Activists Arrested in Chicago Urging President Obama to Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

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One more time, the tar sands pipeline (scroll) is the “biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” Think Progress and Van Jones both remind us that the project will create only 35 permanent jobs, but will emit 51 coal plants’ worth of carbon. Plus, much of the oil would be exported elsewhere. We’d be way better off investing in clean energy instead of a costly, dirty catastrophe-in-waiting like the tar sands mess.

Despite the fact that in a recent Gallup poll, nearly half in the U.S. say government should do more to protect environment, and that 20 scientists pulled out of the project, and that the Arkansas pipeline rupture foreshadows devastating environmental impact, it looks like the State Dep’t. and the president are leaning toward approving Keystone, even though it would bring the dirtiest oil on earth through America.

Bill McKibben and NASA’s Jim Hansen both warn that it would be “essentially game over for the climate” if this crackpot project gets the go-ahead.

Here's the latest:

Becky Bond and 21 other activists were arrested (and later released) a short time ago in Chicago as they tried to send President Obama a message about the pipeline. This was done as part of CREDO's pledge of resistance actions on Keystone (and they are just getting started).

Photos and an update here. And here is the press release:

Activists Arrested in Chicago Urging President Obama to Reject Keystone XL

CREDO, Rainforest Action Network and Other 98% Pledge More Acts of Civil Disobedience if Obama Administration Recommends Approval of Pipeline

CHICAGO — In protest of the Keystone XL pipeline, 22 activists were arrested today when they staged a sit-in at the State Department in President Obama’s hometown of Chicago. The activists arrested today included former Obama staffers, donors and volunteers who helped elect the president in 2008 and 2012 and want the president to make good on his commitment to fight climate change. The action was organized by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network and the Other 98%.

Many activists at today’s event wore shirts with President Obama’s quote committing to take action on climate change: "If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” While President Obama’s activism arm, Organizing for Action, has called out climate deniers, the president has not committed to any course to actually address climate change, nor has he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, the approval of which would dramatically undermine any climate agenda the president may set.

“I never thought I’d be back in Chicago to risk arrest in order to get President Obama to do the right thing on climate change,” said Elijah Zarlin, formerly a Senior National Email Writer on President Obama’s 2008 campaign. “But the fact is, President Obama hasn’t made good on the commitment he made to his staff and supporters to fight climate change. If the president wants our help to push his agenda forward in the second term,Keystone XL is a make or break moment.”

"As a grandfather and avid supporter of President Obama, I respect his words offered in response to the climate crisis but we are out of time for just words," said Reverend Terrence Gallagher, an Obama donor risking arrest at today's sit-in. "I am risking arrest if that is what is necessary to move him to the action of denying the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The future well-being of our kids deserves no less of a response."

"Delivering Virginia for the President in 2012 was a huge honor. I put in 14 and 16 hour days because I, like most of my generation, believe in the president and I believe he’ll do the right thing on climate and reject the Keystone XL pipeline," said Andrew Nazdin, formerly Virginia's Deputy Training Director for OFA in 2012. "But until he does, we’ll be putting our bodies on the line and not volunteering to forward his agenda."

“People are ready for their government to take urgent action on the climate and they are willing to risk arrest to get it,” said Amanda Starbuck, Energy and Finance Program Director at Rainforest Action Network. “Today’s sit-in marks the start of what tens of thousands will be prepared to do if the president doesn’t stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and begin defending our country from climate change.”

The location of today’s sit-in is notable not just because it is President Obama's hometown, and the location of his activism arm Organizing for Action, but because the State Department is the agency currently engaged in finalizing the review of Keystone XL, a process that has been wrought with conflict of interest and insufficient science.

More than 62,000 people have signed the group’s Pledge of Resistance to risk arrest in peaceful, dignified civil disobedience if President Obama’s administration issues a draft National Interest Determination recommending approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Today’s action is the first of a number of civil disobedience actions the groups are planning throughout the summer to demonstrate to the president that they are serious in their pledge, and that it is politically unfeasible for him to approve Keystone XL. Read the Pledge of Resistance here: http://act.credoaction.com/sign/kxl_pledge

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  • Frances R

    Yet, another issue where majority of citizens agree on. KXL pipeline is an enivironmental nightmare. We have to get of the fossil fuel teat. I will continue to pledge my resistance to Keystone XL pipeline, will you?