Report back from the Tar Sands Blockade
By Yolo Cascadia
About a week ago myself and three other Cascadians piled into a car and left our pacific northwestern home to travel the 2000 miles to Texas—the major hub of resistance to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. What we have found here is remarkable. The aptly named 'keystone' pipeline represents what is perhaps the decisive moment in the struggle against the fossil fuel industry. It hardly seems necessary to recite here the litany of objections to what has been termed "the most destructive environmental project on the planet". The old adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words' has never been truer than when viewing the tars sands from above. The struggle against the keystone pipeline is already a national issue, which is planetary in its implications. The pipeline has been the subject of continuous protest including actions following last summer's Earth First! Round River Rendezvous, indigenous resistance at the Unis'tot'en Action Camp, blockades on the Pine Ridge reservation, and the largest act of civil disobedience in recent memory during 350's sit-in outside the White House.
On the ground in Texas, something historic is happening. Everywhere we go people say the same thing: this has never happened in Texas before. What we have witnessed here is something I have never seen before in my ten years as an activist. It's a popular ground swell that is bringing together traditionally minded, conservative Texan folk with lefty environmentalists. Its deep green resistance come to life. It's the understanding that only sustained disruption at key nodes of infrastructure has a chance at diverting us from runaway climate change. Native Texans oppose the project because land is being seized and homes destroyed through eminent domain and because a foreign company (Transcanada) is bring in labor from outside rather than hiring locals. Environmentalists oppose the project because, in the words of NASA's leading climate scientist, the tar sands spell "game over for the planet's climate". Moreover their development means the destruction of the boreal forests, which are among the most intact remaining terrestrial ecosystem, and the destruction of ecosystems all along the pipeline. In the simplest terms it's a conflict between the big people and the little ones. A classic David and Goliath story. At stake is our sacred and living earth.
The significance of this campaign is hard to understate. Already it has launched several lockdowns and other direct actions to slow the process of construction. Moreover conditions here seem to be brewing the perfect flashpoint for the ignition of a national resistance movement against the fossil fuel industry. The combination of popular support, allies among grassroots environmental networks, and a timely and strategic issue may yet prove too much for Transcanada to handle.
Yet nothing is set in stone. It is not enough to passively support this effort. The outcome of this grand drama may be determined by the actions of those whose eyes grace this document. It may well depend on what you do. Today.