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From D.C. to Connecticut, Obama Met with Keystone Pipeline Protests

by Dan Fischer

This past week, Connecticut residents and students traveled as far as Washington DC and as close as New Britain to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would carry leak-prone tar sands oil from Canada into the US. Both demonstrations targeted President Obama, who has the legal authority to block the pipeline. Although Obama campaigned on promises of climate protection, his repeated embrace of fossil fuel infrastructure recently led Business Week to deem him president of “The Petro States of America.”

On Sunday March 2, students from over 80 colleges met in Washington DC and marched to the White House in a demonstration called “XL Dissent”. At the White House, many took part in a “human oil spill” and locked themselves to the gates. Police arrested some 398 people. Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman commented the protest “could be the largest youth sit-in on the environment in a generation.” Several Connecticut students and residents participated.

photo from Dissent XL

Cesar A. Chavez, a junior at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, told The Struggle, “I am here protesting the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because over the past few summers in Peru they’ve gotten really warm, and they’ve become unbearable. Some places in the country have become pretty much unlivable because there isn’t any water.”

Capitalism vs. the Climate, a Connecticut-based group of which I’m a member, endorsed and joined the demonstration’s Ecosocialist Contingent. The contingent received some frantically negative coverage in Forbes, a business news magazine that has famously called itself a “capitalist tool.” Forbes columnist David Blackmon wrote:

Good to see the EcoSocialist contingent proudly displaying its signage at the rally, given that ‘ecosocialism’ has long been the real goal behind the anti-energy movement all over the world. At long last, someone with a little intellectual honesty here.

Despite the condescending tone, he is correct to observe that a growing number of young people observe that adequately addressing climate change will require systemic social change.

Obama Comes to Connecticut

On Wednesday March 5, President Obama spoke at New Britain’s Central Connecticut State University about the minimum wage. Despite closed roads and traffic jams, a group of anti-Keystone XL protesters greeted him on the campus. “A rupture in the Keystone XL pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America¹s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 2 million people,” wrote protester Charles Button in an email. Button is a geography professor at the university. CCSU Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition hosted the demonstration.

photo from Charles Button

Although D.C. protests are very flashy and draw in new people, organizers have long said the heart of the campaign happens locally. The Ruckus Society’s Joshua Kahn Russell explained in 2012, “the strategic arc of the campaign was actually decentralized actions all over the country. Everywhere that Obama went, there were grassroots people bird-dogging him, people going to his evens, storming Obama for America offices”. In Connecticut, Capitalism vs. the Climate has organized several actions against the Keystone XL, including a die-in with other groups outside a tar sands investment conference in Hartford, a series of pickets at pipeline-financier TD Bank, and a banner drop in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade.

The campaign against the Keystone pipeline promises to escalate in the coming months. Over 86,000 people have signed a “pledge of resistance” indicating they will risk arrest if necessary to stop the pipeline’s completion. An alliance of indigenous groups has released a statement entitled “No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Lakota Lands”. It says, “We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline.”

Recently, activists have written a number of thoughtful critiques of the anti-Keystone movement, calling for groups to stand behind directly-impacted communities, and to not let the semi-apocalyptic “game over” language get out of hand. Below are a couple articles worth reflecting on.

The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation

Open Letter to the NO KXL Movement

CvC will Join ‘Ecosocialist Contingent’ at Anti-Keystone Protest

Capitalism vs. the Climate decided to endorse the Ecosocialist Contingent at the upcoming XL Dissent action in Washington D.C. against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Some of our members will attend XL Dissent, which will involve acts of civil disobedience at the White House on March 2nd. Specifically, demonstrators plan on performing a “human oil spill.” Organizers specify that the demonstration is a youth-led act in solidarity with communities most impacted by tar sands, including Alberta’s First Nations living near extraction, people living along the spill-prone pipeline’s route, and communities in Texas near major refineries.

The Ecosocialist Contingent, organized by the System Change Not Climate Change Coalition (SCNCC) “believes that the ecological crisis results from the capitalist system, which values profits for a global ruling elite over people and the planet.” They support “ecosocialism: a democratic society that’s based on fulfilling human needs and preserving earth’s ecology.” You can read more at their website.

To endorse the Ecosocialist Contingent, as either an individual or a group, email systemchangenotclimatechange@gmail.com  .

Picket TD Bank, Tar Sands Financier!

Check out these photos from our Middletown demo on Sept 21. 65 people turned out!
TD Middletown 2

TD Middletown 3

TD-Middletown1

On Saturdays, we will be picketing TD Bank locations around CT in protest of their investments in the Keystone XL pipeline.

Please check here for an updated schedule:

Saturday August 31 at 11 am: 2035 Broad St, Hartford, CT.
Saturday, September 14 at 11 am: 994 Chapel St, New Haven, CT.
Saturday, Sept 21 at 11 am: 911 Washington St, Middletown, CT.
Saturday, November 9 at 11 am: 994 Chapel St, New Haven, CT.

Want to organize a protest at a TD Bank near you? Contact us at capitalismvsclimate@lists.riseup.net!

TD Bank is one of the largest financial backers of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport the carbon-rich and leak-prone tar sands from Alberta. Tar sands spell “game over for the climate” and add 120 ppm CO2 to the atmosphere, according to NASA’s leading scientist James Hansen. Downstream from the extraction in Alberta, indigenous Fort Chipewyan communities experience water contamination, increases in rare cancers and other impacts which Mike Mecredi describes as “slow industrial genocide.” The pipeline threatens homes and ecosystems from Montana to Texas. People like the 78 year old Texan grandmother Eleanor Fairchild have been arrested for “trespassing” on their own land, trying to protect their homes from being destroyed. TD holds 24,391,713 shares in TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline. TD loaned $993 million to the pipeline project between 2007 and 2010.

Move your money and accounts to a local credit union. There are many credit union options in CT, which give back more to our local economy and are democratically controlled by their members. Enter your zip code at asmarterchoice.org to find a credit union close to you.

Good News – British Columbia Rejects the Pipeline

stop kxl

June 2.   A pipeline for exporting oil sands bitumen to Asia-bound tankers was dealt a severe blow on Friday when the province of British Columbia urged a federal review panel to reject the $6 billion plan. The proposal to build the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and its port is effectively Alberta’s backup plan in case the Obama administration turns down the Keystone XL, a pipeline that would link the oil sands with American refineries on the Gulf Coast. Several of the concerns raised by British Columbia in its rejection echo those of American environmentalists regarding Keystone XL. 

Article continues in New York Times

Also important article about climate refugees “The Impending Deluge”