Keystone XL Pipeline Protestors Use Peaceful Resistance
This post is a part of the “What Democracy Looks Like” weekly column, which covers left-wing movements and activism. Formerly known as “The Active Left.”
I’m sure by now you have heard about all of the people that have been arrested protesting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. As of Tuesday, September 6, over 1,200 activists had been arrested outside the White House since Saturday, August 20.
Here’s a quick recap in case you’re not too familiar with this story: The 1,700-mile-long Keystone pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada though the Midwest of the United States, and all the way to the coast. Tar sands oil are considered by many to be the world’s dirtiest fuel. The pipeline would potentially bring two major threats. One of them would be the very tangible pollution of water if a spill where to occur. The second threat would be more of a “bigger picture” type of thing, climate change, also known as global warming. Climate change of course is the warming of the planet along with the threat of extreme weather, all partly attributed to human activity.
NASA scientist James Hansen came out and said that if the pipeline were to be implemented, it would be, “essentially game over for the climate.” It would be kind of hard to argue with a NASA scientist, but if anyone can find a way to argue with facts it’s the right-wing. By the way, I am including the Obama administration under the “right-wing” umbrella.
in his article, “For Protesters, Keystone Pipeline is Line in Tar Sand” Richard Harris stated that the Obama administration would decide whether or not to accept the proposal later this year. The thousands of protesters have been trying to make that decision a little easier for the president and his staff.
Although the demonstrations have been part of one of the largest environmental protests, the mainstream, corporate media has doen an absolutely horrendous job covering the issue. They did jump on board for a little bit after actress Daryl Hannah joined the many activists getting arrested. Although it was a very brave and encouraging action by Hannah, it is kind of sad that the media would only cover this situation at length once a celebrity got involved. Dan Choi is among other celebrities to have gotten arrested. Choi is a discharged soldier turned activist. He was discharged for coming out as gay during the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Other prominent names arrested include Hansen, filmmaker Josh Fox, writers Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, along with former White House official Gus Speth.
One point that people in favor of the pipeline have brought is that the proposal would bring jobs. However as labor journalist Mike Elk stated in his In These Times post, the few part-time jobs that would be gained because of the pipeline would actually hurt the labor movement more than it would help it. Not only would these jobs cause workers to be accessories in the destruction of the planet, but it could also weaken the movement by losing strong environmental allies.
To me, another factor in the jobs argument is that this would be the wrong kind of construction jobs. Plans that could be put forth in order to grow green-energy jobs or perhaps even help infrastructure would be much more helpful to our economy and our country overall. The right-wingers talk about giving subsidies and tax breaks to job creators and to innovation for energy, but what they mean by that is big oil and natural gas.
In the end, we won’t really have a clear idea of what will happen with the pipeline until the administration states what its stance will be. We’ll definitely keep our eyes and ears open if anything else develops. I personally don’t want to put too much hope in Obama because he has already demonstrated that his administration is not too concerned with environmental issues. A perfect example is his recent decision to get rid of the proposal to tighten the ozone standards. For further other examples of civil disobedience for environmental issues please check out my post on Tim DeChristopher, “The Legend of Bidder 70 and His Civil Disobedience.” What DeChristopher and the Keystone XL Pipeline protesters are making clear is that we have to take issues of climate and the environment in to our own hands.
For further reading on why the Keystone XL Pipeline would be terrible, please visit the Mother Jones article, “What’s All the Fuss About the Keystone XL Pipeline?”