Keystone XL Pipeline Case Faces Jury in Oklahoma

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Alec Johnson spoke at a gathering last month about his 2013 act of civil disobedience against the Keystone XL and his upcoming trial. (Tar Sands Blockade)

Media Advisory

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, kxlblockade@gmail.com

Stephen Warner, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, 405-863-2888, gptsrmedia@gmail.com

Keystone XL Pipeline Case Faces Jury in Oklahoma

Man who blockaded Keystone XL construction argues threats of climate change and environmental harm justify his actions

On April 22, 2013, Alec Johnson disrupted construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline near Tushka, Oklahoma by chaining himself to heavy equipment and effectively halting work. Eventually the police were called and Mr. Johnson was removed from the site and arrested. Now, more than a year after his arrest, Alec Johnson will attempt to make US history becoming the first to argue that he was justified in breaking the law to prevent a greater harm: the urgent threat of climate change. This kind of ‘necessity’ defense rooted in climate justice could have national implications for the growing movement of resistance to the fossil fuel industry across the US.

Mr. Johnson will argue that enforcing future generation’s rights to a stable climate and livable environment is not a crime. His defense will introduce a commanding consensus of climate science, including that of renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen who is preparing written
testimony for the consideration of the court which will make clear that effective action to address the climate crisis is urgent and can no longer be delayed. Mr. Johnson will also draw attention to imminent health and safety risks posed by Keystone XL. He will address contamination threats to people living near the 1,700 mile pipeline route, the health problems experienced by First Nations communities from the extraction of tar sands, which is the product that flows through the KXL pipeline, as well as the toxic refinery emissions that it is forcing upon Gulf coast communities.

WHO: Alec Johnson, a 62 year old father of two and resident of East Texas, and dozens of supporters from across Oklahoma and Texas many of whom are directly impacted by the Keystone XL pipeline.

WHAT: A rally outside the Atoka County Courthouse featuring the voices of defendant Alec Johnson and community supporters from Oklahoma and Texas, followed the next day by a jury trial featuring the unprecedented use of a climate change necessity defense.

WHEN: Rally begins on Wednesday, October 22nd at 6:30pm. Trial begins the following day on Thursday, October 23rd at 9:00am.

WHERE: Both the rally and criminal trial will take place at the Atoka County Courthouse on 200 East Court Street, Atoka, Oklahoma, 74525.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES:

Visuals: The rally will feature striking banners and signage, as well as color coordinated attire.

Interview Opportunities: Alec Johnson, impacted KXL landowners, grassroots supporters

 

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Dallas, TX: Protestors Lock Themselves Inside of Hilton in Protest of ALEC Convention

For Immediate Release:

July 30, 2014

BP RTContact: Jonathan Adams, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide, 817-676-4913,

jonathanadams624@gmail.com

This morning, two community members from the organization Blackland Prairie Rising Tide locked themselves to stair banisters inside of the Hilton Anatole hotel at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual national convention in Dallas, Texas. Subsequently, two more protesters dropped a banner from a banister in the hotel lobby reading “We Suffer, ALEC Profits.”

Beginning on Wednesday, thousands of business executives as well as local, state and national politicians attended the annual convention, which will last until Saturday morning. The members of Blackland Prairie Rising Tide are airing a multitude of grievances that relate to ALEC’s secretive practices, which include ‘wining-and-dining’ politicians in order to promote legislation written by corporations.

ALEC has written legislation that aims to privatize public services such as prisons, toll roads, and education. Many of the organization’s bills are written as ‘model bills’ that are meant to be replicated around the nation. Recently, the group introduced the controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in several states. The laws were brought to public attention by the shooter George Zimmerman in the infamous Trayvon Martin case.

Locally in Dallas, billionaire investors are using ALEC legislation to privatize the independent school district and transform it into a for-profit institution. This legislation works by promoting voucher programs that drain public schools of resources by using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school profits and specifying that those schools must remain unregulated. In addition the bill works to deem public schools “educationally bankrupt” to rationalize giving taxpayer dollars unregulated schools

Cien Fuegos Carmona, a local anti-police brutality community organizer, locked himself inside of the hotel citing concerns of wealth disparity and oppressive governments that lead him to protest today. “Poor folks are always doing the work and the rich are always exploiting and looting our collective dreams,” said Carmona.

ALEC continues to subvert our democracy from behind closed doors, launching a series of corporate-funded attacks on the overall quality of life for the general public without input of those affected for the last four decades,” said Whytney Blythe, a local community activist and organizer who also locked herself inside of the hotel. “Some of the bills ALEC has sponsored includes: the racist Arizona SB 1070, the controversial Stand Your Ground Law and the Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Act, exacerbating the failed ‘War on Drugs’ and boosting the ever-growing prison population all in the name of profit. They actively fight against an established living wage for workers while simultaneously minimizing worker’s rights and manipulating national and state legislatures to inhibit a wide array of efforts to protect the environment as well as public health. The grave danger ALEC poses to our collective wellbeing is severe and we refuse to remain casualties in the name of greed any longer.”

The organization is now seeking donations for costs and plans to uphold a sustained local campaign in relation to local environmental concerns and free trade agreements.

