You made the news.

News — the tar sands action team February 14, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

Just a few hits from the action yesterday:



National and DC Print / Online

Local / Regional & International News


Big News: Obama rejects Keystone XL – but we can't stop here.

News — the tar sands action team January 20, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

Bill McKibben just sent this email to supporters in the United States and Canada

Dear Friends

We wanted to share with you the news: this afternoon the Obama Administration announced that they are denying the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. You did good work, against some of the longest possible odds.

For years, the knock on the President Obama was that he backed down too easily in the face of opposition. Not here. When Republicans in Congress forced the issue again by passing a 60-day time limit on the President’s final decision, he stood strong and denied the permit. And that was despite the most explicit threats from Big Oil: that they would exact ‘huge political consequences’ if he did the right thing on Keystone. Make no mistake—this is a brave decision.

And make no mistake about this either—Big Oil will do everything it can to overturn that decision, because they are not used to losing. They have one weapon—money. They’ve used it to buy the allegiance of many Representatives and Senators and now they’ll use Congress to try and get their dirty work done. That’s what happened when the President delayed the permit last November, and we should expect them to try again now.

That’s why we’re going to Congress and Big Oil, beginning next Tuesday the 24th. If you can join us, we’re meeting at noon on the West Lawn, and you should wear a referee’s shirt. We’re going to ‘blow the whistle’ on the corruption that passes for business as usual on Capitol Hill, where people take money from companies whose interests they vote on. If this happened at the Super Bowl it would be a national scandal; we’ve got to make sure it’s seen that way in our political life too. We know it’s short notice, but we hope we can get at least 500 people there. Not to get arrested, at least not this time, but to make quite a noise.

If you can make it, click here to join the action in DC.

We’ll be fighting to prevent Keystone, but we’ll also be fighting to shut off the flow of handouts to the oil, gas, and coal industries, and to take away their right to use the atmosphere as an open sewer into which to dump their carbon for free. This industry, simply because it iss rich, has been cosseted too long. Time to fight back.

What you’ve done these past eight months is quite amazing—and against all the odds. We’ve won no permanent victory (environmentalists never do) but we have shown that spirited people can bring science back to the fore. Blocking one pipeline was never going to stop global warming—but it is a real start, one of the first times in the two-decade fight over climate change when the fossil fuel lobby has actually lost.

Rest assured they’ll fight like heck—their world-record profits depend on it. We better fight just as hard, because the world depends on it.



Good News: Tar Sands Action Joined

News — the tar sands action team January 2, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

Dear Friends,

Early last summer when folks decided to take on the Keystone Pipeline, we set up so we could have a broad front supported by many groups. Matt, Linda, Rae, Duncan and Josh came on board and got to work—those of you who came to DC to get arrested met them in person, and the rest of you have been in touch with them one way or another all fall.

Now the good news is that we’re going to try to keep them going—in fact, we’re bringing them aboard as our US Climate Action Team. They’ll still be working hard on tar sands  but expanding their work to take on issues like fracking, and systematic change like ending fossil fuel subsidies and attacking the idea that corporations are people.

Since many of you belong to both and, we know you’ve been getting duplicate emails, and that seems pointless.

From now on you’ll hear from the US Action Team (US because also exists in 188 other countries, where people are also hard at work!), and from the other good folks at 350 when important news breaks related to climate change.

We’re going to go ahead and add everyone here to the email list, where you’ll get critical updates from this team on ongoing organizing on Keystone XL and other similar issues.

But if you’re not interested in staying on, click here and we’ll remove you (we’ll be sad to see you go):

We have the funding we need to get this moving, but to keep the Action Team in the field long term, we’ll need a bit more on hand. We don’t do a lot of asking for money at – we’d much rather you were out taking action yourself – but if you can pitch in to keep these folks going at it, I would be very grateful. Here’s where you can donate:

Of course it’s been a tough year economically for many of us, so if you don’t have funds to spare, don’t even think about giving. There are plenty of ways to help out.

For me this is the very finest of Christmas presents. I’ve enjoyed working with these five actioneers enormously, and I’ve watched them fit in seamlessly with the young people who run If we’re going to give the fossil fuel industry a run for their (limitless) money, we’re going to need to be a lean loving fighting machine.

This will help—but only if you’re a part of it.

I’m feeling entirely fired up about 2012. This time last year I had no idea that we’d be fighting Keystone together, or that I’d be spending time in jail, or any of it; I’m pretty sure the year to come will be just as exciting.

