No, Actually, We Are The Rising Tide

cant stopSometimes our idols die hard.

This long time Marvel Comics true believer is finding Joss Whedon’s new TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a deal breaker after decades of love and devotion to Marvel Comics and Whedon’s fantasy world that’s given us Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But now, the other true love of my life, Rising Tide North America, is under attack by the real corporate super villains, Disney and ABC Studios, seeking to co-opt our name and brand for some ratings and commercial air time with Whedon’s new show.

Rising Tide vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Whedon’s new television series, premiering tonight on ABC, depicts a secret NSA/Dept. of Homeland Security style agency confronting a “looming new threat” called “The Rising Tide.” In this spinoff of the popular Avengers movie series, Rising Tide is a shadowy cyber-terror group similar to Anonymous. Their role in the show is to expose super humans, like the Hulk and Thor, and secret government agencies like S.H.I.E.L.D.

In our estimation, exposing governmental secrets and lies is a most worthy pastime and similar to what groups like WikiLeaks and Anonymous have done in real world. Unfortunately, the series plays to our mainstream culture’s fears around anarchists and radicals, and portrays the group as a threat to national security. Some reviews call the group “cyber-terrorists.” This is par for the course in a Hollywood that uses pop culture to turn government agents into heroes and seekers of truth, justice and ecological sanity into evildoers.

Some may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the big problem for Rising Tide North America is that Whedon’s show uses our name and a very similar logo to ours for his villains. In a most humiliating blow, at the end of the first episode, the lead Rising Tider, Skye, actually joins S.H.I.E.L.D. as an asset. So not only are we depicted as terrorists, but one of our own actually switches sides and joins the police state.

pdxWe are the REAL Rising Tide

Rising Tide is an all-volunteer international climate justice network challenging the root causes climate change.

Rising Tide originated in 2000 at the sixth United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) meeting at the Hague. It formed as direct action network forming an opposition to the talks were deeply influenced by corporate lobbyists, marginalizing representatives in the Global South and pushing carbon markets as a (false) solution to the climate crisis. Over 300 groups from both the Global South and Global North signed the Rising Tide statement in 2000. Since then Rising Tide network have grown and spread throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and North America.

In North America, we have over 50 active chapters, local contacts and allies in our network. Rising Tide North America formed in 2006 in the heart of Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, when climate and anti-extraction fighters with Mountain Justice and Earth First! decided it was time to make climate change an issue relevant to more than the D.C. Green non-profit industrial complex.

Our goals remain:

  • Bringing non-violent direct action into North American climate movements (something we think we’ve been successful at lately)
  • Work in solidarity with frontline communities directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction and climate change.
  • Challenge the false solutions to climate change. This includes “clean coal,” nuclear power, natural gas, overly-compromised non-profits based in Washington D.C. as well as market based mechanisms like carbon trading.

Currently, our network is waging campaigns from the coalfields of Alaska to Ed Abbey’s redrock wilderness in southern Utah to up and down the Keystone XL Pipeline route to Appalachia’s devastated mountains.

In effect, we are everywhere. And we are the real Rising Tide.

Join us in demanding that Disney stop co-opting our name and logo in their depiction of a shadowy cyber-terror group.

BREAKING: Mobile Residents March to Draw the Line on Tar Sands on Mobile Bay

PRESS RELEASE * For Immediate Release

Press Contacts: Joe Womack, Kim McCuiston, 251-298-7952,

Mobile Residents Draw the Line on Tar Sands on Mobile Bay
New Coalition Marches on GM&O Rail Terminal Protesting Tar Sands Tanker Shipments

MOBILE, ALABAMA, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2013, 10AM – As multiple new tar sands infrastructure proposals on Mobile’s waterfront reveal themselves, the anti-tar sands movement of greater Mobile has set its sights on the question of how tar sands is entering the community to begin with. Plans for an expanded tar sands unloading depot by the Canadian National Railway (CN) in partnership with Houston-based corporations Plains South Cap, American Tank & Vessel (AT&V) and ARC Terminal have outraged Mobile residents. Fed up with the lack of consultation and led by the newly-formed Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJACoalition), affected residents and supporters marched to GM&O Terminal to “Draw the Line” on tar sands in Mobile.

