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Boardman writes: "TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline continues to march through East Texas toward the sea with the implacability of Sherman's army in 1864, although with somewhat less scorched earth and fewer casualties in its wake, during the past several months."

File photo: Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline construction in East Texas. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade.org)
File photo: Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline construction in East Texas. (photo: Tar Sands Blockade.org)


Tar Sands Crunch Time

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

08 January 13


Reader Supported News | Perspective

 

Keystone pipeline rolls over opponents, but resistance grows.

onstruction of the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline continues to march through East Texas toward the sea with the implacability of Sherman's army in 1864, although with somewhat less scorched earth and fewer casualties in its wake, during the past several months.

So far, the Canadian pipeline corporation has faced and overcome opposition all along the way - from protestors, blockaders, and court challenges - and as of January 4th, TransCanada reported that the 485-mile construction project was roughly a third complete and pretty much on schedule for completion before the end of 2013.

Despite setbacks as recently as January 3rd, when a police-supervised cherry-picker collected a tree-sitter from the pipeline right-of-way, the Tar Sands Blockade and other opposition groups kept their actions going with a non-violence training camp over the weekend. This led to the Tar Sands Blockade's largest demonstration so far on January 7th, when about 100 protestors occupied the lobby in the TransCanada office building. After about an hour, police cleared the building almost peacefully, with little more than some pushing and shoving. There were few arrests. Most of the demonstrators gathered in a greenspace across the street, where they performed street theatre featuring a "pipeline dragon," as some 40 police looked on, some on horseback quietly drinking their Starbucks.

A potentially much more important struggle goes on mostly out of sight in Washington, DC, where the Secretary of State is officially responsible for accurately assessing the environmental impact of the whole Keystone XL, all 1,100-plus miles of it. This assessment was ordered almost a year ago, when President Obama resisted Congressional pressure and denied the pipeline a permit to cross from Canada into the US until the evaluation was done - making the final decision a clear indicator of the president's seriousness about climate change.

Mike Stewart was the last sitter removed from a tree. (photo: TarSandsBlockade.org)Mike Stewart was the last sitter removed from a tree.
(photo: Tar Sands Blockade.org)

Redford Speaks Politely to Power

This was the subtext of environmentalist and movie-maker Robert Redford in a recent piece that doesn't mention President Obama by name, but calls in quietly measured tones for his government to deny the pipeline a permit:

"This is a time for climate leadership. So, instead of a shoddy Keystone XL environmental review, the first major climate action for this Administration's second term should be to set limits on climate change pollution from power plants. That is the kind of action that makes sense.

"And then it will make sense to reject this dirty energy project. With extreme weather taking its toll on communities all over America, we can't afford another major dirty energy project such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."

The Alberta tar sands in Canada, like tar sands everywhere, do not contain oil. The near-solid bitumen in tar sands can be turned into a high-sulfur content oil by treatment with toxic chemicals, heat, and pressure. The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to transport over 700,000 barrels of hot tar sands oil under pressure every day, from Canada across the heartland of the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, from whence it will mostly go to overseas markets, especially China.

In contrast to Redford's polite demurrer, NASA scientist James Hansen has looked at the very same set of facts and concluded that Canadian tar sands "contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history" - and that exploitation of this "resource" would mean, effectively, "game over for the climate."

Hansen was critical of President Obama for taking the attitude that the Canadians would exploit their tar sands no matter what the US does. Redford suggests this may not be true, that:

"Canadians know better - they haven't let new tar sands pipeline be built yet to either of their own coasts. In fact, the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline to the west coast is considered dead by many."

Resistance Continues to Grow and Spread

With completion of the Keystone XL, this would become irrelevant. With Keystone blocked, it could be wishful thinking. There is already serious resistance in British Columbia, Nebraska and Vermont, as well as Texas and other points along likely pipeline routes. And resistance appears to continue to grow, as noted in CounterPunch in discussing the rise of Idle No More, a coalition of indigenous people in Canada in recent months, who are now joining the tar sands protest in Texas:

Idle No More solidarity rally with Tar Sands Blockade. (photo: TarSandsBlockade.org)Idle No More solidarity rally with Tar Sands Blockade.
(photo: Tar Sands Blockade.org)
"In the coming days a new blockade will be set up in Texas as the resistance to Tar Sands grows. Plans are a foot across the country and the world for solidarity actions with Idle No More movement and direct actions targeting these industries and governments that continue to push our health, the environment and the existence of future generations aside for the profits of the transnational corporations defining the global political regime.

"Let's hope that 2013 brings a needed awakening in the United States and that the Obama liberals and progressives shake off their shackles to a system that is plodding along in the wrong direction and decide to be Idle No More!!!"