As always, I am quite grateful for all of the hard work you’re doing.



Latest Update: Keystone XL Back on Obama's Desk

News — the tar sands action team December 23, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

Dear Friends,

We’ve been doing our best the last couple of weeks to keep you up-to-date on the machinations about Keystone in Washington. “Our best” in this case has only been so-so, because the whole process has been incredibly confusing.

But it seems to be getting a little clearer now. Today the House agreed to legislation for a payroll tax cut that also includes language forcing the president to decide one way or the other on the Keystone pipeline in the next 60 days.

Our hope is that the president will use the opportunity to deny the permit, and sooner rather than later.  His administration has made it clear many times over the past few weeks that the demand for quick approval attached to this legislation would result in the rejection of the pipeline.

As White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted a few days ago: the bill “simply shortens  the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved.
” No one could responsibly approve such a project under the gun; even the Canadian government announced this month that they would delay the review of proposed  pipelines to the Pacific for a year because of environmental concerns.

You have patiently and firmly explained to the president for the last six months why this pipeline is a bad idea—and by “you” I mean the twenty top scientists who sent  a letter explaining the climate impacts, the ten Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the dozens of tribal leaders who signed the Mother Earth Accord, the 1253 people who got arrested, the 12,000 who circled the White House, the 500,000 who filed public comments on the plan, the many many more who sent letters and emails and made phone calls to the White House and Congress.

You’ve done an amazing job; we’ll know before long whether we need you to make one more grand push, and as soon as we know you’ll know.

In the meantime, please enjoy the holidays. We’re getting our first small snowfall of the season in Vermont, which I’m taking as a good omen.

So many thanks,

Bill McKibben for


Actually Mr. Gingrich, We are the 99%

News — the tar sands action team December 21, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

Newt Gingrich went out of his way to try to smear us as extremists. Not only is he wrong about who we are – he’s also wrong about who the real extremists are. The real extremists are the people who want to dig up forests to get dirty oil to send 1700 miles across precious drinking water only so that it can be burned and put catastrophic amounts of carbon into the atmosphere to alter our planet’s climate for good. That’s extremism.


48 Hours Later… an Update on Congress

News — the tar sands action team December 19, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

Dear Friends,

About 48 hours ago, I told you we’d probably have a clearer picture of what was going on with the pipeline fight in 48 hours.

I was wrong, mistaken, and also incorrect. As it stands now, things in Washington couldn’t be muddier. The Senate, with the White House’s consent, passed a payroll tax cut plan with a rider attached that would have forced a speedy review of Keystone. That sounds bad — except that administration spokesmen said quite bluntly that if they were forced to do a quick review they’d deny the permit.

That sounds good — except that now the Tea Party caucus in the House has decided they don’t want the payroll tax cut, and they do want the Senate to come back to DC for more talks, and…you get the drift. At least for the moment, Keystone is flotsam on the unchartable tides of DC politics.


Update on Congress and Keystone XL

News — the tar sands action team December 17, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

Dear Friends,

As you might know, the Keystone tar sands pipeline is back in play.

This morning, the Senate passed a bill that requires a 60-day, expedited approval process for the pipeline in return for a payroll tax cut, and the President has said he will sign it.

The news has been swirling around Washington the last few days, with one report after another of deals and deadlines. (It’s a little weird to think that six months ago, when we started the campaign to stop this pipeline, almost no one had even heard of this thing and now it’s the center of frantic bargaining—that’s a real tribute to your efforts).

Here’s what we do know:

  1. The dirty energy industry wants the pipeline fast-tracked, and is demanding that the President grant or deny a permit within two months. They’re going to do all they can to make that happen.
  2. The administration knows that Americans don’t want that permit granted. They know because many of you encircled the White House in November,  and submitted more public comments than on any energy project in history, and because yesterday the climate movement flooded the White House switchboard with so many phone calls that the busy signal was the sound of the day. For all that work, thank you.

Here’s what we don’t know: what happens next.

Our hope — and what you should ask the President for when you write him — is that when he signs the bill he will say the obvious thing:

“Two months is not long enough to review the pipeline. The Canadians themselves have just delayed review of their tar sands pipelines over safety concerns, and we’ve just come through a year that set a record for billion-dollar climate-related disasters; I’m not going to do a rush job just to please the oil industry lobbyists. So this pipeline is dead.”

