Long Battle Fought for Keystone XL Rejection

22809782906_62a3a2862e_zEnvironmentalists celebrated a major victory over Big Oil on Friday night at the White House after President Obama officially announced he would not approve the Northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,700-mile TransCanada project triggered a seven-year battle joined by scores of environmental groups who worked to defeat it.

Obama’s announcement on November 6 came four years to the day after 350.org, Sierra Club and many other organizations held a major protest against the pipeline at the White House.

The victory marks the first time people power of a grassroots movement leveraged political power to defeat a major fossil fuel project. It is likely to embolden green groups to step up efforts to convert energy policies to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Had the Keystone XL pipeline been built, it would have resulted in a daily capacity of 860,000 gallons of Alberta tar sands bitumen being transported to Gulf Coast refineries.

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What FERC’s Approval of Cove Point LNG Tells Us About the “Rubberstamp” Agency

14645003974_5c08995611_hOn September 29, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put its stamp of approval on the Cove Point LNG project, Dominion Resources’ bid to convert its liquefied natural gas import terminal on the Chesapeake Bay into an export facility. It’s the fourth approval FERC has granted to build an export facility, and the first on the Atlantic Coast. The first three are located on the Gulf Coast.

Why is Cove Point important? Some have been calling it “the next Keystone XL.” What the Keystone XL pipeline is to the Alberta tar sands, Cove Point is to the Marcellus Shale, a porous rock formation harboring as much as 500 tcf of methane gas. If constructed, the Keystone XL would be a major conduit of dirty bitumen from the tar sands, and consequently it’s become the rallying call for opposition against extraction of the tar sands. Likewise, if Cove Point is built, it would be the conduit for natural gas obtained by fracking the Marcellus Shale to be delivered to Asia. Among the export terminals approved by the Department of Energy and in line for approval by FERC, Cove Point has become the rallying cry for opposition against liquefied natural gas exports. (In July, more than a thousand people marched in Washington, DC against Cove Point and LNG exports.) LNG exports are intimately connected with the extreme method of fossil fuel extraction called hydraulic fracking, because exporting to Asian markets would make fracking more profitable and thereby incentivize more drilling.

FERC’s permitting of Cove Point is a big regulatory hurdle, the biggest among many state and local permits it had to obtain after the Department of Energy said it was okay for Dominion to export. But it’s not a surprise. When I say FERC put its stamp of approval on Cove Point LNG, what I really mean is that FERC applied its rubberstamp of approval. FERC is responsible for reviewing proposals for interstate natural gas pipelines and LNG terminals (up to this point, only import terminals). Among the all the major projects submitted to FERC, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that was turned down. FERC’s nickname—the Federal Energy Rubberstamp Commission—is well-earned.

In my opinion, however, FERC is even more than a rubberstamp—it’s the gas industry’s best friend. Understanding that the game is rigged and how the game is rigged is important if we’re going to contest the coming wave of infrastructure associated with the fracking boom. Continue reading

Faith leaders arrested, activists storm Valero Corp as Keystone XL protests heat up in Washington, DC

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Matt Kirkland protests in front of Valero Corporation

by John Zangas and Anne Meador

A week of protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington, DC continued Thursday with civil disobedience at the White House and visits to pipeline profiteers.

Fifteen participants in the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC) were arrested for blocking the sidewalk in front of the White House. Religious leaders called the Keystone XL Pipeline “a grave threat to humanity” and described their moral obligation to stand up against it.

Unitarian minister Terry Ellen said, “The Keystone, as you know, is the fuse to the accelerant that will jettison our planet beyond the point of no repair… We are all moving toward a radically new future. We are all part of a serious challenge against the entrenched power and concentrated wealth of our land.” [VIDEO: Interview with Terry Ellen]

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As police arrested interfaith leaders in front of the White House, a separate protest kicked off from the Canadian Embassy just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue. They marched toward a TD Bank branch in Chinatown, chanting, “Jobs at the Keystone? No, let’s get it. There are no jobs on a dead planet!”

Protestors then stormed the lobby of energy company Valero Corporation, a major investor in the Keystone XL Pipeline. Valero stands to receive and refine more oil from the pipeline than any other company.

