Activists in Texas organizing blockade against Keystone XL pipeline

By Candice Bernd / TruthOut

The deadline for the review of TransCanada’s permits for the Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL pipeline was Monday, June 25, 2012. At the Texas Army Corp of Engineers Galveston office and without any finalization of review, those permits will be automatically granted to the corporation – thanks to President Obama’s announcement that he would expedite the southern leg of the pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma, back in March.

That’s why Texas climate justice activists, including myself, are officially announcing the Tar Sands Blockade, an epic action that we have been organizing since the beginning of the year. We’re mostly associated with Rising Tide North Texas, and we’re 100 percent prepared to use nonviolent, direct action to block the pipeline’s construction to protect our home.

Bring it, TransCanada

The Tar Sands Blockade will be coordinating nonviolent, direct actions along the pipeline route to stop this zombie pipeline once and for all. We are working with national allies as well as local communities to coordinate a road show that will travel throughout Texas and Oklahoma as well as a regional training effort for activists interested in getting involved in the blockade movement against the Keystone XL.

“Our action is giving a new meaning to ‘Don’t Mess with Texas,'” said Tar Sands Blockade Collective member Benjamin Kessler. Kessler is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The permits for the pipeline’s construction are being automatically granted under the Nationwide Permit 12 protocol, or NWP 12.  The permits do not need an environmental impact statement to accompany them, according to this process. That very fact alone endangers more than 631 streams and wetlands that the pipeline will cross in our state. Not only that, but the entire Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which supplies drinking water for ten to 12 million homes across 60 counties in East Texas, along the pipeline’s path, is threatened with contamination.

The Keystone XL remains key to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands and leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen has called the pipeline “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.” According to Hansen, if the carbon stored in the tar sands is released into the atmosphere, it would mean “game over for the climate.” founder Bill McKibben has worked hard to get Hansen’s message out to the public and to lawmakers in Washington. After more than 1,200 were arrested during the onset of the Tar Sands Action last fall, another 12,000 turned out to surround the White House to tell President Obama that the Keystone XL is not in the nation’s best interest.

McKibben was elated to hear that the Tar Sands Blockade is continuing to foster the spirit of resistance against the pipeline in the South with the use of nonviolent, direct action.

“Let’s be clear what the drama is here: human bodies and spirits up against the unlimited cash and political influence of the fossil fuel industry. We all should be grateful for this peaceful witness,” McKibben said.

Landowners living along the pipeline’s path say they have been intimidated by TransCanada to sign away the rights to their land, and it’s not just landowners that will lose. The pipeline is expected to destroy indigenous archeological and historical sites – including grave sites – in Oklahoma and Texas.

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