Everyone's favorite tar sands pipeline, that infamous Keystone XL, is back in the news again. The LA Times reports that last week, Transcanada "quietly" began construction of the controversial project, which would eventually pipe extra-dirty bitumen from the Alberta tar sands across the United States to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The construction wasn't quiet for long, however—a crop of activists showed up at a number of the project construction sites, unfurling banners and forming human blockades to halt approaching bulldozers.Writer and activist Candice Bernd was on the scene; here, she describes the lead-up to the protest:
There was no official ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate construction at the pipeline’s staging area last week—in fact, TransCanada’s careful PR control and political pressures led to a virtual media blackout on the subject.
Instead, members of the Tar Sands Blockade a broad affiliation of activists opposing the project, traveled Thursday seven miles west of Paris, Texas, to christen the construction site in their own way: with a day of defiance, and the promise of rolling actions for as long as the pipeline plan proceeds.
“TransCanada is putting families that wanted nothing to do with this pipeline in harm’s way,” says blockade organizer Ron Seifert. “Since our leaders and representatives will do nothing to protect our friends and neighbors, the Tar Sands Blockade is calling for people everywhere to join us and defend our local communities from a multinational bully.”
Indeed, Transcanada has rolled over landowner's rights across Texas, condemning private property by claiming eminent domain and inspiring a number of homeowners to join ranks with environmentalists in protesting the pipeline.
As such, the folks you see in the photos in this post aren't just climate activists; they're Texans whose homes lie in the path of the 1,700 mile pipeline.
The Tar Sands Blockade says that it's planning to continue further protests and civil disobedience until the Keystone is scrapped—and given the success of the previous ant-pipeline protest movement last year, there's every reason to believe they'll do exactly that. Expect to see some more old-school environmental blockading, combined with the new school protest tactics that forced Obama's hand on KXL the first go 'round. But this time, with pipeline actually being laid, the stakes are even higher.