Tar Sands Action launched our campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline with a two-weeks sit-in at the White House this August. Now, the campaign is spreading across North America. Please click on the links below or contact our media team for more information.

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Jamie Henn, 415-601-9337,
Daniel Kessler, 510-501-1779,

Press Releases

Response to News of Keystone XL Reroute 

WASHINGTON —  In response to the news that the Obama Administration will be requesting a 12-18 month review for the Keystone XL pipeline, effectively killing the project according to most analysts, Tar Sands Action had the following reactions:

From activist Bill McKibben, founder of who spearheaded protests against the pipeline:

“A done deal has come spectacularly undone. The American people spoke loudly about climate change and the president responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in recent years so that makes this an important day. The president deserves thanks for making this call–it’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash.

Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone XL. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end.  As late as last week the CBC reported that TransCanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted.

“The president should know that nothing that happened today changes our position–we’re unequivocal in our opposition. If this pipeline proposal reemerges from the review process intact we will use every form of nonviolent civil disobedience to keep it from ever being built.

“We take courage from today’s announcement. It’s an unspoken salute to the power of people who come together in the open to demand action; it gives us some clues about how to fight going forward.”

From Jane Kleeb, founder of BOLD Nebraska, who led pipeline protests in the state:

“President Obama is making the right and tough decision. We hope he continues to consider climate, health and the impacts of extreme energy like tar sands on our land and water while creating a path to real energy independence. The bottom line is, when President Obama stands up to big oil, we stand with him.”


More information on the fight against Keystone XL:

This August, 1,253 people were arrested as part of a two-week sit-in at the White House, putting Keystone XL on the national agenda for the first time. Demonstrations spread throughout the fall, with pipeline protesters meeting President Obama at nearly every public campaign stop and visiting Obama campaign offices to make their opposition known. Last Sunday, more than 12,000 people surrounded the White House, instigating a chain reaction of administration announcements that culminated in this afternoon’s decision.

More information on what a delay means for the Keystone XL pipeline:

Most energy analysts believe that a 12-18 month delay may be fatal to the Keystone XL project. TransCanada’s President and CEO Russ Girling:

“If the administration delays the project long enough where it becomes a low probability it will ever get through the process in time to meet [the shippers’] needs. They need crude oil by a time certain.”




Tar Sands Action Response to News of Inspector General Investigation of State Department Keystone XL Review

In response to the State Department’s inspector general decision to conduct a “special review” of the department’s analysis of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, who helped to lead yesterday’s 12,000 person ally outside the White House, said:

“It’s good to see the administration beginning to listen to responsible lawmakers, and we look forward to the results of this inquiry about the warped environmental review process. But it’s important to understand that the process has always been the smaller of our objections. while we’ve been dismayed by the corrupt conduct of the state department, our real problem has from the start been the fact that these tar sands are the second largest pool of carbon on earth. Since the State Department didn’t even bother to study that global warming question, the only real answer is to send this back for a whole new review — or, better yet, for the President to simply back up his campaign promises and deny the permit outright.

“Everyone should know that this will only encourage people across America to step up the tar sands fight. We’re headed to Obama offices across the country, including his headquarters in Chicago and in all the swing states, with the same message: President Obama promised to fight for the climate and now without Congress in the way, he can actually do it.”

Tar Sands Action is planning a large demonstration at OFA headquarters in Chicago on Nov. 16.


November 5, 2011


10,000 Will Surround White House to Protest Keystone XL Pipeline this Sunday

Mark Ruffalo, Bill McKibben, Nobel Prize and Medal of Freedom recipients, and top environmental leaders will lead demonstration

WASHINGTON – The battle over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will reach a decisive moment this Sunday when nearly 10,000 people are expected to join hands around the White House and show President Obama he has the support he needs to stand up to Big Oil and stop the pipeline.

In an interview Tuesday, President Obama took full ownership over what has become the most important environmental question facing him before the 2012 election: whether or not to grant the necessary permit for a 1,700 mile pipeline which would carry toxic tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Who: Nearly 10,000 people and top environmental leaders and celebrities, including actor Mark Ruffalo, activist Bill McKibben, Sierra Club executive director Mike Brune,  Medal of Freedom recipient and NRDC founder John Adams, Nobel Prize recipient Jody Williams, and more.

Where: Lafayette Square Park across from the White House

When: Spokespeople will be available for interviews between 1:00 – 2:00 pm, opening rally begins at 2:00 pm, crowd will encircle the White House from 3:00 – 4:30 pm, closing rally begins at 5:00 pm.

Why: President Obama is currently considering whether or not to grant a “presidential permit” for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The project requires the special permit because it crosses an international border with Canada. The Keystone XL would carry tar sands oil, the dirtiest fuel on the planet, over 1,700 miles across America’s heartland, risking a BP-style oil spill over one of our largest sources of fresh drinking water. America’s top climate scientist says that fully exploiting the tar sands could mean “essentially game over for the climate.” This August, 1,253 people were arrested during a sit-in at the White House protesting the pipeline.