“I may be a resident of Africatown, but today I’m marching for all residents of Mobile and our efforts to stop Plains South Cap, CN and the rest from bringing tar sands into or around Mobile County. We really don’t appreciate the way that they’ve done their business,” explained Joe Womack, resident of the Africatown Historic District, the sight of intense opposition to the proposed tar sands projects. “It should’ve been above board and the community should’ve been brought in from the beginning.”

The tar sands train depot, as described in City of Mobile planning documents dating from October 4, 2012, will expand the existing CN railyard adjacent to GM&O Terminal and pipe tar sands under the Mobile River to ARC Terminal tar sands storage tanks on Blakeley Island, formerly operated by Gulf Coast Asphalt Company but acquired earlier this year by ARC in February.

Currently, tar sands are brought in via rail through rural southwestern Alabama communities over the Escatawpa River where trains have derailed twice in the last decade. The CN tar sands tanker cars then wind their way through the hearts of Saraland, Chickasaw, Prichard, and Africatown to the existing CN railyard near GM&O Terminal. To unloaded the cars into tanker trucks the tar sands slurry is taken to ARC Terminal’s Chickasaw depot, formerly Mobile Asphalt. From there, they travel yet again through the heart of Africatown across the Cochrane Africatown USA Bridge to ARC Terminal’s Blakeley Island tar sands storage facilities. The new tar sands depot near GM&O Terminal and the Plains South Cap pipeline under the Mobile River would shorten the circuit and allow for a dramatic increase in the volume of tar sands coming through Mobile for export.

Carrying colorful signs and banners reading “Environmental Justice For All,” “No Tar Sands In Mobile,” and “Africatown Not Tank Farm Town” while symbolically wearing blue and black, the marchers gathered in Cathedral Square before shoving off to the GM&O Terminal where tar sands tankers remain nearby until their unloading at ARC’s Saraland depot.

Foley, Alabama resident Kimberly McCuiston described the symbology of the black and blue color coordination, “We’ve already been deeply bruised by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The illnesses, the damage to our waterfront, those things still haven’t been addressed appropriately, and I’m sick of living in a dirty energy sacrifice zone. At this point, certain underrepresented communities like our neighbors in Africatown, Prichard, and Chickasaw are necessarily organizing like Selma in ’63 and I’m here to help. I’m not gonna sit idly by while environmental injustices and human rights abuses on the part of these tar sands corporations are perpetrated on my neighbors.”

Joe Womack agreed, “These projects are hazardous to the entire Gulf Coast, especially Africatown which has been repeatedly dumped on already. It’s time to clean Africatown up and stop making it a dumping ground for hazardous waste and materials in this section of the world.”

Just weeks ago, AT&V unexpectedly pulled their proposal for a massive 32-tank tar sands tank farm to be sighted in historic Africatown across the street from the Mobile County Training School, Alabama’s oldest primarily African-American Middle School. And last week saw a lower Alabama court rule against Plains South Cap corporation’s bid to illegally expropriate private property through eminent domain. That decision affirmed the right of Mobile Area Water & Sewage System to turn down the pipeline corporation’s plans to install a tar sands pipeline through greater Mobile’s primary source of fresh water, the Big Creek Lake watershed.

MEJACoalition’s march coincides with a National Call to Action called “Draw the Line” by the climate justice organization The day of action features scores of creative events across the country and the Gulf South, with large rallies planned in areas already affected by climate change and places at increased risk from climate chaos if strong action, such as limiting tar sands exploitation, is not taken. Other events focus primarily on the Presidential Permit required for the northern segment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which has faced unprecedented pressures from adversely affected nearby residents, tar sands refinery communities, landowners, and climate justice organizers alike.


