BREAKING: Bill McKibben Responds to Press Sec. Jay Carney's Statements on the Tar Sands Action

News — the tar sands action team August 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

We just got some important evidence that this protest is working and that we’re breaking through to the mainstream media and the White House.

This morning, President Obama’s press secretary, Jake Carney, was questioned by reporters on Air Force One about our protest happening outside the White House. We’ve been trying to break through to the White House press corps for the last few days. Now, we know that we’ve struck a nerve.

Here’s the transcript from Air Force One:

Q: Also, anything on these protests outside the White House on this pipeline?  Has the President decided against TransCanada’s permit for the pipeline?  It’s the tar sands pipeline.  There have been a lot of arrests outside the White House about it.

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have anything new on that.  I believe the State Department has — that’s under the purview of the State Department presently, but I don’t have anything new on that.

Q: Is the President aware of the protests?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t talked to him about it.

Now, here’s the thing: while it’s great to see the press corps pushing the Administration to recognize our demonstration, the fact that Carney hasn’t yet briefed the President on the protest and the pipeline is a worrying sign about how out of touch this administration is on this issue.

“Just in the last two days everyone from the president’s chief climate scientist to an 84-year-old grandmother was arrested on his front doorstep,” said environmental author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the White House protest. “This is the largest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement in a generation, and if they really aren’t even discussing it with the president, that signals a deep disrespect for their supporters, especially young people who have demonstrated that the environment is a top priority.”

We’re going to be pushing Carney and the Administration to make sure President Obama is hearing directly from people across the country who are here in DC risking arrest, and the many hundreds of thousands more that support this cause.

As Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told the New York Times last week, the president should be listening. “I think a year ago President Obama felt he could do things that might alienate his base and organizations important to the Democratic Party and get away with it because in the end most Democrats wouldn’t go for a Republican,” Mr. Zelizer said. “Now he might pay a price for it.”

That message is being echoed by the largest environmental groups in the country.

“It will be increasingly difficult to mobilize the environmental base and to mobilize in particular young people to volunteer, to knock on thousands of doors, to put in 16-hour days, to donate money if they don’t think the president is showing the courage to stand up to big polluters,” Mike Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, told reporters last week.

Thanks to your hard work, the fight against Keystone XL has moved to the highest levels. Now let’s go out there and win it.

  1. Erica F says:

    Then there’s this gem, taped recently.

  2. msmolly says:

    Start by getting Jay Carney’s name correct. He is not “Jake.”

    Otherwise, major kudos!!

  3. Robert says:

    Unfourtunately I don’t think this administration cares if we go out and knock on doors or donate money to his reelection campaign because he is gettings big money from the oil companies and wall street. The real message should be that we’ll sit out the election if he goes forward with the tar sands pipeline.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can’t sit out the election. Look what happened to our congress in the mid-terms 2010. As much as I hate what he has done/not done – this environmental concern and my pet issue with him – allowing Dick Cheney and G.W. Bush to roam free. That one burns me up.

  4. Whitney Flower says:

    I find it very disturbing that hundreds of people are being arrested on the Presidents front door step, and he hasn’t made a comment or been briefed? Almost makes you wonder, do they care at all?

  5. Charles_Siegel says:

    “the fact that Carney hasn’t yet briefed the President on the protest and the pipeline is a worrying sign about how out of touch this administration is on this issue.”

    If Obama has not talked to his press secretary about it, that is probably because he has not decided yet what his public position will be – not because he hasn’t heard about the issue.

    Not talking to his press secretary is a way of saying “No Comment (until I figure out what my comment should be).”

  6. “I haven’t talked to him about it.”…? What is it that the President’s press secretary do again? #fail. Probably not his fault. Undoubtedly they’ve talked about it, but he’s not at liberty to disclose the discussion. I’ve watched enough West Wing to know how this works. Oh, if only we had President Bartlett.

  7. Betsy says:

    Maybe you should start a second sit-in in front of the State Department, so they can’t play the “it’s not in my dossier” game. And kudos to whoever thought to demonstrate in Minneapolis — follow him around wherever he goes, every fundraiser, every “non-campaign” appearance, every speech. Maybe we can be as much of a nuisance as the Westboro Baptist Church folks, for a much better cause.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Take a deep breath and move your energy to Congressional campaigns. We Progressives are not going to make or break Obama, he will do it his own way. I will certainly vote for him, but will invest my campaign energy in winnable progressive Congressional races.

