What comes next for the Tar Sands Action

Uncategorized — the tar sands action team September 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Dear friends—

Here’s the battle plan we promised—a few hours late, because it’s been a big job wrapping up phase one of this campaign.

By now you know what you accomplished: 1,253 arrests, according to some journalists the biggest civil disobedience action since 1977, and the most sustained since the epic campaigns of the civil rights movement. That was enough to take a regional issue and make it a national and even global one (many thanks to our friends, who picketed American and Canadian embassies on every continent).

Together you managed to make this central environmental test for the administration, and to inform everyone who’s paying attention that Barack Obama will get to make the call by himself, without Congress in the way. In other words, you’ve laid the groundwork for a mighty victory—now we have to make it pay off.

Here’s the plan:

Our main efforts will be to keep the focus on the White House, even as we engage the State Department review process and other technical aspects of the debate. We don’t want the President to be able to hide from the decisions he’s making.

And we’re not going to do him the favor of attacking him. Instead, we’re going to pay him the dangerous compliment of taking his words from 2008 seriously. Just to remind you, here are two of the many pledges he made while he was inspiring so many of us to knock on doors and send in donations in 2008:

“Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil”

“Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children … this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

We’re still planning something big for October 7th or 8th – the 7th is the date of the last State Department hearing in Washington, DC – but first we need to go back into our communities to keep building this movement. The White House is going to be watching to see if our sit-in was an isolated incident or whether there really is a movement of people across this country rising up to stop the pipeline.

First, we need to tell the story of what just happened in Washington by meeting with folks in our communities to talk about our experiences. This could be as simple as a small gathering in your home, or as elaborate as you’d like. Your story is the most powerful tool you have to keep building this movement. A few of our organizers got together to make a PowerPoint slideshow that you can use in a meetup, and if you’d like to host an event in your community to spread the word, sign up here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/meet-up

Second, all around the country, people will be going to Obama campaign offices in polite but firm fashion to remind him that we took him seriously—that he shouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it.  Watch this video that just arrived from Seattle to get a sense of what we have in mind.  We’ll be trying to coordinate this work from city to city—if you’re willing to help in your town, and are certain you can deliver a calm, stern message, sign up here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/office-visits/

That’s our plan for now. I want to make sure that we use this opportunity to strengthen our connections with each other, and make this a true movement. This is your opportunity to start taking a leadership role in this campaign.

We’ll be giving you updates on plans for the 7th of course, and letting you know what’s up. We have no guarantee we’ll succeed, but thanks to you this fight is very much on!

-Bill McKibben for tarsandsaction.org

PS – We’re very aware that the federal government has scheduled the hearing on the 7th for Yom Kippur. With whatever action we take, we will make sure our Jewish brothers and sisters will be able to join us.

  1. Jeffc1320 says:

    one can not fight against oil tyranny without first acknowledging and accepting the geological fact that peak oil is here.

    • I can. To me and many others, peak oil is a lifestyle problem, while climate change is a life termination problem. I respect those who have done their best to point out the inevitability of running out of oil someday.

      For the purposes of the tar sands in particular, it does not matter exactly when peak oil has or will hit this or any other country. All the tar sands heavy sour crude needs to stay unprocessed in the ground, even if it were the very last drops left in the entire world.

  2. Rootsgpk@live.ca says:

    As Canadians, several of us feel our whole country should vote in a referendum to decide either to shut down or to keep this calamity going. To support us, we welcome anyone out there on Facebook to hit LIKE on our call for a referendum page:

  3. Catalyst says:

    [ in addition to the above ] PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE identify the top companies producing tar sands and protest their headquarters both in the states and at their main headquarters….. BIG media negativity riles them up like nothing else and it has to be on their front door steps and the front door steps of the private homes of the CEO’s – rally folks in Calgary Alberta to protest daily in front of the majors …. Go to the Hague and make a stink at Shell …. go to Texas and make a stink at EXXON… go to SUNCOR and really make a stink…

    Obama only listens to the oil companies… and big business… so incude them in the protests… and call Hunter Lovins she is in the middle of shells headquarters right now and she should make a stink and GET ARRESTED for civil disobedience… that is what we give her tons of donations for… EARN IT… don;t placate them please… hold them accountable!!!

    • Asteroid Miner says:

      Koch Industries HQ is in Wichita, Kansas. Charles Koch lives in Wichita in a well hidden and well guarded estate. David H Koch: Check NYNY.

