The Time Has Come: A Call to Action Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Originally posted on

The Time Has Come: A Call to Action

By Ben Kessler

By signing up to take action at, you joined thousands of others in taking a courageous stand against the dark tide of fossil fuels that threatens our life on this planet.  All of us have different stories that lead us to this place, but we share in being inspired, hopeful, and determined to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

Now, it is time for our stories to join together and bend the arc of history towards a future without tar sands.  We are issuing a call – starting this September, your courage is needed in Texas.  The path ahead requires great courage. The odds are stacked against us; money is overwhelmingly tipped in TransCanada’s favor. But we can win – we plan to win.

As we recently announced, construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL, running through Oklahoma and Texas, has begun. Our task is clear: through peaceful and sustained direct action, we are going to bring construction to a halt – permanently. Of some things we can be sure: It will be difficult. It will be hot. Many of us will be arrested. Our resolve will be tested and our commitment strained. The government and the corporations know this, and they will try to exploit it; they are determined to see us fail. What they aren’t equipped to deal with is our joy, our resolve and our passion. No force on Earth can make us forget what is at stake. No violence, no repression, no method at their disposal can extinguish our belief that the future of life on Earth depends on us uniting to put an end to the tyranny of oil.

Let’s be clear about what is at stake. The Alberta Tar Sands is a reservoir of extreme fossil fuels vast enough to single-handedly spell death for the climate, if we are foolish enough to extract and burn it. The nearly 2000-mile path of the Keystone XL pipeline, Big Oil’s tar sands-transporting monstrosity, will create a permanent environmental disaster zone, bringing ruin to countless communities and threatening the health and water supply of millions. The carbon contained in this filthy resource will rocket us past all meaningful tipping points, sending our atmosphere into a catastrophic spiral of warming. Ice caps will melt and our temperate plains will turn to deserts as our food supply cooks and half of the species on this Earth fade into the eternal sleep of extinction.

This simply will not stand. The situation is too dire to wait for political or economic solutions.  When you join the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, be assured that you are joining a movement that intends to win. We believe the time for symbolic arrests to prove a point has passed, and our strategy reflects this belief. With wood and concrete, stone and water, steel and flesh, we will pit our bodies and our spirits against the engines of destruction. One day at a time, we will mire TransCanada in a struggle that will give new meaning to the term “sustained direct action”.  Nothing less can accomplish our goal.

Let’s face it, the environmental movement has been losing. We have been losing because we refuse to be honest with ourselves. Small campaigns, small goals, and small actions aren’t enough. Community organizing to resist fossil fuels will always serve as the foundation for our movement. But if we are to defeat the biggest and most destructive energy projects, we are going to have to find a way past the failing status quo. Tar Sands Action set a new precedent for civil disobedience actions in this movement. It had the right idea, the right vision, but a flawed political analysis. Now we know that the corporations won’t stop unless we make them stop.

In 2011, political prisoner Tim DeChristopher shared his vision of ending Mountaintop Removal with a massive, rolling wave of mine site occupations. It is clear that a similar effort will be required to bring down the KXL. We know that Texas is a long journey for some, and that the privilege of leaving work isn’t available to everyone. We want you to come because this is not just another action. If we succeed, we will redefine the fight for a livable future in this country.  Following in the footsteps of the largest climate civil disobedience actions in decades, there can be no doubt that it is time for the largest disruption of fossil fuel business as usual.

With your participation, Tar Sands Blockade will turn the tide against TransCanada, and make other fossil fuel giants think twice before trying to trample the dignity, health, and autonomy of our communities and ecosystems. We can’t do it without you.

This is a pivotal moment in history, and it is unlikely that there has ever been a more important fight in the history of our species. Our actions right now will determine whether our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and the countless generations to come, long after we have turned to dust, have a living and healthy planet to thrive on. We recognize the gravity of the situation. We understand the magnitude of the challenge we face. We embrace the courage we must summon. We acknowledge the sacrifices that must be made. We are ready. We ask only that you join us.

Coal Export Action Media: Determined Anti-Coal Activists Occupy Montana Capitol

Determined Anti-Coal Activists Occupy Montana Capitol

Day one: Week of protest actions planned to halt coal exports

HELENA—In a bold action against coal exports, today 100 chanting climate activists marched inside Montana’s Capitol to deliver letters and launch an eight-day protest to prevent coal mining and international coal exports from Montana’s Powder River Basin. After a rally that featured Montana author and poet, Rick Bass, the group marched into the Capitol and announced plans to occupy the public space to draw attention to the issue.

