Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Clean coal" and civil disobedience

2000 people have recently pledged to do civil disobedience at the White House starting last Saturday against a project by a large and unscrupulous (is there now another kind of large corporate entity…?) oil company aiming to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is also the week that the new Martin Luther King memorial opens on the mall (Obama will speak at its dedication Sunday), and the timing of the sit-in honors King’s significance in a way that Obama himself is avoiding (and of course, historically avoided, a community organizer who did not engage in or lead actual protest).

Coal is, as in mountain top removal in West Virginia, the destroyer of environments, the human activity which poisons clean water – the blueness of the water as something to drink and to water the land and a lifesource for fish, people and other animals is already and will become a great source of strife in this century, notably in Africa, but here too (see Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, h/t Matt Morgan). In West Virginia, the beauty of the land has been ravaged by the removal – it is perhaps the best symbol of what humans do to the creation. And children have been visited by new cancers at Marsh Fork Elementary where the community did civil disobedience at Governor Mancin's office - see here - and marched to Washington to protest. (h/t to my student Travis Linger, a West Virginian who is writing beautifully about this).

But the hunger for energy and profit has now brought tar sands, something possibly worse, into the picture. As leading climate scientist and responsible (in Max Weber’s terms) public servant James Hansen suggests – the Bush administration’s oil lobbyists, wrote the poisonous “clean air act” and filed reports, reedited to eliminate everything written by civil servants, on the “climate,” especially tried to silence Hansen – the use of the tar sands would generate even greater, probably unstoppable global warming. Since evolution is, for the profit-greedy and their sycophants, including Republican Presidential candidates not science but a fiction (that these are "Presidential" candidates and that the corporate media make it possible for them is a sign of how America has declined), company advocates have apparently suggested that humans can adapt to this kind of climate change. Making all the world worse than Midland Texas (where Bush lives), the fantasy that humans would conform is, however, not evolutionarily desirable, were it possible.*

Keystone is also announcing various figures on jobs to be provided – listen to a debate over the project from DemocracyNow here - and the Teamsters leadership is supporting it. The pressure on Obama as a capitalist politician to adopt this is especially fierce in the midst of a depression where he has relied on largely empty slogans about trade (his administration sold weapons in India just after the 2010 election and he extolled “20,000” jobs – Obama, the peace candidate about Iraq, has been reduced by Washington and the war complex from launching the stimulus, which spent no money on the Pentagon and did fund green projects, to hawking militarism.** Featuring few economists, Obama’s administration has come to downplay Keynsian insights about serious stimulus spending to get the economy moving.***

But the democracy will not take the degradation. The farmers whom the pipeline from Canada to Texas will dispossess are protesting in Nebraska (the debater against the policy on Democracy Now here represents them). Interestingly, only local papers as in Rutland, Vermont and Lincoln, Nebraska are covering this story, though the Times printed an editorial against Tar Sands production on Sunday (civil disobedience from below has an effect despite the general corporate media blackout).

The Ogalalla Aquifer in Nebraska, which this pipeline would run across and leak into, provides drinking water for the people of 9 states…20,000 jobs versus poisoned water, new cancers and much other damages. Not a hard choice, ethically speaking…

But capitalism has, without mass pressure from below, sucked the promise out of the Obama administration. Capitalism is rapidly destroying the middle class and with roughly 16% real unemployment, counting those who have given up looking for work, and those who have part-time work but would gladly take full-time work, the “renewed” recession is deepening into a long and global depression. The Keynsian remedies for this, those Obama tried, with success but in too limited a way, have been stopped by parliamentary democracy, or as I call it in Democratic Individuality, an oligarchy with parliamentary forms. Without mass civil disobedience and democratic protest, such a regime is, as I have suggested on this blog, a reactionary two-step to the Right. About capitalism, Europe (see especially Greece here) and the US are busy proving Marx right for political reasons adjoined to economic ones (one has but to read Paul Krugman’s columns in the Times to trace the contrast between what is possible and what big money, moving increasingly to the anti-democratic Right, has wrought).

Richard Gilbert, the first Keynsian in the United States who served in the Roosevelt administration (and my dad), once wrote an essay in a book edited by Seymour Harris, called Saving American Capitalism. It suggested that the economic solutions for countering depression had now been made available. But my dad quit the Truman administration because politically, the interest in redistribution was slight. Democracy works, in Michigan in the auto industry when there are sit-down strikes in the factories, in the South, when there is mass disobedience for civil rights. Otherwise, mainstream or corporate American politics is bought by the rich, the Right strident, most Democrats spineless...

