Spokespeople

To schedule an interview with one of our spokespeople, please contact: Jamie Henn, jamie@tarsandsaction.org, 415-601-9337 Daniel Kessler, danieljkessler@gmail.com, 510-501-1779

Lead Spokespeople

Bill McKibben Bill McKibben launched Tar Sands Action and is the lead spokesperson for the protest at the White House this August. Bill is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him “the planet’s best green journalist” and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.” Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges, including the Universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the State University of New York, and Whittier and Colgate Colleges. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Jane Kleeb Jane Kleeb is on the front lines of the pipeline fight running a group called Bold Nebraska that coordinates activities, groups, citizens and landowners in the state. Using creativity and grassroots citizen organizing, Jane has brought the pipeline issue from just a few knowing about it to a dominant issue at the local, state and federal level. She will be leading a delegation of over a dozen Nebraskans to Washington, DC this August to take part in the protest at the White House. Before moving to Nebraska, Jane ran Young Democrats of America and defended progressive ideas and values on Fox and MSNBC, going up against the likes of Ann Coulter. Jane lives in Hastings, Nebraska with her husband Scott Kleeb and their three young girls. Naomi Klein Naomi Klein co-authored with Bill McKibben the invitation letter that launched the Tar Sands Action and sit-ins at the White House. Naomi is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and #1 international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Published worldwide in 2007, The Shock Doctrine is being translated in over 25 languages and has over a million copies in print. It appeared on multiple ‘best of year’ lists including as a New York Times Critics’ Pick of the Year. Rachel Maddow called The Shock Doctrine, “The only book of the last few years in American publishing that I would describe as a mandatory must-read.” Naomi  is a contributing editor for Harper’s and reporter for Rolling Stone, and writes a regular column for The Nation and The Guardian that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Additionally, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail, El Pais, L’Espresso and The New Statesman, among many other publications. She is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of King’s College, Nova Scotia. David Daniel David Daniel is a landowner in east Texas whose property is would be cut in half by the Keystone XL pipeline. He will be leading a road trip across the south to Washington, DC this August to educate fellow Americans about the threat the Keystone XL pipeline poses to communities and the environment. David bought his land specifically for its lush resources with the intention of preserving it; 20 acres of 100-year-old trees, wetlands, wildlife and spring-fed creeks were to be his family’s sanctuary. “Our intention was to preserve our land as a legacy for our daughter,” he says. “We never dreamed that we would live to see any part of it destroyed, especially by a foreign oil company.” Soon after the surveyors came through, David received several intimidating letters from TransCanada. Then, land agents were sent to his home, pressuring him to sign contracts he was not given time to read. Fearing he would lose his land completely, David eventually signed an easement agreement.But he hasn’t given up. David is organizing with farmers and landowners from Nebraska to Texas to inform others about the risks toxic pipelines pose, and the threat his family is now forced to live with.”My family will be forced to live in fear and physical danger of this pipeline with some of the most toxic stuff we’ve ever seen come through this state. This is our home and was supposed to be a safe place to raise our daughter, and now it’s at risk for an oil disaster.” Melina Laboucan-Massimo Melina Laboucan-Massimo is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta and is helping lead a delegation of indigenous leaders from Canada and the United States to take part in the Tar Sands Action. She has been working as an advocate for Indigenous rights for the past 10 years. She has written articles and produced a short documentary for Redwire Media Society covering topics ranging from the tar sands to inherent treaty rights and cultural appropriation. She has studied and worked in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada, with a focus on Indigenous rights and culture, resource extraction and international diplomacy. Before joining Greenpeace as a tar sands campaigner in Alberta in April 2009, she was pursuing her Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. Melina has campaigned to raise awareness about the recent oil spill in the Peace River watershed in Alberta. She is featured in Greenpeace’s photo essay about the spill and its impact on local communities. Clayton Thomas-Muller Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is an activist for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. He is helping lead a delegation of indigenous leaders from Canada and the United States to take part in the Tar Sands Action. With his roots in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Clayton began his work as a community organizer, working with Aboriginal youth. Clayton went on to achieve many accomplishments as a youth leader in the Aboriginal community. Over the years Clayton’s work has taken him to five continents across our Mother Earth. He has been on the front lines of stopping industrial society’s assault on Indigenous Peoples lands to extract resources and to dump toxic wastes. Based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Clayton is involved in many initiatives to support the building of an inclusive movement for Energy and Climate Justice. He serves on the boards of the Collective Heritage Institute (CHI), which hosts the annual Bioneers Conference in Marin, California and the Global Justice Ecology Project. Recognized by Utne Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 activists in the United States and as a “Climate Hero” 2009 by Yes Magazine, Clayton is the tar sands campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He works across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states with grassroots indigenous communities to defend against the sprawling infrastructure that includes pipelines, refineries and extraction associated with the tar sands, the largest and most destructive industrial development in the history of mankind. Clayton is a gifted poet and rap artist. He is happily married and is a proud father of two sons. Maude Barlow Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations. She also chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch and is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. 