MEJACoalition is the greater Mobile area’s first environmental justice organization.

Rising Tide Philly Targets TD Bank’s Cherry Hill Headquarters Over Investments in Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline

RT PhillyRising Tide Philly Targets TD Bank’s Cherry Hill Headquarters Over Investments in Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline

Local grassroots climate change group takes action against the largest funder of the Keystone XL pipeline and presses for a clean energy future.

Contact: Elias Schewel, Rising Tide Philly

Contact: / 267 918 9739

Cherry Hill, NJ – On August 20 at 9:00 AM, a group of citizens concerned about climate change’s effects on the Philadelphia region and on southern New Jersey will gather to peacefully protest in front of the TD Bank headquarters located at 1701 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  The protesters are pushing for TD Bank to stop its funding of tar sands petroleum extraction in Alberta, Canada, because of the threat this practice presents to the global climate and to First Nation peoples in Alberta.

TD Bank is also a major funder of the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring tar sands petroleum from Alberta to Texas to be refined and exported. “We want TD Bank to withdraw its funding from both the KXL pipeline and from tar sands extraction, now,” Rising Tide Philly organizer Kevin Starbard summed up the demands.

The Friday protest is organized in coordination with a simultaneous action of hundreds of activists mobilized by as part of the national Draw the Line weekend of action to hold President Obama accountable for his campaign promises on renewable energy.

The Rising Tide Philly protest in Cherry Hill was planned with help from citizens in Texas and Oklahoma who are fighting the pipeline as part of the Tar Sands Blockade.

Philadelphia resident Rachel Leone explained the importance of connecting TD Bank and Tar Sands extraction in the environmental movement: “Tar sands extraction is already poisoning the water supply of thousands of indigenous people in central Canada, in violation of multiple treaties, and we here in Philadelphia will continue to suffer the worsening effects of climate change, things like Superstorm Sandy, if dirty energy projects like tar sands extraction don’t stop.”

Over 69,000 people across the nation have signed CREDO’s Pledge of Resistance against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Tens of thousands more will attend nationwide Draw the Line protests meant to get the message to Obama that climate change is a major concern, and we will hold him to his campaign promises.  Until Obama’s State Department blocks the KXL Pipeline and until TD Bank divests from tar sands, Rising Tide Philly will continue to target TD Bank for their profiteering from climate disaster and genocide of indigenous people in Alberta.


Moving Beyond Keystone XL: Direct Action on Line 9

line 9Originally posted on Counterpunch

Moving Beyond Keystone XL: Direct Action on Line 9

By David Osborn

On the morning of June 20th a group of people walked onto the Canadian energy corporation Enbridge’s North Westover pumping station and occupied the facility. They called this blockade “Swamp Line 9”. The facility is part of what is called Line 9, a pipeline that moves oil west towards Sarnia and the refining facilities there. However, the industry has been engaged in an effort to slowly gain regulatory approval to reverse the pipeline, allowing it to carry tar sands oil east for refining or to the Atlantic coast for export. The pumping station for Line 9 had been shut down for work and remained shut down during the occupation as Enbridge employees were unable to access the site. The direct action effectively stopped all activity at the pumping station until June 26th when the Canadian authorities raided the occupation and arrested twenty people (you can support their legal fund here).

This action came after over a year of growing grassroots opposition to Line 9 and represents another escalation in the climate movement to address the failure of existing political institutions to deal with the climate crisis. It also has had the effect of continuing to raise the profile of the various efforts to move tar sands oil out of Alberta and engage people in Ontario about the issue. Here, outside of Hamilton in Ontario, much like in East Texas, Maine, Washington State, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and elsewhere communities are taking direct action to confront the root causes of the climate crisis.

In confronting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure we also resist the devastating ecological transformation that occurs in service to markets and profit. In this sense this action, like those taking place across North America and the world, also represent people resisting the transformation of their communities by capitalism, which fundamentally drives the climate crisis with its need for exponential growth, its utilitarian view of the natural world as human-centered “resources” and its value of profit above all else.