In retrospect, one might even say that even the Communist Manifesto was a fairly conservative idea about capitalist economy and did not see important aspects of its destruction of the environment. In 1848, Marx and Engels thought the majority would become dispossessed and suffering proletarians (workers with only their labor-power to sell, having no tools or land to work with), and that there would be a small number of capitalists. But they did not foresee a redistribution of income and wealth from the vast majority (say, the bottom 80%) to the top 1/10 of one per cent of the population. They did not foresee the complete destruction of the environment, the making of lands a waste or a vision of hell for profit.*****

Obama ran in 2008 on his understanding of global warming and climate change. He said rightly that ordinary people would have to keep the pressure on him from below for him to lead in this direction (since he demobilized his mass campaign upon reaching office, many of whom would have pushed for this, his actions spoke louder than words on whether he would fight for serious reforms, for instance a green-collar economy as Van Jones names it). Many of those doing civil disobedience will wear Obama 2008 buttons. They carry the hope that Obama represented, of a productive American economy providing more jobs and doing something about global warming. Civil disobedience (and even much more mass and rowdy civil disobedience) is the way to go to give America and the world a future. There is vigor and enthusiasm in Bill McKibben’s statement below. This is worth fighting for. As the protestors say, we are all indigenous to this planet…


Monday, August 22, 2011 by The Journal Star (Nebraska)
I Will Be Sitting in Front of the White House
by Carol Smith

Here in Nebraska, the controversy over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline has largely focused on the danger of an oil spill contaminating our groundwater resources. Nationally though, growing numbers of people are warning of the irreparable damage that tar sands oil will wreak on the climate if we burn the filthy fossil fuel that the pipeline would haul.

While a vocal group of skeptics continue to argue that the science of human-caused global warming is unproved or even an outright hoax, the human role in climate change now is beyond doubt. The overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists (98 percent, according to the Washington Post) clearly put the blame for global warming on the increased carbon emissions produced from burning coal and oil.

According to the world's most celebrated climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, "if tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over." The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will rise precipitously, triggering uncontrollable climate change well before the end of this century. The world, Hansen warns, already is facing a "climate emergency."

The last thing we should be doing is building a pipeline to transport this toxic fuel.

Not over the Ogallala Aquifer. Not anywhere.

To date, however, the administration has refused to take a principled stand on this critical issue, opting to passively let the permitting process go forward. But with the State Department on track to issue a final decision before the end of the year, the opportunity to influence the White House is narrowing.

So James Hansen and over a thousand other American citizens are marching on the White House, risking arrest for trespassing.

During a two-week period that ends Sept. 3, activists wearing business suits and "Obama for President" buttons will -- in dignified and nonviolent fashion -- literally put their bodies on the line to urge the president to honor the promise he made in accepting the 2008 Democratic nomination that his election would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." In the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the climate movement, these Americans will be asking President Barack Obama to publicly declare that he will not sign a certificate of national interest permitting this transnational pipeline to be built.

And I will be one of a thousand people sitting in front of the White House.

As a native Lincolnite, homeowner and a mother, I'm doing as much as I personally can to reduce my carbon footprint. I've insulated my home, installed Energy Star appliances and light bulbs and even erected solar panels on my roof. I drive less, bicycle more and eat food produced locally and organically. But a consumer can only do so much. Conservation and energy efficiency only go so far.

I can't stop the tar sands oil from being mined. I can't stop coal mining in Wyoming or West Virginia, or oil drilling under the sea or in the Arctic. Only the politicians in Washington can do that. And unlike the fossil fuel industry lobbyists and U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which gives more money to candidates than the Republican and Democratic parties combined), I can't make huge financial contributions to influence the political process.

But as a citizen -- beyond voting and contacting my elected officials -- I can make a moral statement with my body.
This month, for the first time in my 62 year-old life, I will be intentionally violating the law and risking personal arrest. Along with the other thousand-plus activists who will be marching on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I will be asking Obama to stand up to the fossil fuel lobby that is seeking to scrape every last bit of coal and suck every last drop of oil out of the earth, no matter how much damage is done to our fragile ecosystems: the land, air and water. I will be urging him to back us away from the climactic tipping point that threatens to bring our species (and most of the other species on the planet) to the brink of extinction. I will be beseeching him to unilaterally break us of this destructive fossil fuel addiction and instead promote safe, green energies like wind, solar, wave and geothermal.