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Protestor Locks Himself to Conference Equipment, Disrupts TransCanada Presentation At Oil Industry Gathering

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Ethan speaking to room full of fossil fuel profiteers

Houston, TX — February 28th, 2013, 1:45pm — a protestor with Tar Sands Blockade this afternoon locked his neck to a projector screen in the middle of a TransCanada presentation at the North American Crude Marketing Conference in Houston. In taking direct action, Ethan Nuss confronted in-person Paul Miller, TransCanada’s Executive Vice President of Oil Pipelines, and a ballroom of tar sands industry investors, demanding a halt to the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Nuss successfully disrupted the second annual conference hosted by Platts. Among other things, the gathering is intended for fossil fuel industry executives and their financial backers to collaborate on schemes to transport dirty and dangerous tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast so it can be refined and sold on the international market, thereby expanding the industry.

“TransCanada’s ‘business as usual’ spells death and destruction for our communities,” said Ethan Nuss. “My conscience won’t allow me to watch this multinational corporation and their profiteers poison impacted communities from here in Houston’s polluted East End to indigenous people at the point of tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada. This must stop.” Ethan further shares his reasons for taking direct action below:

At last year’s marketing conference, Paul Miller explained the necessity of the southern leg of Keystone XL through Oklahoma and Texas to the expansion of the exploitative tar sands industry. TransCanada’s own fourth quarter report, released last week, revealed that the controversial pipeline is less than half completed, despite the Canadian pipeline corporation’s previous projections for completion of the southern segment this April.

This revelation highlights that Tar Sands Blockade’s sustained civil disobedience campaign since last August has been successful in delaying Keystone XL construction. Today’s action is part of growing momentum for an upcoming national week of action called for by Tar Sands Blockade and allies from March 16-23, with over 60 actions currently reported nationwide.

“This is just a morsel of what TransCanada and other tar sands profiteers can expect in the coming weeks and months,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “All over the country, communities are gearing up to take to the streets, offices, extraction sites and public events to show that our movement won’t relent until we’ve made this investment as toxic for TransCanada and its financial backers as the very tar sands being piped through Keystone XL. Our tar sands-free future begins now.”

Earlier this week, 20,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into Otter Creek in Tyler County, TX from a pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics. Otter Creek flows into Russell Creek, which feeds the Neches River. The leak did not trigger Sunoco’s detection systems but was discovered by local residents reporting oil in their water.

More Than 100 Protesters Take Over TransCanada’s Keystone XL Offices in Houston

*More Than 100 Protesters Take Over TransCanada’s Keystone XL Offices in Houston*
MEDIA RELEASE: Jan 7, 2013

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375,
kxlblockade@gmail.com<https://fruiteater.riseup.net/sm/src/compose.php?send_to=kxlblockade%40gmail.com>

Liveblog and photos:
http://tarsandsblockade.org/houston-action-transcanada-offices

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*Tar Sands Blockade Proclaims Next Phase of Organizing with Largest-Yet Action*
*HOUSTON, TX, JANUARY 3, 2013 12:00PM*: Over 100 blockaders stormed the
lobby of TransCanada’s Keystone XL office in Houston this morning.
Protesters danced, spilled black ‘tar sands’ balloons and hung neon orange
hazard tape to highlight the deadly effects of TransCanada’s corporate
greed on communities and ecosystems.

After being forced out of the lobby by police, the protesters gathered on
the sidewalk and performed street theatre in which a “pipe dragon” puppet
destroyed homes and poisoned water until being slain by knights
representing the grassroots coalition of Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More,
Earth First and others.

Today’s action was the largest yet in the months-long campaign by climate
justice organizers and Texas landowners against the pipeline and the first
mass action in Houston targeting TransCanada corporate offices directly. It
kicks off a new phase of Blockade organizing, targeting the corporate,
political and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline with
solidarity actions planned across the country this week, including in
Austin, Detroit and New York City.

Activist collective Anonymous today released the personal information of
TransCanada executives and Keystone XL’s financial backers in solidarity
with the launch of the Blockade’s new strategy phase. Protesters are
currently chained together and actively occupying TransCanada’s offices
near Boston.

“From the Texas backwoods to the corporate boardrooms, the fight to defend
our homes from toxic tar sands will not be ignored,” said Ramsey Sprague, a
Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “We’re here today to directly confront the
TransCanada executives who’re continuing on with business as usual while making
our communities sacrifice zones.”

Last Thursday, a tree blockade near Diboll, TX brought TransCanada’s
illegal practices to light, showing that they hadn’t received permission
from the county commissioner to build the pipeline through county land.

In addition to land and water concerns, the Keystone XL pipeline is a
classic case of environmental racism. In Houston, the low-income
neighborhoods near refineries, such as Manchester, whose residents are 90%
Latino, will have to breathe the noxious wastes of the tar sands refining
process.

“We’ve done everything we can to stop this pipeline: we’ve petitioned,
rallied and taken direct action. The historic resistance to this pipeline
shows how risky an investment this and other tar sands pipelines have
become,” said Alec Johnson, one of the office blockaders. “Tar sands oil
spilling into our waterways and millions of tons of carbon pollution
spilling into the atmosphere means that this industry’s days are numbered.”

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Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and
climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience
to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For
more information visit tarsandsblockade.org or follow us at @KXLBlockade.