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

MKirkland.jpg
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]

Lacy_arrest

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]

Advertisements

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

TD_Bank

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

Seattle_Pragmactivist99
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

Chicago_daneyvilla
Photo by @daneyvilla

 

The coming wave of immigration: Climate change refugees

Rising sea levels will flood Bangladesh–and its impoverished population. It’s already happening, creating a new class of climate change refugees:

Masud, 19, lives in Korail, Dhaka’s largest slum. Its roughly 70,000 residents dwell in the shadow of the affluent Gulshan neighbourhood, with its mansions, restaurants and western-style shopping centres.

Masud, her husband Mohammed, and their year-old daughter Karima share a one-room shanty that can be crossed in two strides. It is made of corrugated steel sheets held up by wooden poles. A bed takes up a large portion of the room and a battered TV sits in one corner. In another corner are Masud’s dishes. The kitchen, a cramped space with a couple of shelves, is in the back, about a metre from a toilet shared by two dozen other families.

It is not just the smell. Every monsoon, when the slum is overrun with rainwater, cholera and malaria outbreaks are common. Masud has to cook while standing in puddles of muck; nearby, excrement gets stuck in the overflowing drains. She says she almost gags.

“I don’t want to live like this … who wants to?” says Masud, a pretty woman with big eyes and a sad smile. But after her husband’s family farm and home in Barisal, in southern Bangladesh, were inhaled by a powerful cyclone in 2008, they had no choice.

She is a climate change refugee.

Climate change is expected to trigger a migration like no other.

Experts expect about 250 million people worldwide to move by 2050. Of those, 20 million to 30 million climate change refugees are expected to be in Bangladesh, likely the largest number from one place.

As extreme weather, floods and drought force them to flee their homes, most will head to the capital.
Dhaka is the fastest-growing megacity in the world; its population is about 17 million, up from 12 million in 2005 and six million in 1990. By 2025, the UN says the city will be home to more than 20 million people.

Fast-growing urban areas like Dhaka will bear the brunt of climate change-related disasters, particularly because so many of them are located in coastal zones. Dhaka, on the banks of the Buriganga River in the low-lying Ganges Delta, is prone to flooding during monsoons.
As much as 40 per cent of Dhaka’s population — almost seven million — lives in tiny hovels in slums, beside railway tracks, along riverbanks and even on swampy lowlands in the shadow of glittering hotels.

The International Organization for Migration says about 70 per cent of these slum dwellers have come to Dhaka because of climate-change adversity.

Keystone XL Pipeline: The fuse to a carbon bomb

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline
Photo by Shannon Ramos

What’s so important about the Keystone XL Pipeline? Why is it being called the fuse to a carbon bomb?

The key to Keystone XL is that it could transport almost exactly the amount of carbon needed to put us beyond the point of no return–when man-made climate change becomes irreversible.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is the conduit for the tar sands oil produced in the northwest regions of Canada. Fully harvested, the tar sands–besides having 12% higher carbon dioxide emissions than other sources of petroleum–would produce about one trillion metric tons of emissions.

Putting one trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere would produce a 2-degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures.

This just so happens to be the tipping point:

Two degrees [Celsius] is the maximum acceptable figure adopted by the European Union as a manageable level of warming, based on IPCC findings, beyond which it becomes unlikely that serious negative effects can be avoided.

The decision to develop tar sands and construct the Keystone XL Pipeline is a conscious decision to put ourselves beyond the tipping point. The oil from Canadian tar sands is a carbon bomb, and the Keystone XL Pipeline is the fuse. If the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline goes forward, we’ve knowingly lit the fuse.