, a semi-solid state of petroleum, can be made into usable petroleum. This is the dirtiest petroleum around that requires the highest energy input in order to create petroleum. It's also destroying indigenous communities in Canada. An excellent documentary detailing the fatal health impacts on an indigenous community near the Tar Sands sites is available from Al Jazeera English in two parts, here and here (highly recommended).
The possible construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a prime example of something that would be a huge injustice that would threaten justice everywhere. The TransCanada pipeline will wind its way from Alberta to Texas through Nebraska and ruin the livelihoods of farmers while at the same time polluting the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska. It would put the Missouri, Yellowstone, Cheyenne and Niobrara Rivers at risk of spills.So what are people asking in their civil disobedience? They're asking Obama and the State Department to say no to this dirty tar sands oil. The Keystone XL pipeline would solidify our dependence on oil for many more decades, while greatly accelerating our approach of catastrophic global climate change.
If built, the Keystone XL Pipeline would lock America into a future of planet-warming energy dependency. Indeed, Dr. Hansen – America’s top climate scientist – has said that full exploitation of Canada’s tar sands would be “game over” for efforts to solve climate change. President Obama alone – without input from Congress – has the power to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. He will decide as soon as September whether to honor his campaign pledge to create a clean-energy economy, or to lock us in as a nation that cooks and distills filthy tar sands for much of our energy. Building this pipeline will be an economic and moral setback for clean-energy sources of all types. This is a line in the sand. The tar sands!Follow Common Dreams for near daily press releases on the issue and the ongoing demonstrations in front of the White House.