Getting Ready for Keystone Resistance Actions

Prep Meeting This Saturday: With the potential veto override and State Department approval possibly occurring over the next two weeks, we need to get our local actions prepared this week. If you want to join us in nonviolent direct action, please come to the Prep meeting this coming Saturday, February 7, from 1-4:30pm, at the Amherst Unitarian Church. There are a lot of details to cover so that we can have a strong impact and for everyone to be safe. The Agenda:

1:00 – 2:30TD North Action Details (assembly point, what to expect after arrest, etc. Will also cover the rally and march that will precede the TD North Action.)
2:30 – 3:00Principles (e.g. committing to the safety of all participants and the surrounding community, etc.)
3:00 – 3:45Support Roles (Media, Jail Support, Police Liaison, etc.)
3:45 – 4:15Role Play (Running through several possible police and crowd-response scenarios)
4:15 – 4:30Close

Update on National Keystone Pledge of Resistance: Several Climate Action Now members participated in a national conference call on Feb 2. Pledge of Resistance organizers began by saying they were “hoping for the best [President rejecting the Pipeline once and for all], but preparing for the worst.” They mentioned four scenarios they are planning for: Presidential approval; Rejection; Veto override; and No Decision. They are updating the Pledge and will have more frequent communications over next few weeks. Other key points:

  • They can’t yet set a specific date for national actions.
  • Once the date is set, national actions will likely be rolled out over a week or more.
  • Pres. Obama will likely not announce a decision that goes against a publicly released State Department National Interest Determination [NID – this is the report we’re waiting for].
  • Much more likely, it will be orchestrated so that any differences are reconciled before public announcements [although there could be leaks.]
  • No timeline or deadline has been set for the actual NID release.
  • The national organizers are more focused on the State Department than Congress [probably because they are confident the President will veto the bill, and the Draft NID will hit his desk before Congress has a chance to tie Keystone to a larger bill that will be hard to veto.]

Breaking News: EPA Comments Released! On February 3, NRDC and Bold Nebraska released an email praising the EPA comments and provided a link to them. These two leading Keystone resistance organizations think the comments pave the way for Pres. Obama to reject the pipeline. Quote from Bold Nebraska: “It is reassuring the EPA stands with farmers and ranchers who know the Sandhills are still crossed by this risky pipeline and that alternative routes were not given enough serious consideration. America is diversifying our energy sources with renewables and Keystone XL continues to be a step backwards and simply does not make sense given low oil prices and the high carbon content of tarsands.” -Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska. And from NRDC: “The EPA’s assessment is spot-on. There should be no more doubt that President Obama must reject the proposed pipeline once and for all. If built, it would transport Canadian tar sands oil – the dirtiest fuel on the planet – through America’s heartland, only to be refined and then shipped abroad. The pipeline would threaten our waters, our lands and turbo-charge climate pollution. It’s absolutely not in our national interest.” -Danielle Droitsch, NRDC.

However, if you can stand a bit of bureaucratic torture, open the 3-page letter and see what you think. You might conclude that Bold Nebraska and NRDC are indulging in a bit of “spin” to help the media interpret the letter the way they want it interpreted. Yes, there is some good stuff in the EPA report. But also, some not-so-good stuff. Example: the first part of the letter could be read as saying: “well, OK, there may be spills, but State Dept., you’ve done a good job to say there should be mitigation strategies, so, oh well, let’s go ahead and build Keystone and then deal with the spills when they happen.”

Some of the “good stuff” in the letter:

  1. EPA praises the State Department for concluding that “until ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of oil sands are more successful and widespread, the Final [report] makes clear that, compared to reference crudes, development of oil sands crude represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”
  2. EPA shows how current low oil prices pokes a big hole in the previous State Dept argument that “go ahead and build Keystone because if you don’t, the oil will get transported anyway.”

So – NRDC and Bold Nebraska are familiar with bureaucratic reports and it’s quite possible that in that context, the EPA comments DO pave the way for rejection. Sure hope so! Could also be, from a cynical viewpoint, that they also give enough wiggle room to support approving the pipeline. What do you think?