The Lufkin Daily News posted a video of a non-violent but nevertheless odd arrest on January 3rd of a man asking for an explanation of why he had to move out of a public right-of-way. Tar Sands Blockade described the sheriff's behavior this way:

"Escalated police harassment of supporters along public highway continues:

"Angelina County sheriffs continue to push the limits of their legal authority with their harassment of supporters trying to observe the blockade from the side of a public highway. Supporters have been detained under the pretense that they were 'witnesses to a felony investigation' and ordered to produce ID."

Later the group reported that six blockaders were being held in jail, with bail set at $10,000 each. To deal with one person of color who was arrested without ID, the sheriff's department called immigration authorities.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ9FPfGQKTQ

Tar Sands Blockade-Idle No More
Solidarity Round Dance at KXL Construction Site


Photos courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade.org, video by Francisco Diaz.



William Boardman runs Panther Productions.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+65 # ghostperson 2013-01-08 13:57
We will have reached the bottom if Americans cannot or do not stop the poisoning of our lands and waters so that Big Oil can poison the air with contaminants.

This is "a" if not "the" symbol of the fight people face today against corporatists and their handmaidens in government. Poison is forever.

We cannot agree to let Big Greed poison us, our children and our children's children.
 
 
+29 # happycamper690 2013-01-08 14:52
So who the heck gave Texas the go-ahead to build a piece of the project? We will ruin our environment to export the product to China. It all makes utterly no sense ... unless of course you are in line to make big bucks. Of course, there is really little doubt, no matter how hard we try, that the world's largest industry can be stopped.
 
 
+30 # Rich Austin 2013-01-08 15:00
ghostperson -

We reached the bottom long ago. Illegal wars and a health care system that causes 101,000 amenable mortalites every year has that effect.

Until we begin caring for people we won't give Mother Earth the respect she is due. And it will be in that order.
 
 
0 # handmjones 2013-01-08 16:17
amenable???
 
 
+5 # Smokey 2013-01-08 16:24
[quote name="Rich Austin"] "Until we begin caring for people, we won't give Mother Earth the respect she is due. And it will be in that order."

Good points.... If political leaders don't care about people, why should they care about Mother Earth?

Some people say that "saving the planet" is more important than saving people. Sounds like some new variety of "blood and soil" Fascism. Although it may, for the moment, be a hazy form of romanticism. ("Young Adolph."
 
 
-4 # Mannstein 2013-01-08 18:06
Please get it right if you're going to mention his name. It's Adolf not Adolph. Incidentally the Nazis were high on conservation and environmentalis m. They also passed strict laws against cruelty to animals. Vivesection was outlawed for example. These facts never mentioned in the West will shock some American liberals I'm sure.
 
 
+9 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-08 20:55
They would have been lovely people except for their penchant for starting wars and imprisoning others, not to mention gassing them as well. Still, looking around, these things still exist today under another name, so I suppose Goebbels and all the rest must be pleased in whatever hereafter they are consigned to.
 
 
0 # Smokey 2013-01-09 08:41
[quote name="Mannstein "]"Please get it right if you're going to mention his name. It's Adolf not Adolph. Incidentally the Nazis were high on conservation and environmentalis m. They also passed strict laws against cruelty to animals. Vivesection was outlawed for example....."

Oh, yes... And Hitler was a vegetarian at the end of his life. Very true.

"Tomorrow Belongs to Me" - from the musical "Cabaret" - is a wonderful song that celebrates the glory of Nature.
(The term is capitalizad, right?)

When people decide that enjoying and protecting Nature is more important than protecting people - in particular, the 47% - we're on our way to the world of "Cabaret." (Power politics, big money, and live-for-today hedonism join together in alliance. Some booze and dope will ease the pain and guilt.)
 
 
+27 # She Cee 2013-01-08 15:21
Who is behind the push to approve The Keystone XL pipeline? If you haven't guessed, it's the Koch brother's. Their refineries in Texas will process the tar sands to produce oil that is destined to be shipped overseas, mostly to China.

The Koch brothers don't care that this filthy substance will be transported over America's heartlands, the breadbasket of this country where it can destroy the soils needed to grow food.

Excerpted below from the article above........

"NASA scientist James Hansen has looked at the very same set of facts and concluded that Canadian tar sands "contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history" - and that exploitation of this "resource" would mean, effectively, "game over for the climate."

and.....

