25 Arrested at Keystone XL Pipeline Protest in Massachusetts
In the latest protest against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, 25 people were arrested after handcuffing themselves together inside a TransCanada office in Westborough, Massachusetts. More than 100 students, mothers and clergy members staged a “funeral for our future,” saying TransCanada’s pipeline would spur devastating climate change, pollution and potential spills.
Protesters: [singing] “They are digging us a hole. They are digging us a hole, six feet underground, where the pipeline will go.”
The Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands crude from Canada to Texas. A decision from President Obama on the project is expected soon, after a State Department review found it does not pose a serious threat to the environment. (this is from democracy now)
It was a state of the art liberal protest. There were no planned arrests at this action, to make it as accessible and low risk as possible. Celebrates had been arrested the week before. There were 34 people who got arrested after this big march of 45K participants.
What made it state of the art were the websites for the planning and the giant TV screens at the base of the Washington Monument.
What made it liberal was the frequent appeals by the speakers to patriotism and American ingenuity. There is nothing particularly American about climate change, this is a global problem.
And while leadership from the US would be great, we could be working on this from a non-nationalistic angle.
And for this protest, they are using all the tools of a classical domestic political campaign. Senators spoke at the event. The big call was for Obama to keep his promises.
Some background on Keystone first. It is an existing pipeline complex which moves tar sands from Alberta to the US–this is already happening.
The new pieces which are being protested in Washington on Feb 17th are the proposed Keystone XL “short cut” thru Montana and the extension from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast of Texas. There are a number of things which are quite depressing about this project.
And while Keystone XL is huge (transporting 830K barrels a day) it is actually dwarfed by other proposed TransCanada pipeline projects which are also (if you will excuse the pun) in the pipeline.
Converting and burning more tar sands will dramatically worsen the global climate situation.
The good news is that Obama and new Secretary of State Kerry can decide on this project without the US congress, because of its cross border nature. And Obama has made speeches since re-election on the importance of working on climate change. Kerry is a self described “climate hawk,” but first and foremost he is another corrupt politician who will support oil company profits over the environment when push comes to shove.
The ecological effects of Keystone XL are described in this NRDC brief. The water contamination effects (for which there has already been some re-routing) are significant, because of the mix of high toxins in the tar sand. But the reason that these protests are happening is the climate effects of burning this quantity of high carbon fuel.
Interestingly, Newspaper magnate Rupert Murdock opposes the project (and windmills) suggesting that domestic fracking is cheaper and easier. This is important because his media will parrot his lines.