Maude was one of the “1000 Women for Peace” nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. In the same year, she received the prestigious Lannon Cultural Freedom Fellowship as well as the Right Livelihood Award. Known as the “Alternative Nobel” and given by the Swedish Parliament, the Right Livelihood Award cited her “exemplary and long-standing worldwide work for trade justice and the recognition of the fundamental right to water.” She also won the Citation of Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Canadian Environmental Awards, Canada’s highest environmental honour. Recently Maude was named the first Advisor on Water to the United Nations where she advises Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, the new President of the General Assembly. 

Maude is also the star of several documentaries about water. She is also the best selling author or co-author of 16 books, including the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water. Brant Olson
Brant is the Freedom from Oil campaign director at the Rainforest Action Network and a leading anti-tar sands activist in the United States. This August, he broke the story of how Keystone XL proponents created fake Twitter accounts to promote the pipeline. The story was subsequently picked up by The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Mother Jones, The Hill, and others. Brant has worked as a strategist on national corporate campaigns in the retail, finance, energy and forest sectors for more than seven years. While working at RAN, he has negotiated agreements from The Home Depot, Lowes, Centex Homes, ProBuild, BlueLinx, Boise Cascade, Georgia Pacific and others. His research into campaign finance and corporate supply chains have been featured in national publications including Business Week and the New York Times. Brant can be found on Twitter: @branto
  Ben Gotschall Ben Gotschall is a 30-year-old rancher from Atkinson, Nebraska. Ben became an outspoken opponent of the Keystone XL after learning that the pipeline would cross Holt Creek, just a few miles from where it flows through the middle of the Gotschall ranch where his family has worked the land for four generations. Ben knows organic farmers must pay particular attention to soil and water quality, and Nebraska’s crystal aquifers and unspoiled grassland are vital to his way of life. “This pipeline goes against the whole foundation of organic farming,” he explains. “All we have out there is grass and water. That’s how we make our living.” What most upsets Ben is that farming livelihoods in Nebraska are being threatened just so a foreign oil company can make more money. Instead of building more pipelines, Ben would like to see Nebraska’s wind energy harnessed. Nebraska has the sixth highest wind energy potential in the country, and presents a significant opportunity for good Nebraska jobs. “We need to do things that put money in Nebraskan pockets, not foreign corporate pockets,” he says. BOLD Nebraska turned the picture of Ben on his horse into a poster opposing the pipeline and the image has become a an iconic symbol of the fight of everyday Nebraskans to protect their land, water, and climate.

Tar Sands Action Participants

Flora Bernard – Utah Flora Bernard is the co-director of Peaceful Uprising, an organization co-founded by Tim DeChristopher and a group of friends around Tim’s 2008 arrest for disrupting an auction of leases for oil and gas drilling on federal land. This July, Tim was sentenced in two-years in prison for his act of civil disobedience. The Salt Lake City Tribune wrote of the sentence, “This is not justice but an unconscionable injustice.” Inspired by Tim’s example and all of her friends in Utah who have stood by him, Flora will be coming to DC to take part in the Tar Sands Action and continue to express the “joy and resolve” necessary to solve the climate crisis. Click here to read Flora’s story. Sharon Wilson – Texas Sharon Wilson is a Texan, known online as TXSharon, who has been on a multi-year mission to protect her community from the horrors of natural gas fracking drilling. A homeowner living on the Barnett Shale, she has been waging a fight for the health of her family and environment at ground zero of the natural gas industry’s expansion into America. Click here to read Sharon’s story. Jean Altomare – North Dakota Jean Altomare is a Park Ranger from North Dakota who found out about the Tar Sands Action on Facebook and is now coming to DC to risk arrest to protect the land that she’s come to know and love. “Our park  is downhill from a drill site that is expected to be built in the upcoming months,” says Jean.  “At night, already, the park can see methane flares from drill sites in all directions.” When asked why she wanted to participate in the action, Jean said, “I want a family one day, I want to raise kids who will find a place in this world. Already though, there are families out there who can’t find food, or water, or dry land to make sure that those they love are protected, and that breaks my heart. So instead of letting the sadness overwhelm me, I decided to act.” Click here to read Jean’s story. Harriet Shugarman – New Jersey Harriet is a New Jersey mother of two who is making the trip to Washington D.C. this August to risk arrest to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Also a native of Alberta, Canada, she recently returned from a tour of the tar sands mine inspired to take action to defend her children’s future. “Do I want my kids to know that I feel so strongly about their future that I am willing to get arrested to protect it?” asked Harriet. “Answer: definitely!” Click here to read Harriet’s story.          
  1. saw bill m. on pbs tonite. impressed. the opposition was not a “shout em down brainless guy either.” this is huge. important that we educate our selves about this. cutting thru so many states’ water sources, putting so many aquifers at risk, a must discuss & take action. appreciate all who represent me on the front lines of this action.