Line 9 and Tar Sands

Encapsulated within the story of Line 9 is a glimpse of the changing energy politics of North America. The pipeline was originally built in 1975 to transport crude oil from Western Canada to Montreal refineries. Around the turn of the millenium the direction of the pipeline changed to bring imported oil into the refinery infrastructure in Ontario. With oil production booming in both the United States and Canada, and particularly with the landlocked tar sands megaproject needing to bring its product to market, the industry has slowly been trying to get regulatory approval for reversing the flow in order to bring oil westward again.

In the United States oil imports are down significantly, after peaking in 2008, as domestic production booms and there are numerous efforts to begin exploring export of not only oil, but coal and natural gas. The reversal process around Line 9 follows a prior proposal, called the Trailbreaker project, by Enbridge during 2008-2010 to reverse the pipeline to export on the Atlantic coast. The fragmenting of the current reversal efforts has allowed for easier regulatory approval and is almost certainly the result of a strategic decision by industry.

Portland, Maine enters the story courtesy of Hitler’s U-boats and their relentless campaign against Allied infrastructure during the Second World War. Tankers bringing crude to Montreal were suffering losses in the exposed entry into the St. Lawrence river. Aiming to provide for a less exposed route for tankers a 236-mile pipeline from Portland to Montreal was completed in 1941 allowing fuel for the war machine to flow with a lesser chance of encountering a torpedo. The pipeline was expanded from an 18-inch to 24-inch diameter in 1965 and some seventy tankers make a port call at the import facility each year.

The only problem is that Canadian and American demand for imported oil is only shrinking and fossil fuel corporations have made huge investments in the landlocked tar sands megaproject in Alberta. Their profits are constrained by their inability to move their product to market, especially with the recent rejection of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline by the Province of British Columbia. The $6 billion dollar project would have the capacity to ship 525,000 barrels/day of tar sands oil to an export terminal on the coast of British Columbia. It also would cross numerous unceded First Nations’ territories and has mobilized enormous opposition. With BC having rejected the Enbridge proposal, the tar sands industry is facing larger setbacks to exporting tar sands through a region they once thought was a possibility. However, it should be emphasized that though having received a significant setback the project remains very much on the table with the final authority resting with the federal government.

To describe the development of the tar sands is almost beyond words and illustrates the extent to which capital is scraping the bottom of the barrel in its suicidal attempt to perpetuate growth and profit above life itself. With the first industrial attempts to exploit the tar sands in Alberta in 1967, efforts have ramped up as increasing oil prices (also reflecting the growing lack of easily accessible oil) have made the intensive process increasingly profitable. The process to get at tar sands, which are also slated to be exploited in Utah, is an extreme version of the similar extraction processes like fracking that are incredibly damaging in the increasingly desperate attempts to get at any fossil fuels remaining. To get at the tar sands, which are then processed into oil, the boreal forests of Canada are clear cut. These forests are some of the last intact and contiguous ecosystems in the world.

Two tons of the oil-containing bitumen, which produces only one barrel of oil, is gathered by massive machinery, washed with three barrels of water (which then become toxic polluted tailings), heated by natural gas (and soon proposed nuclear power plants) and out comes some of the dirtiest and most energy intensive energy ever produced. The result is an intensely polluted environment that has become toxic for the First Nation’s people that live there and devastated their communities. This comes on top of previous and ongoing displacement, the destruction of culture and other impacts that make this a clear continuation of the intergenerational trauma produced by colonialism.

The extent of the devastation underscores the extent to which capitalism is wreaking havoc on communities of life in all their forms. Humans, fish, trees and elk alike are inconsequential when the land that sustains them is seen only in terms of a human-centered resource and profit to be exploited. Huge swaths of Alberta have already been impacted as production from the tar sands has exploded to some 1.5 million barrels per day. And all of this oil needs to go somewhere. With a proposed expansion to 300,000 barrels/day and the full reversal of Line 9, this oil could be flowing to Portland, Maine filling tankers and corporate coffers. Unless we stop them.