"The Alberta tar sands in Canada, like tar sands everywhere, do not contain oil. The near-solid bitumen in tar sands can be turned into a high-sulfur content oil by treatment with toxic chemicals, heat, and pressure (a process that sounds like Fracking). The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to transport over 700,000 barrels of hot tar sands oil under pressure every day, from Canada across the heartland of the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, from whence it will mostly go to overseas markets, especially China.

So, I wonder, who is getting paid-off to allow Keystone's approval?
 
 
+10 # soularddave 2013-01-08 23:08
Where have millions of Koch dollars been spent in recent months? There's your answer.

One wonders if Koch dollars aren't reaching sheriffs and police departments in Texas.

Nasty, soul-less brothers, those Kochs.
 
 
+23 # phyllisbrown 2013-01-08 15:41
I recently spoke with a man from Texas. He said that Canadians install-
ing the piplines seized Texan farm lands to forcibly do their dirty work. They did not pay the landowners one cent, and there wasnothing the farmers could do about it. Most of the oil is going to the Orient; so why is it even being allowed? How much evil money has crossed greedy palms? How many people must be sickened by chemicals in drinking water before we do something about it? Also, "they" are using our precious water, and it's needed by farmers and cattle!
 
 
+1 # Smokey 2013-01-08 16:18
Religious groups will march in Washington, DC, this weekend (January 15-16) to express their concern about global warming and, also, their opposition to tar sands pipelines.

Any objections to religious groups getting involved in these protests? (Reportedly, some "liberals" don't want religious groups to be involved in public affairs.)
 
 
+13 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-08 20:57
Any religious group with a smigeon of religion should be marching everywhere. Certainly destroying creation and all the life within it can only be the religion of the Great Adversary, however any religious group wants to name it. The Keystone Pipeline is just such a destruction.
 
 
+3 # soularddave 2013-01-08 23:13
Quoting Smokey:
(Reportedly, some "liberals" don't want religious groups to be involved in public affairs.)


You misunderstand. Public affairs and POLITICAL affairs are completely different efforts. It's a tax exemption thing that disallows political campaigning.
 
 
+14 # Rich Austin 2013-01-08 16:26
Phyllis –

As Mark Twin opined, ““A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”. You were fed either disinformation or misinformation.

Texas law allows the company to take possession of easements under state eminent-domain language.
A Texas judge said so.

The farmers will be compensated for whatever land was seized.

Please understand, this post is not a defense of pro-corporate laws, lawmakers, and courts. It is simply an attempt to proceed with fact-based information. Exaggeration is the enemy of credibility.

If the people of Texas don’t like what politicians, the courts and the judge did they should toss the lot of ‘em out on their backsides. Guess what? It won’t happen. Horrible, corporate-servi ng politicians are elected and reelected across our land. Few are “unelected” (even in Wisconsin and Michigan). If Texans ever toss out mouthpieces for corporatism...t hat would be BIG, BIG news!
 
 
+13 # 4yourinformation 2013-01-08 16:44
This Tar Sands travesty is another blow to the environment that we need to live and to democracy. Only unpopular projects have to be bullied through. Tar Sands don not even fulfill the promises that are cited by industry flaks. Tar Sands are an indicator that we have hit the bottom of fossil fuel access and that the end of cheap oil is near. We must defeat suburban sprawl and car-centric land use plans. We must build sustainable communities and grow and consume food in the same places instead of shipping it all around for processing. If we don't, we will end up in utter hell.
 
 
-19 # Mannstein 2013-01-08 18:11
Does Robert Redford get around by driving a bicycle? If not why not? I understand Al Gore flies around in a private jet which is much more polluting per passanger mile than an airliner.
 
 
+9 # seeuingoa 2013-01-08 17:48
The Americans have woken up long time ago
but the politicians don´t wake up before we have had several Sandys or worse, several states with Colorado like wild
fires, and several fracking-sinkholes
where schools and kindergartens disappear
in the ground.

Why?

Because the politicians are not interested in the best for the people, but what is best for themselves.
And what is best for themselves means
corruption, greed, and not giving a shit
about what is happening in the world outside the White House and Capitol Hill.

This was a very obvious commentary,
sorry for that, but what else to do
when you are angry and frustrated?
 
 
+11 # Polar Bear 2013-01-08 18:30
They are working on the Pipeline in Okla..we are organizing actions...The workers are from Wisconsin...so much for giving us jobs..the pipeline company is Michaels...know anything about them?Bank of Scotland is behind a lot of this ...they have protested the Bank
 
 
0 # Bear3440 2013-01-11 16:12
Another Lie, they will help ease the Gas shortage. The Tar Sands are so DIRTY,( I know everybody wants to say it, " How Dirty are they?), they can mainly only be refined into DIESAL FUEL!!!
 

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