  2. Hey, why do people keep telling me that the Tar Sands Action was organized by groups like Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and 350.org?

  3. Jshare says:

    i think you are all way off base and fail to see how many benefits this pipeline can provide with little environmental risk.

    • Trixforkid says:

      Come to Michigan and look around at the devastating effects left behind by the Sand Tar oil spill that occurred in July of 2010 and then tell us that there is little environmental risks.

    • jh says:

      little environmental risk:
      http://www.sindark.com/2010/02/04/is-runaway-climate-change-possible-hansens-take/
      Dr. James E. Hansen
      director NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
      National Academy of Sciences member
      Storms of My Grandchildren
      “The paleoclimate record does not provide a case with a climate forcing of the magnitude and speed that will occur if fossil fuels are all burned. Models are nowhere near the stage at which they can predict reliably when major ice sheet disintegration will begin. Nor can we say how close we are to methane hydrate instability. But these are questions of when, not if. If we burn all the fossil fuels, the ice sheets almost surely will melt entirely, with the final sea level rise about 75 meters (250 feet), with most of that possibly occurring within a time scale of centuries. Methane hydrates are likely to be more extensive and vulnerable now than they were in the early Cenozoic. It is difficult to imagine how the methane clathrates could survive, once the ocean has had time to warm. In that event a PETM-like warming could be added on top of the fossil fuel warming.

      After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.”

  4. Bridgetzlm says:

    Could we get some action going here from our members by writing to television stations and web sites that are showing the bogus Exxon commercials and request that Exxon show proof before they continue to air them. These commercials are full of lies! MSNBC plays them all night long. I like to watch Rachel Maddow but I’m almost to the point of giving up on her. I decided to just read her web blog/site but now these same commercials come up before you can read anything and it won’t let you skip it. Here is a copy of some text I left on her web site today:

    To the Rachel Maddow Show:
    Your web site is forcing the Exxon lie on me and other viewers through forced advertising. I thought MSNBC had principles? I just got back from a really powerful protest in which we circled the White House to say NO TO THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE and ALBERTA TAR SANDS. I come to your site to see if you’re covering it and I find advertising from Exxon stating how wonderful and “clean” the Alberta oil sands are: http://www.youtube.com/exxonmobil

    How about fact checking this ad???? Debunktion Junktion right here and now Rachel! The advertisement states: “The oil sands can be produced into fuel with the same emissions as many other oils” … please specify which oils that would be and how they arrived at these numbers? It’s impossible Rachel. The commercial also begins by saying that two of the biggest challenges America is facing is energy security and jobs. Most of the oil coming from the “oil” sands is scheduled to be shipped overseas, even what is imported into America!

    Another lie: “Hundreds of thousands of jobs” will be created for America? Do they mean United States of America? North America? Canada? Are these jobs permanent? How did they arrive at these numbers? Are they willing to guarantee a certain percentage of them? I’ve seen employment numbers for mere fractions of what Transcanada estimates or presents during commercials and/or arguments. Please document how these employment projections were formulated and specify if the jobs are temporary or permanent. We haven’t even started talking about the destruction the Boreal forest.

    If you can stomach this ad to the end… another one will start right behind it touting how clean natural gas is being obtained from fracking…

    Your probably my favorite newscaster Rachel but I honestly don’t know how I can continue to stomach these lies. It used to be that I could skip your TV show and try to pick it up on the net. Now Exxon has infiltrated your web site. Is it time for me to say goodbye to The Rachel Maddow Show?

    Blatant lies through advertising, run repeatedly throughout your show, really makes it hard to take your show seriously. Can’t you see this?

    PS: I still love you. Please help me here in SW Virginia.

  5. Dick Hurtz16 says:

    A bunch of fucking environmental assholes.

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