The actions at the North Westover pumping station were taken in this context and to prevent the movement and export of tar sands oil. They also occurred as part of the continued growth of grassroots opposition to the Line 9 reversal. In May of 2012 there was a disruption organized at a meeting of the National Energy Board, which was reviewing the first proposed reversal by Enbridge. This was one of the earliest signs of community-based, grassroots opposition that went beyond the moderate engagement by NGOs that had occurred up until that point. Earlier this year, organizers in Hamilton blockaded Highway 6 where Line 9 crosses it and shut down the freeway for 90 minutes in recognition of the average number of reportable spills that Enbridge has each year in North America.

Enbridge, anticipating the escalating opposition donated over $44,000 to the Hamilton police, which created the occasion for further actions to mark the increasingly blurred line between the state and corporations. And recently an Ontario conference in Sarnia at the west end of Line 9 about tar sands expansion was disrupted with a young Aamjiwnaang First Nations woman inside unveiling a banner that read “you are killing my generation” while people outside banged on windows and used a siren that was similar to the emergency sirens used in Sarnia to note chemical spills or gaseous escapes.

The seven day occupation provided an important escalation of action against Line 9. It also provides for important reflections about organizing within a climate justice framework, which organizers of the action have been engaging. In a June 30th post following the end of the occupation the organizers made a post titled “Replicating Colonialism in the Struggle Against Line 9”. In it they reflected on criticism about the lack of communication and consultation with the Six Nations of the Grand River despite the relationships they had with members of that community. This particular case provides important insights applicable outside of this specific example regarding relationships often pursued by settler organizations with the indigenous people on whose land they organize or who are impacted by a given project.

With the Westover occupation we can see the difficulties inherent in transitioning from a place of simply having relationships to a form of relationship in which we are deeply and consistently engaged in organizing work and within which we take leadership from the community with whom the relationship has been formed. There is important and complex work needed in developing how groups can work in solidarity with impacted communities, take leadership from those communities and at the same time develop their own campaigns which foster new leadership within their group.

In all of this it is important for us to engage the climate crisis from understandings about social justice, the uneven impacts of the crisis and the the systems of oppression and domination that so define our societies. We must deeply engage what it looks like to work appropriately with impacted communities and negotiate this depending on our own social locations. Thinking about how we are impacted by the climate crisis and how we might align that position with other communities for collective liberation is an essential and important approach.

Additionally, it is critical for us to be reflective about our actions, to acknowledge our mistakes and to start from a place of constructive engagement so that we can move forward and continue to ground our organizing in an anti-oppression framework. In their post-action reflections the organizers of the occupation at the North Westover pumping station have done important work in this direction. With this approach our organizing around the climate crisis not only opposes destructive practices but also begins to constitute new, liberatory forms of social relations that can be the basis for even greater social transformations beyond the climate.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

The climate movement in the United States has focused much of its resources – driven largely by mainstream environmental groups – on the Keystone XL pipeline. They have staked this out as the fight to have and have claimed its construction would be “game over for the climate”. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is clearly important as will be discussed later, but this strategy has been highly problematic. At full capacity the Keystone XL pipeline would move 830,000 barrels/day of tar sands oil to refineries and export facilities on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The existing Keystone pipeline system already moves 590,000 barrels/day. But Keystone XL isn’t the only way tar sands oil are proposed to be moved, nor is oil or even tar sands oil the only driver of climate change.

In addition to Line 9 and other tar sands pipelines there is a massive attempt to move the rapidly growing energy production of Canada and the United States abroad. With the advent of fracking technology and the marketability of tar sands these two nations are in the midst of an energy boom. The corporations that profit from these catastrophic developments want to move towards energy-exporting, petro-states, particularly as regulation, expansion to renewables and energy saving initiatives begin to limit domestic consumption.

