BREAKING: Bill McKibben Responds to Press Sec. Jay Carney's Statements on the Tar Sands Action

News — the tar sands action team August 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

We just got some important evidence that this protest is working and that we’re breaking through to the mainstream media and the White House.

This morning, President Obama’s press secretary, Jake Carney, was questioned by reporters on Air Force One about our protest happening outside the White House. We’ve been trying to break through to the White House press corps for the last few days. Now, we know that we’ve struck a nerve.

Here’s the transcript from Air Force One:

Q: Also, anything on these protests outside the White House on this pipeline?  Has the President decided against TransCanada’s permit for the pipeline?  It’s the tar sands pipeline.  There have been a lot of arrests outside the White House about it.

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have anything new on that.  I believe the State Department has — that’s under the purview of the State Department presently, but I don’t have anything new on that.

Q: Is the President aware of the protests?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t talked to him about it.

Now, here’s the thing: while it’s great to see the press corps pushing the Administration to recognize our demonstration, the fact that Carney hasn’t yet briefed the President on the protest and the pipeline is a worrying sign about how out of touch this administration is on this issue.

“Just in the last two days everyone from the president’s chief climate scientist to an 84-year-old grandmother was arrested on his front doorstep,” said environmental author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the White House protest. “This is the largest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement in a generation, and if they really aren’t even discussing it with the president, that signals a deep disrespect for their supporters, especially young people who have demonstrated that the environment is a top priority.”

We’re going to be pushing Carney and the Administration to make sure President Obama is hearing directly from people across the country who are here in DC risking arrest, and the many hundreds of thousands more that support this cause.

As Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told the New York Times last week, the president should be listening. “I think a year ago President Obama felt he could do things that might alienate his base and organizations important to the Democratic Party and get away with it because in the end most Democrats wouldn’t go for a Republican,” Mr. Zelizer said. “Now he might pay a price for it.”

That message is being echoed by the largest environmental groups in the country.

“It will be increasingly difficult to mobilize the environmental base and to mobilize in particular young people to volunteer, to knock on thousands of doors, to put in 16-hour days, to donate money if they don’t think the president is showing the courage to stand up to big polluters,” Mike Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, told reporters last week.

Thanks to your hard work, the fight against Keystone XL has moved to the highest levels. Now let’s go out there and win it.

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