Since the State Department has already, in essence, said two months is not enough time, this should be straightforward.

We should know how it’s going to play out within 48 hours or so. We’re of course ready to fight like heck.

But for this weekend? If you haven’t gotten through to the White House, or you think you can round up some friends, you can send them a message here:  (the switchboard is now closed for the weekend).

Once you’ve done that, I recommend eggnog, football, caroling, Hannukah-shopping – and checking the email every once in a while? We’re hanging fire on this, and we’ll let you know when we find out what’s going down and if rapid reaction of some kind is required.

So so many thanks for your continued good hearted work,


P.S. We know one other thing too. On Thursday night the Republican debating society came out in favor the pipeline, which is easy for them to do since they’ve all now denied climate science. Newt Gingrich in particular blamed “San Francisco environmental extremists” with holding things up. I’m sure our California crew is happy for the shout-out, but it seemed a little unfair to Nebraska farmers, Texas ranchers, Florida College students, New York trade unionists, Wall Street occupiers, and even us Vermont granola eaters. We’re a big broad bunch and we’re going to stay that way!


President Obama About to Cave on Keystone XL?

News — the tar sands action team December 16, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

It all comes down to Barack Obama.

As I type this, Big Oil’s representatives in the House and Senate are pushing legislation that would rush approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Up until now President Obama has stood strong, threatening to reject any bill that includes the pipeline. But in the last hour, some terrible news has begun to leak from DC: President Obama seems to be on the verge of caving on Keystone.

The next few hours will be absolutely crucial — the President needs to hear from you that cutting a back-room deal with Big Oil on Keystone XL is unacceptable. If he steps up makes a public threat to veto this bill, he can stop this pipeline in its tracks.

To keep his promises, President Obama needs to veto legislation that would rush approval of Keystone XL. This pipeline is a threat to our climate and jobs and needs to be stopped.

President Obama came into office promising to “end the tyranny of oil.” This is his chance to prove he was serious. If he’s not, he needs to know right now that there will be real consequences.

Big Oil cut a back-room deal with the dirtiest Members of Congress to attach this legislation to a must-pass tax cut bill. These kinds of deals exemplify the tyranny Big Oil exercises over our government, and underscores why the President needs to threaten a veto.

Your calls right now are absolutely crucial, and you should also be getting ready to get back into the streets in the days and weeks to come. We’re dusting off our plans to go to Obama 2012 offices and raise a ruckus. Call the White House, but also get in touch with your friends to start plotting your next steps locally.

Thanks to you, this fight isn’t over yet — not by a long shot.

Let’s go,

Duncan Meisel for the team at


Oil Spill at John Boehner's Office

News — the tar sands action team December 14, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

Photo by Josh Lopez

Occupy & Crash Boehner’s Office over Backroom Attempt to Revive Keystone XL

Fossil fuel industry spent over $42 million to elect politicians involved; Activists respond with “Human Oil Spill” on Boehner’s front door

Cincinnati, OH- Members of Occupy Cincinnati joined climate activists in storming House Speaker John Boehner’s West Chester, Ohio office this morning with a “human oil spill” in response to last night’s vote to force through Keystone XL. The fossil fuel industry has poured an estimated $42,000,000 into campaign coffers of the 234 House members voting in favor, including $1,100,000 to Rep. Boehner alone, according to The industry lists the pipeline as a top priority.

“The House brings shame on itself when its members take tens of millions in big oil money and then do the industry’s bidding. Keystone XL creates no net jobs and pours carbon into the atmosphere. That’s why millions across the country opposed it,” said Bill McKibben, founder of “Its only beneficiaries are the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they support.”


House Votes to Expedite Keystone XL Decision

News — the tar sands action team December 13, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

In response to the House vote to expedite the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, author and founder Bill McKibben said:

“Hundreds of thousands of people around the country rallied this fall to oppose the climate-killing Keystone pipeline, and the administration heard them and ordered a new review. Now a tiny coterie of Congressmen is trying to revive the plan, and every one of them has taken big payments from the Big Oil. Everyone around America can do the math–all you have to do is follow the dirty money. (1)

“It’s inspiring to see the White House, and Sen. Majority Leader Reid, actually telling Big Oil a firm no–that’s the proper response to a tantrum. We’re all getting tired of seeing polluters hold the political process hostage.”


1. The House members who supported the bill netted an estimated $43,000,000 in dirty energy money cumulatively since 1999. Source:


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