This post was written by the core organizers of the action in New York. To join them at the White House November 6th, click here: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up
All photos by Johanna Reimer
On Monday, something important happened in New York City: anti-fracking activists and tar sands arrestees, many of them former Obama for America organizers and volunteers, joined forces to demand that President Obama deliver on his campaign promise to end the tyranny of fossil fuels and lead America into a green energy future. They were joined at the Obama for America’s Manhattan office by occupiers from Liberty Plaza, as well as the Occupation’s live feed!
The group was met by Rob Diamond, the New York State field director for OFA, who accepted over 500 signed letters demanding that Obama deny the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit and instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to vote no on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. The group included Gasland director Josh Fox and his mother, long-time activist Angela Fox, who celebrated her birthday on Monday.
The seeds of this action were sewn at Moving Planet NYC, part of 350.org’s worldwide day of action to move beyond fossil fuels on September 24. By chance, Tar Sands Action arrestees found each other at the event (easily recognizable as many of us wore our t-shirts from the action). Several of us had already been thinking of organizing an OFA office visit, so we decided to meet up and start planning. Many in the group were also anti-fracking activists and, after some discussion, it became very clear that the tar sands and fracking have a lot in common. We decided to combine our demands and approach Obama’s OFA office with a unified message: no more broken promises, now is the time to stand against fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy.
Both the tar sands and fracking are dirty energy megaprojects that would have devastating climate impacts, while poisoning almost unimaginable quantities of air, water, and soil. Industry spin-doctors have incessantly pushed these projects with dishonest ad campaigns that would make Big Tobacco blush. In addition to lying about the projects’ safety and making specious claims about fostering energy independence with fuel that is really destined for export, the corporations responsible have manipulated America’s legitimate economic concerns by touting greatly exaggerated job estimates. Fracked gas is even going to power tar sands mining in Alberta! These two projects are part of the same destructive system that recklessly sacrifices our health and economic well-being for short-term profit.
In both cases, Obama can take definitive action to stop the projects without Congressional approval. In the case of the tar sands, the State Department (read: Obama) is responsible for issuing the Keystone XL pipeline permit. In the case of fracking, the Army Corps of Engineers (again, Obama) will cast what is likely to be the deciding vote (with the governors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware likely split) in approving new regulations to allow fracking in the Delaware River Basin.
There’s no way around the fact that we face some tough odds. But with Mr. Diamond’s assurance that “everyone from Chicago on down” hears our demands and “yes we can!” still ringing in our ears, it’s hard not to feel a little hope that change might really be possible. It should be enough to embolden us that activists from such apparently diverse struggles as fracking, the tar sands, and Occupy Wall Street can find enough common ground to visit the same OFA office on a Monday afternoon to demand that our President govern according to the standards that he articulated during his campaign.