And until Obama publicly declares that he will not sign a certificate of national interest, I will sit in front of his house and respectfully refuse to leave.

Carol Smith plans to leave for Washington on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 by the Rutland Herald (Vermont)
Bill McKibben Jailed After White House Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
by Kevin O’Connor

Vermont environmental author and activist Bill McKibben went to Washington, D.C., in hopes of getting attention by getting arrested. This weekend he got that and more: a surprise two-night stay in jail

McKibben and 64 other protesters kicked off a two-week sit-in at White House on Saturday to oppose a $7 billion, 1,700-mile oil pipeline planned to cross the nation’s Great Plains.

U.S. Park Police had warned demonstrators that each would be arrested and quickly released with a $100 fine for trespassing. But after authorities learned that more than 2,000 people from all 50 states plan to join the protest sometime between now until Sept. 3, they jailed McKibben and his peers until a court hearing Monday — all in hopes of deterring future participants.
The police action, however, didn’t appear to stop pipeline opponents. McKibben used his one phone call from jail to tell fellow protest organizers that despite heat in the nation’s capital, all arrested were in good spirits and urged their peers to continue on.

“This was a powerful day,” McKibben said in a written statement. “It’s not the easiest thing on earth for law-abiding folk to come risk arrest. It’s hot out here today, especially when you’re wearing a suit and tie. But it’s nowhere near as hot as it’s going to get if we lose this fight.”

The Obama administration is debating whether to approve the pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters say it will expand the nation’s energy supply, while opponents counter it will raise emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that are warming the planet and warping precipitation and wind patterns.

McKibben and colleagues are fearful the Obama administration will permit the pipeline just as it recently opened much of Alaska to oil drilling and approved coal mining on federal land in Wyoming. Lacking money for advertising or lobbying, they’re inviting supporters to join them in Washington in hopes of luring the attention of the press, public and president.

“This pipeline has emerged as the single clear test of the president’s willingness to fight for the environment,” McKibben said in a weekend statement. “We’ve already succeeded in nationalizing this fight in a way no one thought was possible. It’s not just a group of people along the pipeline route who are opposing this project anymore. People from all 50 states will be joining us over the coming two weeks.”

After a Saturday rally at Lafayette Square Park, McKibben and supporters moved to a sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House. There they unfurled two large banners that read “Climate Change is Not in Our National Interest: Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline” and “We Sit In Against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama Will You Stand Up to Big Oil?”
Police, issuing warnings to clear the area, first arrested a young woman from Wasilla, Alaska — hometown of Republican politician Sarah Palin — and then McKibben and colleagues on charges of failure to obey a lawful order.

Authorities transported the group — which included Vermont Law School professor and former White House official Gus Speth and gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi — to a booking station before transferring all but about a dozen D.C. residents to the city’s Central Cell Block.

The protesters are scheduled to appear in court Monday, at which time their lawyers expect them to be processed and released — perhaps after each paying $100 or more on the initial charge of failure to obey a lawful order and up to $500 more on an additional charge of blocking passage.

Before the sit-in, police had said participants would be arrested and face only a $100 fine before being released the same day. But authorities since have expressed concern that the protest would divert their attention from events leading up to the Aug. 28 dedication of the capital’s new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.

Protest coordinators at TarSandsAction.org responded in a statement: “As the dedication of the MLK Jr. memorial approaches, the sit-in outside the White House is a reminder that the great American tradition of civil disobedience is not just history. The participants are coming not with deep pockets or a partisan agenda, but with the simple idea that their voices should be heard. They will not be intimidated or deterred.”

© 2011 Rutland Herald


The People v. the Pipeline: Time to Join In
How you can get involved in the one of the most important climate struggles happening in North America.

by Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, Maude Barlow, Tom Goldtooth, James Hansen, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, George Poitras, David Suzuki, Gus Speth
posted Jun 22, 2011

Dear Friends,

This will be a slightly longer letter than common for the internet age—it’s serious stuff.[sic - this sentence is unfortunate]

The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.

The full version goes like this:

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.

