Keystone Pipeline Actions Heating Up!

 Keystone Pipeline Actions Heating Up!

The CAN Steering Committee is very concerned about the shift in Senate power and the possibility that a Keystone XL construction bill could pass the Senate in January. As James Hansen has put it, a functioning KXL would be “game over for the climate”.  At our Nov 24 monthly meeting, we’ll have a breakout session to discuss and plan our response. Here’s background and details on potential actions:


With Republican leaders putting it at the top of their 2015 agenda, the Keystone XL pipeline is back in the spotlight. There are a few reasons to be hopeful. Pres. Obama recently made strong statements contradicting the claimed pipeline economic benefits, and Naomi Klein has called “now absurd” the argument that “Keystone’s impact will be negligible so why not build it.” Without Keystone, a big chunk of Alberta’s tar sands could stay in the ground since resistance is strong to the other routes and the tanking oil price has investors already cancelling tar sands projects. But we also know how much money’s at stake.  For example it’s been reported that the Koch Bros. stand to gain about $100 billion from these reserves, which are estimated to be as large as Saudi Arabia’s. The fight is just heating up.


The recent congressional votes were purely symbolic. There are two legal and procedural steps that must be completed before a legitimate Keystone decision will occur. First, the Nebraska Supreme Court rules whether or not the Nebraska Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over the current route. And the State Department has yet to complete its National Interest Assessment. But, with all the financial and political interests lining up, the pressures will be intense to approve the pipeline; and it will be up to us to stop it. Regardless of Pres. Obama’s recent statements, Keystone will become an appealing “bargaining chip” in 2015 as the Republican Congress works to eviscerate Obamacare and executive actions on immigration and coal plant regulation. He’ll need the strongest show of public support to cover his back, and we need to be prepared to repeatedly push him to veto Republican-passed Keystone XL approvals. As time passes this will become increasingly difficult as pro-Keystone amendments will be attached to must-pass bills like the budget.

Potential Actions

 Roughly speaking, there are two types of actions we need to consider: (1) civil disobedience aligned with the Credo Action Pledge of Resistance; and (2) actions that CAN generates, either by ourselves or in alliance with other organizations, that we can launch over the next few weeks while we prepare for civil disobedience.

 Credo Action Pledge of Resistance: Credo Action and Rainforest Action Network are coordinating nation-wide civil disobedience related to Keystone. As of today, almost 97,000 people across the country have signed the Credo “Keystone pledge of resistance” Nonviolent resistance is much more powerful and effective when people are trained and formed into affinity groups; and locally, through Molly Hale’s and John Berkowitz’s leadership, we have several dozen Pioneer Valley residents who’ve been trained. Through participative process, it was decided that the action should be blocking the entrance to the main branch of TD North in Springfield. TD North is the main funder for Keystone, and this location would get us the most media coverage. Over the next few weeks, CAN members will help to pull this network together and see how many more we can recruit and train.

Other Actions: The lines in the sand are being drawn quickly, and effective, savvy actions should be mobilized as soon as possible. There are many possibilities. Should we focus on educating the public? More dramatic actions like vigils or marches? And what should our targets be: Financial institutions supporting the pipeline? The State Department? President Obama? And should we coordinate closely with Boston-area groups through busing and carpools or focus more on local actions? If so, where? Springfield? Amherst? Northampton? The colleges? All of the above?

 As you can see, we have a lot to discuss and decide! So, please join us at the November 24th Climate Action NOW/350MASS meeting to find out more!