Police and security officers scuffled with protestors, and five were arrested after they refused to leave. [VIDEO]

Activists barricade TD Bank in Washington, DC to protest funding of Keystone XL Pipeline

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by Anne Meador and John Zangas

Environmentalists attempted to shut down a branch of TD Bank in Washington, DC early this morning to protest the bank’s funding of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Two activists chained themselves to a “bear trap”–a plastic container filled with concrete–in the ATM lobby, while another secured himself to the front door with a U-lock. TD Bank is a major bankroller of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline.

3Activists_TDBankThe action was in solidarity with a campaign aimed at keeping the Keystone XL Pipeline from going forward. The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would carry 900,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Hardisy, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas. Environmentalists claim that the tar sands oil and the pipeline which would transport it could be environmentally devastating.

About 50 police officers and several police vehicles arrived on the scene at TD Bank about 6 a.m. and cordoned off P Street. They drove press away from the bank and held up sheets to block the view of extricating the protestors. No one was injured while removing the locks and chains, nor was there property damage.

Police did not arrest or charge the protestors. A police officer on the scene said that TD Bank did not want to press charges, but TD Bank would not confirm this. The protestors were cleared out by the bank’s 8 a.m. opening time.

The activists who barricaded the bank–Kelly Canavan, Jason McGaughey and Eli Greer–and about ten supporting protestors were objecting to TD Bank’s role as a primary financier of Keystone XL and demanding that it divest from TransCanada Corporation. As of 2010, TD Bank held $1.6 billion of stock in TransCanada.

TDBank_BoltcutterIn response to this morning’s protest, TD Bank released a statement saying, “TD Bank supports responsible energy development. We employ rigorous due diligence in our financing and investing activities relating to energy production.”

Protestor Kelly Canavan said she is concerned about the environment and her son’s future. “The tar sands pose a serious threat to all of us,” she said. “We must do everything we can to stop tar sand production from continuing. TD Bank must be held accountable for their part [in] promoting toxic genocide.”

“TD Bank is a Canadian bank that claims to be the most convenient bank in America,” says Jason McGaughey, one of the protestors chained in the ATM lobby.

“[But] it’s not very convenient they’re paying to have our futures destroyed. It’s not very convenient they’re paying to have our health destroyed. It’s not very convenient they’re pursuing the further genocide and ethnocide against the indigenous people around this country. It’s not very convenient at all.”

Protests against the pipeline are coming to a climax as its development enters a critical phase. Following the release of an Environmental Impact Statement from the State Department, President Obama will soon make a decision whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline or stop the project. According to environmentalists, harvesting the “dirty” tar sands oil, potential leakage and spills, and the amount of carbon emissions from the oil produced could all negatively impact the environment.

VIDEO: Protestor Kelly Canavan describes her reasons for blockading the bank

Video streaming by Ustream

Red Lake Nation blockades pipeline

The Red Lake Nation claims that Enbridge Energy is trespassing on lands ceded to them in Minnesota by operating multiple pipelines without an easement. On February 28, they began occupying the land above the pipelines.

Twin Cities IndyMedia speculates that if the blockade lasts for three days, then “the flow of oil…will have to be shut down.”

The Enbridge pipeline transports tar sands bitumen extracted from Alberta, Canada. Red Lake Tribal Council has been trying to negotiate an easement settlement since 2011 and is still in negotiations.

Around the U.S., solidarity with Forward on Climate

There were several rallies and actions in solidarity with Forward on Climate in Washington, DC today. Here are scenes from some of them:

SAN FRANCISCO

Photo by @sophiehh14
Photo by @sophiehh14

SAN RAPHAEL, CA

Photo by @anirvan
Photo by @anirvan

SEATTLE

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Photo by @Pragmactvisti

LOS ANGELES

Photo by @renegadecop
Photo by @renegadecop

DENVER

Photo by @CO_BeyondCoal
Photo by @CO_BeyondCoal

SANTA FE

SantaFe_JenniferEsperanza

CHICAGO

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Photo by @daneyvilla

 

Exxon Hates Your Children

The “Exxon Hates Your Children” PSA produced by The Other 98% was scheduled to air during Tuesday night’s State of the Union coverage, but Exxon threatened Comcast with a cease and desist order at the last minute.

The Exxon Hates Your Children Drive-In (no cars required) in Stanton Park on Capitol Hill kicked off the Forward on Climate weekend. See highlights from the evening here.