In the northwestern part of the continent there is an extraordinary push to move not only tar sands oil but also coal, fracked oil and gas. With more than 15 coal, oil and gas export terminals proposed in the region it is emerging as a frontline in the push to move these fossil fuels abroad. Canadian environmental groups have had their own narrow focus on tar sands and similar to Keystone have largely targeted the Northern Gateway pipeline. However, the coal and gas export proposals in British Columbia have huge climate consequences. And despite the rejection of the pipeline, and perhaps because of it, the is a huge push to move oil by rail including a massive 380,000 oil terminal in Vancouver, WA.

Though ostensibly for Bakken shale oil, it has been made clear by the Port Commissioners reviewing the proposal that it should be prepared for tar sands oil spills and mitigation. The combined impact of these NW export projects alone would be three times that of Keystone XL. The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has less attention than the Northern Gateway pipeline did in regional Canadian climate politics, would move 890,000 barrels/day of tar sands to export facilities in British Columbia and oil refineries in Washington State. The Pacific Trails Pipeline has also had much less attention than Northern Gateway even though it would blaze a trail through the same region and along the same route. This pipeline would transport fracked gas and would pave the way for a renewed proposal of the recently rejected Northern Gateway Pipeline given its approval by the state and the fact that it follows the same right of way. If built Enbridge could argue that the clearcutting and service roads are already in place make for “less” impacts during construction. However, this pipeline is not going unchallenged and the Unis’tot’en have been resisting the pipeline including ejecting industry surveyors from their land and building a camp directly in the path of the pipeline.

No one pipeline is “game over for the climate” and focusing too narrowly prevents movement building across fossil fuel-type and region. In all of our work we need to broadly engage fossil fuels and the climate not only the specifics of a given project that we are opposing, whether it be fracking wells in Western Pennsylvania, a coal export terminal on the Columbia river, mountaintop removal in Appalachia or the Westover Pumping Station in Ontario. This way we can be sure to expand engagement beyond the NIMBY-orientation that political activation can often, or at least initially take, and move to broad-based systemic involvement to address the climate crisis and its roots in capitalism.

It is essential that individuals that enter a given struggle over a pipeline, fracking well or terminal over time come to see this not as a local land or pollution issue, but rather as a global climate issue. Then whatever the outcome of their local campaign they will remain engaged as part of a climate movement, rather than celebrating and going home. This is all the more important as we may lose big fights, including a potential loss with Keystone XL, and if we have mobilized people on the basis that this is the fight, we risk disengagement and burnout.

The Game is Rigged

The occupation of the Westover Pumping Station is reflective of a continuing shift in strategies and understandings of social change by the climate movement. It is also reflective of the increasing realization, particularly of late by more liberal participants in the climate movement, that the game is rigged. Politicians are bought off, they are owned by the fossil fuel corporations that we organize against and the existing political institutions are not up to addressing the climate crisis. In the United States oil and gas corporations dumped $ 150 million dollars into the coffers of candidates of both parties. This can be scary, particularly to the extent that we view these institutions and public policy as the only place in which social change can happen.

Luckily for us, the climate and the global communities already impacted by these monumental shifts this is not how social change happens. Social change happens when individuals acting together with others realize they can shape the world in which they live, that they have agency and power. Social change happens when we develop a critical consciousness about social relations and their fundamentally mutable and historically-specific nature. Direct action catalyzes this dual consciousness and is a vehicle for transformative social change.