"If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”
-James Hansen

And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.
These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities—First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Ogallala Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using "state of the art" technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million. Even with the new pipeline they won’t be able to burn that much overnight—but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out. As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.” The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game. "Unless we get increased market access, like with Keystone XL, we're going to be stuck," said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told a Canadian newspaper last week.

It’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces.

Given all that, you’d suspect that there’s no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months the president has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling, and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore.

And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. TransCanada Pipeline, the company behind Keystone, has hired as its chief lobbyist for the project a man named Paul Elliott, who served as deputy national director of Clinton’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can "adapt their physiology" to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington. A wonderful coalition of environmental groups has built a strong campaign across the continent—from Cree and Dene indigenous leaders to Nebraska farmers, they’ve spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and to say even if our own homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home—the earth—will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.
And we need to say something else, too: it’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces.

We don’t have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies, and beginning in mid-August many of us will use them. We will, each day through Labor Day, march on the White House, risking arrest with our trespass. We will do it in dignified fashion, demonstrating that in this case we are the conservatives, and that our foes—who would change the composition of the atmosphere—are dangerous radicals.

Come dressed as if for a business meeting—this is, in fact, serious business. And another sartorial tip—if you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young Senator who told us that with his election the "rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal." We don’t understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure the government for change. We’ll do what we can.
And one more thing: we don’t want college kids to be the only cannon fodder in this fight. They’ve led the way so far on climate change—10,000 came to DC for the Powershift gathering earlier this spring. They’ve marched this month in West Virginia to protest mountaintop removal; Tim DeChristopher faces sentencing this summer in Utah for his creative protest. Now it’s time for people who’ve spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere (and whose careers won’t be as damaged by an arrest record) to step up too. Most of us signing this letter are veterans of this work, and we think it’s past time for elders to behave like elders. One thing we don’t want is a smash up: if you can’t control your passions, this action is not for you.
This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, to the date in September when by law the administration can either grant or deny the permit for the pipeline. Not all of us can actually get arrested—half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada—the decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.

Winning this battle won’t save the climate. But losing it will mean the chances of runaway climate change go way up—that we’ll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we’ve seen this year. And we’re fighting for the political future too—for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection. You have to start somewhere, and this is where we choose to begin.

Now it’s time for people who’ve spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere to step up too. We think it’s past time for elders to behave like elders.

If you think you might want to be a part of this action, we need you to sign up here. As plans solidify in the next few weeks we’ll be in touch with you to arrange nonviolence training; our colleagues at a variety of environmental and democracy campaigns will be coordinating the actual arrangements.

We know we’re asking a lot. You should think long and hard on it, and pray if you’re the praying type. But to us, it’s as much privilege as burden to get to join this fight in the most serious possible way. We hope you’ll join us.

Maude Barlow
 Wendell Berry
 Tom Goldtooth 
Danny Glover 
James Hansen 
Wes Jackson 
Naomi Klein 
Bill McKibben 
George Poitras
David Suzuki
 Gus Speth
p.s.—Please pass this letter on to anyone else you think might be interested. We realize that what we’re asking isn’t easy, and we’re very grateful that you’re willing even to consider it.

Published on Friday, August 19, 2011 by YES! Magazine
This Is Getting Exciting

The climate movement's biggest civil disobedience action ever is about to take Washington by storm.
by Bill McKibben
This is starting to get exciting.

Five or six of us are hunched around a table in a small Washington office, shouting into phones and pecking away at keyboards as we count down toward the Saturday beginning of what looks like it will be the largest civil disobedience protest in the history of the American environmental movement.

We’ve got 2,000 people signed up to come to Washington and get arrested outside the White House between August 20 and September 3, all in an effort to persuade President Obama not to grant a permit for a new pipeline from the tar sands of Canada.
As momentum builds, we’re hearing from the famous and powerful: the wonderful Bernie Sanders just offered up a blogpost pointing out how many more jobs we’d create if we concentrated on clean energy; and the dynamic actor Mark Ruffalo chipped in a heartfelt video imploring people to head to Washington for the protest.

But it’s just as exciting to see the stream of inspiring commitments coming in from four Montana grandmothers (one of whom just happens to be Margot Kidder, otherwise known as Lois Lane), or a New York City college student who felt the hope of Obama’s 2008 victory, and also a little of the frustration many of us have shared since, pointing out the many times the president has “backed down from what could have been transformative confrontations with the defenders of the status quo.”