    • To Catalyst and Asteroid Miner:

      I have only heard rumors of Koch and ExxonMobil involvement, not that I am defending or demeaning them, just looking for verifiable facts. It would make sense that they are involved, but they probably have only private contracts. The financing model makes this information easier to find about the companies contracted to TransCanada for the Keystone XL heavy sour crude production:

      From Price Of Oil, Report: Exporting Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed
      Aug 31, Steve Kretzmann

      Valero – the Texas independent behind last year’s attempt to overturn California’s clean fuel standards – is the only U.S. company among the six customers who have jointly committed to purchase 76 percent of Keystone XL’s initial capacity. The other refiners are Motiva, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and the Saudi government, and Total of France, both of which have newly upgraded facilities in Port Arthur tax-free trade zones. There are also two Canadian producers and one international oil-trading firm in the group of six customers.

      Valero has contracted to take at least 100,000 barrels of tar sands crude a day from Keystone XL until 2030. It’s publicly disclosed business model relies on refining heavy sour crude for export. It is upgrading its Port Arthur refinery to process heavy sour into diesel fuel. Its investor presentations clearly show it plans to ship diesel to Latin America and Europe.

  4. Branto says:

    I’d like to volunteer a day for Obama for America wearing my action T-Shirt.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have a concern about the text at the top of page 3 of the Presentation Notes, which reads,
    “‐ Biggest carbon bomb in North America – NASA’s top climate scientist James Hansen says that if we burn all the oil in the tar sands, it’s ‘essentially game over’ for the climate.”

    I question the use of the words “burn” and “all” here. My understanding of Dr. Hansen’s position, taken from the initial Tarsands Action Invitation, is his saying that if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate, “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground,” adding, “If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.” My understanding of “left in the ground” is that tar sands oil must not be DEVELOPED, which comes way, way before BURNING ALL of it. Do we need clarification from Dr. Hansen on this? To my way of thinking, this is the most important point we are trying to make.

  6. Use language like this to say what you want to say… http://bit.ly/n7vcWL I’m hoping that that will help some folks conceptualize what THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE is, so visit the link and share! TAR SANDS: NO!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Carry on with your good work and good luck!
    Here in South Africa, Shell has let know that if the SA govt. keeps dragging its feet, they will lose interest in fracking in the Karoo.
    Hope the SA govt. will keep dragging its feet for as long as it takes for Shell to shelve the plan completely!
    Let’s all say : Good riddance to Shell!

    • Catalyst1 says:

      I had no idea….. the Karoo…. I have been to the Karoo and it is a sacred sacred place…. and now threatening… the govt … crikey… so so sorry… what a mess!

  8. mundu43 _ says:

    The 7th protest may not be an effetive course because Obama is, in fact, not watching what you do. It’s bizare that you didn’t mention his repeal of smog reduction that he ordered while you were protesting – quite the smack in the face. Protest is important, and Douglass’ dictum ‘power concedes nothing without a demand’ is true. But entrenched interests are such that such small protests do not constitute effective demand – without some realism, they’re just a distraction and waste of energy and ‘hope’. Time to be more strategic.

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you have in mind?

    • Actually, the “small protest”, largest civil disobedience since past anti-nuke and anti-war protests are proving to be quite effective. After the two weeks of arrests, the rally in Lafeyette Park on September 3 drew respectful media attention.

      In order to keep the respect of the media, and exemplify the seriousness of this movement, it must continue to build. At the same time, in order to keep from being misidentified as a “fringe group”, we need to be honest about who we are and what our intentions are.

    • Useyouradverbs says:

      Obama’s a smoker. What does he care about clean air? He doesn’t know the difference. Kinda ruins his “family man” image. Not really “pro-health” at all.

  9. Useyouradverbs says:

    The Oct. 7-8 date is a poor choice as that is Yom Kippur. If you’re not aware of this Jewish high holy day, you should be. Surely you would not choose “Good Friday” or a Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu day of similar seriousness. Please educate yourselves and be more careful about choosing/organizYying national/international protest dates.

    • Anonymous says:

      This date was not of our choosing – it’s the date of the final State Department hearing. We’re talking with several religious leaders about how to best work with/around the holiday.

      • Useyouradverbs says:

        I realize this. But still. It’s a problem and, no doubt, intentional on Hilary’s part as se’s aware of th political advantage. Jilary and Obama have already made their decision. They’ve moved on. The news groups have joined them…no headlines that i’ve seen. Haven’t heard any local chatter. Instead of ignored talk we need signs…bumper stickers. Local ads…news blurbs, etc.

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