Over the last years we have seen a huge shift towards communities taking control and taking action against the fossil fuel infrastructure that imperils their communities and the climate. This follows the strategy of historic social movements that did not focus their energy on Washington DC and instead understood that power resided and was built elsewhere. Recently the Idle No More movement has provided numerous examples of incredible action including the Aamjiwnaang blockade a of CN Railway line transporting toxic chemical into their community over twelve days in December and January. The blockade kept 420 cars per day out of the valley, which includes a series of petro-chemical facilities (i.e. chemical plants, oil refineries, rubber plants, etc.). In the fall of 2012 the Tar Sands Blockade, supported in part by Rising Tide North Texas, began in response to the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

With dozens of actions the blockade catalyzed thousands across the country and expanded to the north with Great Plains Tar Sand Resistance which recently shut down the construction of a pumping station near Seminole, Oklahoma. In British Columbia First Nations communities were instrumental in the setback of the Northern Gateway Pipeline and Wet’suwet’en peoples continue to take action against fossil fuel expansion with the Unist’ot’en camp, which is digging in along the proposed Pacific Trails natural gas pipeline. Also in the Northwest there have been two train blockades targeting existing and proposed coal export terminals and recently a large action and banner drop on the Columbia river that signified the region’s preparedness to engage in further direct action if any of the proposals move forward . And in Appalachia communities continue to resist mountaintop removal such as by blockading the road leading to Alpha Natural Resources, which is deeply involved in the highly destructive practice.

This is the grassroots swell of community power that has moved even the big NGOs such as the Sierra Club to take symbolic arrestable action, breaking from a 120-year ban on civil disobedience. And these are but a few examples of the many direct actions that have occurred over the last year. It is only with the inclusion of this kind of action as part of a diversity of tactics that we can address the climate crisis. Targeting politicians in this context is a losing strategy for the type of transformational change needed and fundamentally misunderstands how social change happens and where power can be built, particularly in our corrupted political institutions.

In a similar vein one might ask if it was legal strategies by large NGOs and the Supreme Court that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act recently in the United States and legalized gay marriage in many places. On the contrary all the court did was recognize and institutionalize the social change that had already happened among millions of individuals in communities across the United States through diverse organizing work, including direct action, over the course of decades. Through community-based organizing and direct action we are able to find where power truly resides, in our communities, and actualize that power to build a broad-based climate justice movement. It is only once this has occurred that existing political institutions will move to address the climate crisis. And should they be unwilling or unable to do so at that point we will have begun to build the type of movements capable of replacing them.

If They Can’t Ship It, They Can’t Sell It.

The boom of fossil fuel extraction in North America spells disaster for the climate and our communities. The petro-state, exporting dreams of fossil fuel CEOs must be stopped. The recent focus on transportation infrastructure and the circulatory flows of fossil fuels provide an excellent place for intervention and action. The nature and location of fossil fuel extraction means it must be moved to places of consumption and increasing export to markets abroad. And if they can’t move it, they can’t sell it. And if they can’t sell it, then it has to stay in ground.

This is the only moral place for fossil fuels to be in the moment in which we live. All new fossil fuel extraction must immediately stop if we want any chance of a habitable climate and a livable future. From that point we’ll need a just transition that includes an immediate and rapid reduction of existing fossil fuel use and extraction. In this movement actions such as those that occurred at the Westover Pumping Station are critical. It will be communities, taking direct action together, that will create the groundswell needed for advancing a just and sustainable future.

David Osborn is climate organizer working with Portland Rising Tide and Rising Tide North America. He is also a faculty member at Portland State University. He can be reached at

Line 9 and Westover Pumping Station Occupation

Swamp Line 9 –

Hamilton Line 9 –

Peak – Line 9 –

Against the Reversal –

Stopping Line 9 –

Video about Line 9 –

Tars Sands and Associated Pipelines

Yinka Dene Alliance Against BC Tar Sands Pipelines –

Tar Sands Free NE –

Blocking the Arteries of the Tar Sands –

Tar Sands Emissions and US-Canadian Militarization –

Northwest Export Terminals

Rising Tide Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories –

Portland Rising Tide –

Sightline Report: NW Fossil Fuel Exports –

Mountaintop Removal

Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival –

Coal River Mountain Watch –

Mountain Justice –

Appalachian Voices –

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition –

Keeper of the Mountains –


Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective –

Stop the Frack Attack –

Sightline Report: The NW Pipeline by Rail –

Marcellus Shale Earth First! –