Which is exactly why so many of us will be wearing our Obama ’08 buttons when we get arrested: we want desperately to conjure up the surge of joy that came with that campaign.

For me, though, the big thrill of the day was seeing a blog post from my junior high school biology teacher, Fran Ludwig. She’s emerged in recent years as a great Massachusetts leader of the climate movement, and she managed to capture perfectly the message we’re trying to spread.

She says, "I'm going to Washington and risking arrest because, in spite of the efforts of concerned individuals and communities to live in a more sustainable way, government policy is the only way to achieve the large-scale change we need to avert the worst outcome of rampant climate change. The approval of the Keystone XL is exclusively up to President Obama. I hope to add my presence to thousands of others in Washington (and hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and across the planet) to say: Enough! We need to take a stand against fossil fuel now!!"

By Saturday morning, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be in jail, along with the first wave of a hundred or so protesters. [Mckibben and others were kept in jail over the weekend to try to discourage others]. But by no means the last—we’ll keep this protest alive till Labor Day Weekend, and then hand it off to the Canadians, who plan mass civil disobedience of their own in September.

And did I tell you we just heard from friends in Turkey? They’re planning to deliver their protest to the Canadian consulate this weekend—and they’ve spurred many others around the world in the same direction.

As I said, it’s starting to get interesting. If you want in on the fun, go to tarsandsaction.org

Bill McKibben wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Bill is a YES! Magazine contributing editor. McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of 350.org, and a TomDispatch regular. His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Friday, August 19, 2011 by the Guardian/UK {this highlights how weak the coverage is in the American corporate press]
Massive Protest at White House Against Alberta Tar Sands Pipeline
Campaigners say the two-week protest will be the biggest green civil disobedience in a generation
by Suzanne Goldenberg

A protest at the White House against a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands is emerging as the biggest green civil disobedience campaign in a generation, organizers said.

Approximately 1,500 people signed up to court arrest during the two-week action outside the White House, which begins on Saturday morning.

The campaign is seen as a last chance to persuade Barack Obama to stop a planned 1,600-mile pipeline that will carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta across rich American farmland to the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department is expect to produce its final environmental analysis of the pipeline by the end of the month. Obama will then have 90 days to decide whether going ahead with the project would be in the national interest.

The Keystone XL project has been a major focus of environmental protests. Greenhouse gas emissions of tar sands crude are 40% higher than conventional oil, and the open-pit mining has devastated Alberta's boreal forest.

Recent pipeline accidents in Michigan and Montana have also deepened fears about potential dangers along the pipeline's route through prime American farmland.

The veteran environmentalist Bill McKibben, who is leading the protest, describes it as the biggest civil disobedience action in environmental circles for years.

It also puts Obama on the spot to make good on his promises as a presidential candidate in 2008 to act on climate change.
Congress failed to act on the main plank of Obama's green agenda – climate change legislation – and pressure from Tea Party activists has forced the Environmental Protection Agency to delay or weaken regulations on dealing with climate change.
This time though, Obama has freedom of action – or at least that is McKibben's hope.

Obama must personally sign off on the pipeline, if it is to go ahead. "We think we may have a chance because for once Obama gets to make the call himself. He has to sign – or not sign – the permit," McKibben said.

"As environmentalists this is the one clean test we are ever going to get of Obama's real commitment to climate issues."
The protest will begin at about 11am on Saturday morning when a first group of 100 activists will gather at the gates of the White House, an area that is supposed to be kept clear, and wait to be arrested.

Unlike other campaigns, the next fortnight's actions have geographical reach – with protesters descending on Washington from areas along the pipeline's route.

One group from eastern Texas, has hired an RV to make the journey.

The campaign against the pipeline has steadily been gaining in momentum amid concerns about pipeline safety.

The pipeline route crosses rich farmland and important aquifers.

Campaigners argue the thick heavy tar sands crude could do far more damage than conventional oil, and that the State Department has rushed through its environmental review.

The oil industry, meanwhile, pushed back with a study this week claiming the pipeline would create 20,000 new construction jobs.

New York Times EDITORIAL
Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers
Published: August 21, 2011

This page opposes the building of a 1,700-mile pipeline called the Keystone XL, which would carry diluted bitumen — an acidic crude oil — from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast. We have two main concerns: the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.

The Canadian government insists that it has found ways to reduce those emissions. But a new report from Canada’s environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods.