For immediate release

Oct 24, 2011

Obama hire Broderick Johnson was Keystone XL Lobbyist; “It Stinks” Says Bill McKibben

WASHINGTON, DC — Campaigners protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline reacted with anger today to the news that the Obama campaign had hired a former lobbyist for the pipeline as a new senior advisor to the president’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Records show that Broderick Johnson lobbied Congress on the Keystone XL pipeline while working for Bryan Cave LLP, a top lobby firm in Washington, DC. During the fourth quarter of 2010, the firm spent $120,000 working on the issue. (1) Bryan Cave LLP reported earnings of $1.08 million between 2009-2011 lobbying on behalf of pipeline company TransCanada, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (2)

“The news about Mr. Johnson comes on top of the revelations that Hillary Clinton’s former deputy campaign manager became the lead lobbyist for the pipeline firm TransCanada, and that the State Department literally let TransCanada pick the company that would conduct the environmental review of its project,” said Bill McKibben, of, which has been spearheading protests against the pipeline. “It stinks. I don’t think you could conceive a more elaborate way to disrespect not just the environmental community but also Occupy Wall Street, because this is simply a reminder of the way that corporate lobbyists dominate our politics. Forget ‘Hope and Change’–it’s like they want their new slogan to be ‘Business as Usual.'”

McKibben said the only saving grace was that Johnson was working for the campaign, not the White House. “Maybe, just maybe, Barack Obama himself still hasn’t made up his mind about the pipeline. That’s why we’re going to surround the White House on November 6, carrying signs and banners with words from his 2008 campaign about the need to end ‘the tyranny of oil’. We want to see if we can somehow jog his memory.”

Thousands of people are expected to join the November 6 White House demonstration. Earlier this morning, Tar Sands Action released a video of actor Mark Ruffalo encouraging participants at Occupy Wall Street to join the Keystone XL protest. (3)


CONTACTS: Daniel Kessler,; Jamie Henn, jamie@350.org415-601-9337


1. Q4 Lobbying Report for Broderick Johnson:

2. TransCanada Lobbying on Open Secrets:

3. Actor Mark Ruffalo endorses Keystone XL protest:


September 16, 2011

Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline Spreads Across North America

WASHINGTON, DC — The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline has become the marquee environmental bout of the 2012 election season, with serious implications for President Obama’s campaign and the future of the North American environmental movement.

The proposed 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would carry dirty, tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. A rupture in the pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America’s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 20 million people. NASA’s top climate scientist says that fully developing the tar sands in Canada would mean “essentially game over” for the climate.

After a historic two-weeks sit-in at the White House this August that led to the arrest of 1,252 Americans and Canadians, the group behind the protests, Tar Sands Action, is now taking its fight against Keystone XL nationwide.

Keeping up the Pressure on President Obama

Campaign volunteers (many of whom were arrested at the White House themselves) have organized demonstrations at every one of President Obama’s public events this September, as well as confronted Obama campaign director Jim Messina and Vice-President Joe Biden. These events will continue throughout the fall: wherever the President goes, the pipeline protestors will be there.

Groups of 20-50 volunteers around the country are also visiting Obama for America campaign offices to tell staffers that while they supported the President in 2008, they will only volunteer or donate during this election cycle of President Obama stands up to Big Oil and denies the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

State Department Hearings

From September 26-30, the State Deparment will host public comment hearings in pipeline states. Tar Sands Action will be working to support our in-state allies to drive turn-out to the hearings.

The largest and most dynamic hearings are expected to be the September 27 hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska and the September 28 hearing in Austin, Texas.

On October 7, the State Department will host a final public hearing at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. Tar Sands Action allies, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Energy Action Coalition, will be turning out a large crowd of pipeline protesters to the meeting.

Mass Mobilization and Civil Disobedience

Tar Sands Action will continue to keep the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline in the spotlight through a variety of high profile actions this fall.

On September 24, our allies at are coordinating an international day of action, Moving Planet, focused on the need to move away from fossil fuels. Thousands of events are planned in over 150 countries around the world. For more information, please click here.

On September 26, our allies in Canada are organizing a sit-in in Ottawa with hundreds of people risking arrest to pressure the Canadian government to shut down the tar sands and stop pushing the Keystone XL pipeline. For more information, please click here.

Additional mobilizations and events are also planned for the United States. For more information about events in the United States, please stay tuned to this website or join our email list. To be added to our press list, please email Daniel Kessler:


The Tar Sands Action team is available to speak about the Keystone XL fight or connect interested press with spokespeople across the United States and Canada. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.


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