Tar Sands Activists & Former Obama Organizers Demand President Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Johannah Reimer for Tar Sands Action /CC BY 2.0

Anti-fracking and tar sands activists, many of them self-described as organizers for Barack Obama in his first presidential campaign, are taking the President to task over his campaign promises about ending the tyranny of fossil fuels.

Grouping together with demonstrators from Occupy Wall Street, the group hand delivered a stack of 500 petitions to the Obama For America offices, demanding that the President deny a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline -- the environmental impact assessment for which has been called into question after allegations of corruption and cronyism in the State Department -- as well as instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to vote no on permitting fracking in the Delaware River Basin.

The group was met by OFA's New York State field director Rob Diamond who, Tar Sands Action reports, gave "assurance that 'everyone from Chicago on down' hears our demands."

Johannah Reimer for Tar Sands Action /CC BY 2.0

Congress Members Question State Department Objectivity On Keystone XL
One day after the activist group delivered the petitions, 36 members of Congress sent letters to President Obama expressing deep concern about the way the State Department handled the environmental review of Keystone XL.

One of the letters, signed by Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon and senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders from Vermont, reads in part:

Recently-releases email communications between State Department officials and lobbyists for TransCanada regarding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline also raise serious concerns about the objectivity of the process. Rather than acting as fair arbiters of TransCanada's application to build a massive pipeline across environmentally sensitive areas of the United States, State Department officials appear to have acted as little more than cheerleaders for the company's bid. (New York Times)

Large Gap Between Obama's Promises & Action On Energy, Climate
Hearing demands and acting on them are obviously two different things, though, and it remains to be seen whether President Obama sufficiently feels the pressure both from the people who were in the past his grassroots supporters (and many begrudgingly may still be) and from portions of Congress to take a stand on both Keystone XL and fracking.

Should Obama not intervene to prevent Keystone XL going forward, when combined with his utter inability or seeming willingness to present a climate policy to the world back in 2009 that had any semblance of scientific credibility, it will be a failure not only of campaign promises, but it will be a major failure for the United States and the world more broadly.

Activists Will Encircle White House To Get Voices Heard
If you want to make your voice heard directly at the White House (well outside it at least), Tar Sands Action is organizing an event on November 6th, where:

We want to encircle the whole White House to ask President Obama to reject Keystone XL and live up to his promise to free us from the tyranny of oil. In doing so, we want to remind him of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. This is bigger than any one person - President or no - and we will carry on, with or without him.

We've never tried something this ambitious before, and we don't know if there are the thousands of people that it will take to encircle the White House. But if we can pull it off, it will be an unmistakable message. Also, we're not expecting any arrests at this action, which means that anyone and everyone is able to participate.

Back in August, hundreds of activists were arrested in two weeks of civil disobedience at the White House over Keystone XL. Among them were such high-profile environmental advocates as Bill McKibbem, NASA's Dr James Hansen, and Gus Speth, a former member of the Carter administration and head of the United Nations Development Programme, dean of Yale University's environment and forestry school, and now a professor at the Vermont Law School.

Tags: Activism | Barack Obama | Fracking | Occupy Wall Street | Pollution | Tar Sands