The Coal Export Action protests, sponsored by the Montana-based Blue Skies Campaign, will stretch from today until August 20 and end with a Citizens’ Land Board meeting. The group intends to prevent the Montana Land Board from offering final approval to mine Otter Creek coal tracts, which would require the construction of the Tongue River Railroad (Tongue River 1) and prepare the region for further coal extraction. Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) expects a permit application this month from Arch Coal, leaseholder for the Otter Creek tracts, near Ashland.

“Today we are here to demonstrate mass citizen opposition to big coal corporations’ dirty plan to export millions of tons of Powder River basin coal each year to the international energy market,” said Lowell Chandler, a construction worker and volunteer with Blue Skies Campaign. “We’re here to pressure the state Land Board to stand with us against these massive coal export proposals.”

The economic, health and environmental impacts of coal exports from Montana have been the subject of recent controversy across the west, as new international terminals in Oregon and Washington would have to be built to accommodate the global energy trading scheme. As coal-fired power plants in the United States continue to be retired by the dozens each year, the demand for coal in the U.S. is in decline. Major coal companies like Arch Coal have indicated intentions to develop future markets in China, far outside of U.S. environmental regulations.

“As Montanan’s we have to ask ourselves what the future holds for the Last Best Place. We’ve already gone down the path of blind resource extraction, just look at Butte,” said Chandler. “We don’t want to be an Asian coal colony so the biggest coal companies in the world can reap massive profits.”

“We are confident that once the full environmental, health and long-term economic effects of coal exports are assessed, the negatives will far outweigh the positives,” said Nick Engelfried, an organizer with the Blue Skies Campaign. “Some Land Board members have voiced their support for the coal export developments before this review process has even began.”

The bold actions in Helena this week have attracted the support of several international rights groups, including, Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and Greenpeace. The groups understand that new coal mining operations in the Powder River Basin could open the floodgates to massive coal exports, which threaten water, public health, and climate stability.

“There are a few crucial chokepoints on this planet, where we have some cance of staunching the endless flow of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Bill McKibben, founder of  “And on that list, none may be more important than Montana.”

Each of the eight days of action will highlight and inform the public by focusing on individual issue areas, spanning from regional economic impacts to public process and alternatives to coal energy for the future.

For more details, please contact Kerul Dyer at or call (415) 866-0005.



Coal Export Action: Montana Land Board Flees from Public Scrutiny, Coal Export Action More Important than Ever

Land Board Flees from Public Scrutiny, Coal Export Action More Important than Ever

Reposted from

When making decisions that affect thousands of constituents, public officials have a responsibility not only to be transparent, but to listen to and actively encourage public input.  This week the Montana Land Board failed in this responsibility, casting doubt on how the Board will handle decisions about the Otter Creek coal export mine.

Maybe it’s just that the Land Board’s got wind of the mass peaceful protests against coal exports planned for later this month.  On Monday, with only four days’ advance notice, the Board announced their August meeting is being re-scheduled from August 20th to Friday, August 3rd.  It looks an awful lot like the Board’s trying to avoid holding their meeting during the Coal Export Action, when they know their actions related to coal mining will be subject to heightened public scrutiny.

Join the Coal Export Action, and hold the Land Board accountable for their latest backhanded move.

This isn’t in keeping with good governance.  Montana’s state code requires “adequate notice” be given to “assist public participation before a final agency action is taken that is of significant interest to the public.”  The Land Board hasn’t violated the letter of the law – the  code doesn’t specify what “adequate notice” means – but re-scheduling a meeting date posted months in advance, with only four days’ notice, is hardly in keeping with a spirit of encouraging public input.

The Coal Export Action, of course, is now more important than ever.  When a public process is rigged against the public, we must turn to massive, peaceful protest to get the attention of decision-makers.  Fortunately, it’s just this type of large-scale direct action that’s planned for the Coal Export Action this month.  You can help by joining us.

In the past, Land Board members ignored hundreds of Montanans who submitted comments, turned out to hearings, and signed petitions opposing the Otter Creek Mine.  Now they appear to be trying to minimize the opportunity for public input.  But starting August 13th, our sit-in in the Capitol rotunda, between the offices of Land Board members Governor Brian Schweitzer and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, will make our demand for a clean energy future free of coal impossible to ignore any longer.