  9. zoidie says:

    Bravo to Bill MbKibben and all those who showed up. I’ll be there on Saturday the 3rd with friends. Mother Earth needs us to show up… in large numbers… win or lose.. .we’ll be there and continue to fight for her and for a livable future.

  10. Charlie O'Connell says:


    I am a NC student. I have a question for the organizers: Is there currently a call in to Obama concerning the Pipeline protest; to let him know that it is happening? What do you all think the effectiveness of this would be?

    Charlie O’Connell

  11. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the country, the prez, needs a new press secretary…. Press Sec. comments are unbelievable and inexcusable… Certainly he should have been less off-handed, and more forthcoming on the matter. Do not like to see behavior that smacks of ostrich with head in sand…. This vital issue could result in challenged Democratic primaries = “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings”

  12. kirfly says:

    I will never vote for him again if he votes for this pipeline. Great guy, but he needs to have backbone on the environment to be my president.

    • Ling Lady says:

      the quality of candidates and lack of choices do suck. the two party system doesn’t work anymore. My jello stands up better than Obama but I will probably have to vote for the lesser of two evils. The other side talks about gutting the EPA, getting rid of regulations that give us basic quality of life, and start drilling in the Florida Everglades. There is NO LIMIT to what they are willing to destroy for energy.

  13. Betsy Rose says:

    I’m calling the white house everyday. I am asking my President Obama to reject the XL pipeline! Please call and keep those lines very busy! I don’t think I will be able to vote for him again if he doesn’t stop this pipeline.

  14. Peace in2009 says:

    yep– we need to focus on the Congress! and Congressional and Senate Races and not let this get to a point where we expect Obama To Fix it!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I called the Presidents office and spoke with a volunteer, explaining that “Yes, Barack can san “no” to tarsand oil and the Keystone XL pipeline.” After I also told the volunteer that I had a letter to send, and could I email it, she told me I could enter my message into a form on the website, or I could fax it and she gave me the number.


    When I asked if there were many people calling in on Keystone XL, she said “yes.” If my impressions are true, they certainly have KEYSTONE on their radar. Tomorrow, I will specifically ask about how they record opinions like Keystone XL.

  16. e.r. says:

    I’ve noticed that there’s virtually no news coverage of this demonstration – I haven’t seen in in the NY Times or heard about it on NPR. I’m glad to hear that someone asked the press secretary about it, but why isn’t it all over the newspapers?

    • Paul says:

      It has been covered quite a bit on RT here in the DC area. Unfortunately RT is only available in a few big city markets. The MSM has nothing to say on this vital issue.

  17. Wyonia says:

    Obama has not listened to the American people on other issues

  18. Mark Skudlarek says:

    It is good to see people getting fired up about this pipeline, and coming together in protest against it. It’s a terrible thing that people should have to protest their government about a thing that is so obviously and terribly wrong. Call me a pessimist, but this government that we are imploring to do the right thing, re-opened up the deep-water rigs in the Gulf after the BP spill. This government said that the Gulf is well on its way to recovery. This government said there is no evidence that the pipeline will cause any damage to the ecosystems that it magically passes through. This government subsidizes the companies that suck the marrow from Mother Earth.

    I’ve been petitioning and protesting this government to get its environmental act together for years. I’ve done nearly everything I can do personally to live a “sustainable” lifestyle. The computer will go next. I quit my job, grow my own, buy local and organic, ride my bike or walk, talk to people…

    I’ll go to jail… Done that a few times. I won’t pay a fine, and give The Man more money. Is Credo ready to take it to court? And what is the next action when the Obama administration says “We like keeping the US Nation addicted to what our energy companies want to feed the nation?”

    Who’s ready to go to jail and stay in jail?

    Who’s ready to fight this thing?

    Extremism is continuing to pump CO2 into the air when we’ve already drastically changed the environment. Extremism is selling fossil fueled SUVs to people when the climate is crashing. Extremism is bailing out companies that are destroying life as we know it.

    Extreme stupidity is waiting for the US government to do the right thing.

  19. LovellLee1226 says:

    I’ve been talking to everybody I know regarding this and repeatedly I have been told “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” After I explain what’s going on everybody says “Why aren’t we hearing about this?” Why isn’t the press covering this issue from coast to coast?

  20. Ling Lady says:

    These comments by his press sec makes the Pres. seem like a stupid twit that is totally out of it about the concerns from people who supported him. He’s too busy kissing ass with the other side to stand up for things he promised his supporters when he ran.

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