It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day.

That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.

One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 — even as other sectors are reducing emissions. Canada still hopes to meet the overall target it agreed to at Copenhagen in 2009 — a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. If it falls short, as seems likely, tar sands extraction will bear much of the blame.

Canada’s government is committed to the tar sands business. (Alberta’s energy minister, Ronald Liepert, has declared, “I’m not interested in Kyoto-style policies.”) The United States can’t do much about that, but it can stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department will decide whether to approve or reject the pipeline by the end of the year. It has already delivered two flawed reports on the pipeline’s environmental impact. It should acknowledge the environmental risk of the pipeline and the larger damage caused by tar sands production and block the Keystone XL.

*"Libertarians" like the Koch Brothers push this position. A serious libertarianism might begin from an insight in political philosophy into the importance of equal liberty – John Rawls’s first principle of justice, characteristic of modern democratic theory. See here. But we all then particularly need a government that stands up for preserving the health of human beings and the beauty of the environment in which we found ourselves (for the religious, the creation…). The Canadian company purchased a Democrat, Paul Elliott, who worked on the Hilary Clinton campaign to lobby for the pipeline; the Department of State, perhaps not fortuitously, has now issued a statement that this project may go ahead.

**The administration had previously arranged a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

***Keynsianism is, in this respect, like evolution. Stimulus programs do put people to work and give money both to the then employed who spend it, needing to survive, and “multiply” the economic effect. Sadly, emphasizing deficit-cutting against stimulus, European finance ministers, led by the German conservatives, have unnecessarily worsened the Euro crisis, and they are echoed now by the “tea party” and the Democrats. Obama has made a desperate calculation that he can win reelection in a depression from the “center” (he also probably is weak-minded about what is necessary for the economy: too much training at Chicago where Milton Friedman’s economics of the money supply and anti-Keynsianism is in the atmosphere one breathes, even for a community organizer studying law….

****The emphasis on militarism was also already prevalent (Andrew Bacevich’s Washington Rules and The Limits of Power draw a good picture of the development of the Cold War and the militarist alternative to decent and non-destructive/self-destructive priorities; my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy? indicates how foreign policy – and hence militarism – leads to the blunting or defeat of reform or what ought to be “common sense” under capitalism and this has gone much further; today Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich say what is true about militarism – how American aggressions and military bases are completely self-defeating and against the interest of citizens and their words do not get covered in the corporate media, except in Paul’s case recently on the Daily Show.

*****Marx’s argument in Capital that technology is the great enemy of strikes in the chapter on "Machinery and Modern Industry" or on the hellishness of factory life for children, women and other poor workers in the chapter on the "Working Day: as well as on the adulteration of food in the "General Law of Capitalist Accumulation" does suggest this broad trend, but it is Heidegger’s rethinking of philosophy, of humans “being there” in the environment which, against the previous slogan, including Marx's of "man against nature," suggests this. (Actually Heidegger speaks only of “Dasein,” not humans, and his real view stressed the importance of German dasein and was wantonly predatory see here, here, here , here and here). Heidegger’s argument is skeptical of modern urbanization and critical of the destruction of the environment. See the passage on Rilke’s visionary short poem from the Book of Hours, discussed briefly by Heidegger in What are Poets for? Trans. Albert Hofstadter, in Poetry, Language and Thought, p. 114,

The Kings of the world are grown old,
Inheritors they shall have none.
In childhood death removes the son,
their daughters pale have given, each one,
sick crowns to the powers to hold.

Into coin the rabble breaks them,
Today’s lord of the world takes them,
stretches them into machines in his fire,
grumbling they serve his every desire;
but happiness still forsakes them.

The ore is homesick. And it yearns
to leave the coin and leave the wheel
that teach it to lead a life inane.
The factories and tills it spurns;
from petty forms it will uncongeal,
return to the open mountain’s vein,
and on it, the mountains will close again.

Heidegger’s commentary is a brief paragraph at pp. 114-15. See also Michael Zimmerman, Heidegger's Confrontation with Modernity: Technology, Politics, and Art (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Technology).

Now of course any notion of humanity is already a distortion of Heidegger’s real, covert or esoteric view on the importance of German Dasein. He denied the importance of ethics as a way of thinking, a “fishing in the muddy sea of values,” but his actual ethics were those of conquest and genocide, of active National Socialism.




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