Part One of Tar Sands Action Ends With Energy and Resolve

News — the tar sands action team September 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Part one of the Tar Sands Action came to a close yesterday, with 243 people sitting in and risking arrest to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This was by far the largest day of action, and a historic statement to President Obama. Protestors stood in the DC heat for over four hours in solemn opposition to the pipeline and the development of the Alberta tar sands.

Yesterday’s demonstration also showed the incredible momentum building behind this movement. Every day of last week’s action was larger than the biggest the week prior. Day after day the sit-in grew – from 72 arrests on Tuesday to 111 Wednesday, 137 Thursday, 166 Friday and then 243 on Saturday.

Along with the sit-in, The Sierra Club, and Interfaith Power and Light led a separate rally against Keystone XL that featured Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus. The rally was followed by a massive work of aerial art composed by all the participants, who formed a 1,200 person pipeline that snaked through the park, before being dismantled by everyone involved.

At the rally, Bill McKibben announced that Tar Sands Action will continue with a phase two, with details to be announced within 48 hours of the rally Saturday – to stay in the loop, sign up at

  1. Zoidie says:

    A biggest of “thank you”s to all of us. I was there.

  2. Alfred Venison says:

    dear Zoidie
    not sure if i saw you in the photos & clips, but i watched some of the whole shebang with great interest and told my friends about it.
    good show & well done.
    and good luck in “part two”.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison
    (an edmontonian canuck in queen elizabeth’s australia)

  3. Boyd Collins says:

    First, let me say how much I honor those who participated in this first phase.

    Today I listened to Bill McKibben’s interview on Flashpoints from Sept. 1. What struck me was that he seemed genuinely doubtful as to whether Obama would approve or deny the Keystone XL pipeline. The sense was that “Now we will find out who he is.” Obama has demonstrated abundantly who he is on environmental issues over the past three years. He stands with the corporate elite in every significant respect. I see no reason to doubt that he will stand with them in this case as well. He hasn’t even got the guts to put a solar panel on the White House roof.

    At this point, fostering doubt about where Obama really stands and implicitly encouraging others to entertain such doubt maintains false hope. An objective observer cannot look at his record and conclude that Obama is other than completely subservient to corporate interests. It is apparent that he was financed by those interests in order to play the role that he has played superbly – to provide rhetorical cover to the advancement of the corporate agenda, including the agenda of the energy industries. If you have evidence to the contrary, meaning concrete actions rather than rhetoric, I would be truly interested in seeing it.

    On a practical note, what will he say to those who were arrested the day after Obama decides to go full speed ahead with the pipeline? And decides to make this cynical betrayal part of his campaign platform demonstrating how he’s getting “America back to work”? To continue to place hope in the White House is a cruel illusion. But real hope is growing throughout the world, creating new political forms in Tahrir Square, Syntagma Square, and the Puerta del Sol.

    The Spanish have displayed the spirit that can drive real change. From a recent statement by the 15M movement: “When the local and national governments provocatively closed Puerta del Sol to the public at large, the 15M Movement responded with a strength and intelligence that we should continue to develop in the future. With that attitude, we ultimately succeeded in freeing the square, not only for ourselves, but for everyone. In the process, we set off a wave of criticism (even among the media and the police force itself) that questioned the legitimacy of the authorities’ preposterous decisions. In effect, we thwarted an attempt to institute a state of emergency.”

    The authority that approves the Keystone XL destroys its legitimacy with that decision. We must establish new forms of real authority, the authority of life.

    • Boyd Collins says:

      In the words of Chris Hedges, “War, as long as you view it through the distorted lens of the corporate media, is not only entertaining, but allows us to confuse state power with personal power.” As long as we focus on the personal power of Barack Obama, we miss the machine that makes him do the things we hate. He does not act as an individual with a conscience, but plays a role in the execution of state power. We must begin by understanding how that state power works, then we can devise effective strategies of resistance. Focusing on the “hidden Obama” who wants to “come out” creates a personal drama out of what is inherently impersonal – the effective execution of state power. There may or may not be such an Obama, but we’re not going to see him while he’s acting as President.

      If he were to have a moment of madness and act on what we suppose are his “true convictions”, other forces would quickly intervene and, one way or another, he would soon be out of office, replaced by a more malleable executive. It wouldn’t necessarily be violent – having a feckless loser who made a mistake like this and suffered defeat could be a powerful object lesson for future Presidents. It depends on what the most effective punishment might be at that moment.

      But Obama won’t have that moment of madness. He will execute the decisions that foster maximum short-term corporate profits and he will be richly rewarded for his reliability.

  4. Allen R. Schreiber says:

    As a fourth generation Nebraskan whose grandmother was born in the Sandhills, a fourth generation Republican and an Army officer of sixteen years, I was PROUD to be one of the 243 arrested Saturday!

    I was there for many reasons. I was there for my over 4000 brothers and sisters in arms who have given their lives fighting a proxy war for Big Oil in the Middle East the past two decades. I was there because I majored in Geology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and I know intimately and first hand just how fragile and unique the ecology and geology of the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer are, and what an act of total and complete insanity routing the Keystone XL through there is, we can NOT take a giant dump in the pot we drink and eat out of. I was there because as a Boy Scout I canoed the rivers and camped the Sandhills, have done so as an Adult Scout Leader with my own sons, and learned very young as a Scout the importance of respecting and preserving nature. I was there because as a Jew, I believe in the principle of tikun olam – to heal the world – spiritually, physically, ecologically and to not fight against the destruction the Keystone XL represents would be to deny who I am as a human being.

    Why should we allow the further destruction of the Canadian wilderness and ethnocide of the First Peoples there by allowing the Keystone XL at all?

    Have we not taken enough innocent lives, destroyed enough wildlife and habitat, polluted enough air, land and water already for almighty Big Oil? Enough is enough! It is time we redefine our paradigm on energy production.

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