Since the Land Board has moved their August meeting date to the 3rd, the August 20th meeting – which would have fallen right at the end of the Coal Export Action – will no longer take place.  That won’t stop Arch Coal from moving forward with plans to submit its mining application, which it’s expected to do late this summer.  And it won’t stop us coming to the Capitol to shine a light on a decision-making process that favors Big Coal over Montana communities.

Indeed, this isn’t just about coal anymore: it’s about holding government bodies accountable when they fail to practice good government.  You can help us succeed.  Join us at the Coal Export Action.

August Newsletter: Mountaintop Removal, Tar Sands, Fracking & Coal Export Actions

The Rising Tide North America Newsletter is back! Please click here to submit content for next month’s newsletter

“Mountain Mobilization” Shuts Down Logan County Strip Mine

More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down following the Mountain Mobilization. Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.” In total twenty people were arrested. Appalachian communities, from union miners to the anti-strip mining activists of the 1960s, have a proud history of confronting the coal industry and demanding an end to its exploitive practices with direct civil disobedience. R.A.M.P.S. and other campaigns have returned to this tradition to eliminate strip mining once and for all.

MORE INFO: RAMPS Campaign website

Urgent Update! Donate: Get Anti-MTR Activists Out of Jail!

Hobet MTR Disobedience

Our friends are in trouble. On Saturday (see above), over 50 people trespassed onto the the Hobet mountaintop removal mine, the largest surface mine in the United States, in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. 20 of them were arrested and thrown in jail with $25,000 bail each.

Among those taken into custody was 20-year old Dustin Steele, the son and grandson of West Virginia coal miners, was arrested, beaten by police, badly injured, and was outrageously refused hospital care. Luckily, Dustin has been released, but 19 other arrestees remain locked up.  Help fund their legal defense!

Donate HERE

Keystone Convergence for Tar Sands Blockade

Tar Sands Blockade

This past weekend over 60 climate activists, landowners, students and people from all over Texas, Oklahoma and beyond converged with Rising Tide North Texas and the Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas to organize and prepare for upcoming blockade actions around the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline. Trainers prepared people to take action and wage campaigns with direct action, media and organizing skills. Construction begins on Aug. 1, campaign actions are being planned all over Texas and Oklahoma. Join Rising Tide North Texas as they prepare to stop the pipeline.

MORE INFO: Tar Sands Blockade

EF! Action Shuts Down Fracking Drill Operation

EF! Frack Blockade

Nearly 100 Earth First! activists, friends and allies forced a 70-foot-tall EQT hydrofracking drill rig to suspend operations for 12 hours on July 8th in Pennsylvania’s Moshannon State Forest. This is the first time that protesters have shut down a hydrofrack drilling operation in the US. A tree sitter hung above the access road, with their anchor ropes blocking it. A second person was also in a tree to support the sitter while dozens of supporters guarded ten large debris piles that were across the road. Another group of 50 activists blockaded the entrance to the access road. Three arrests were made for disorderly conduct, but protesters were cited and released on-site.

MORE INFO: Marcellus Earth First!

Montana Coal Export

In less than two weeks, from August 12-20, people will start gathering in Helena for the Coal Export Action. As Arch Coal prepares its permit application for the Otter Creek Mine. Coal industry giants are pushing members of the Montana State Land Board to let them build the Otter Creek mine, the “anchor project” in a larger industry scheme to transform southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming into a coal mining industrial zone.

This is already shaping up to be the biggest action of its kind in the Northern Rockies region. Many action participants may be engaging in civil disobedience for the first time, and we are committed to providing resources to make this the accessible, empowering, and effective action we all need. Now, in these last couple of weeks before the action, you can help it grow even more.

MORE INFO: Coal Export Action

Canada Action Camp

On August 6th – 10th there will be the 3rd Annual Unis?tot?en Action Camp. The camp will feature lots of activities around building solidarity, campaigns and action planning for communities who will stop the proposed and approved pipelines and mining projects that are unwelcome in the north of Unceded Occupied so called bc and canada. The proposed pipelines from Northern Gateway, Kitimat Summit Lake Looping Project, and the Pembina and Kinder Morgan Pipelines seek to cross the rivers at the exact point where the resistance camp is built in Unis?tot?en Territory of Talbits Kwah.

MORE INFO: Unistoten Camp