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February 17, 2013 8:58 AM   Subscribe

For the first time in its 120 year history the board of the Sierra Club has authorized the use of civil disobedience, to protest the proposed construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Previously)

On Wednesday, February 13 2013, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, civil rights leader Julian Bond, actor Daryl Hannah, and over 40 others were arrested in front of the White House. Today, thousands more will be protesting in DC.
posted by Cookiebastard (57 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Monkey wrenches for all!

(The Keystone pipeline - a specifically for export pipeline that terminates in an untaxed free-trade zone would be an unmitigated disaster for the average American consumer.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:18 AM on February 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


Live streaming footage of the protest here.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:25 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Canada's insistence on divesting of its knowledge economy over the past decade and instead doubling down inn commodities has been a disaster.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:54 AM on February 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


Better live feed here.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2013


(The Keystone pipeline - a specifically for export pipeline that terminates in an untaxed free-trade zone would be an unmitigated disaster for the average American consumer.)

Why?

Canada seems to be focused on taking the cheap money that is resource export. When I was looking at the Canada immigration site recently, I noticed software engineers are no longer a needed skill. So much for that idea.
posted by rr at 10:15 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


A disaster for the American consumer? By bringing lower-cost Canadian crude to market?
posted by Dasein at 10:19 AM on February 17, 2013


Benny Andajetz : The Keystone pipeline - a specifically for export pipeline that terminates in an untaxed free-trade zone would be an unmitigated disaster for the average American consumer.

Keep in mind this pipeline wouldn't pump nice clean regular unleaded, but basically a kind of crude oil. Consumers don't use crude oil, but the US does have the refineries that export that nice clean gasoline to the rest of the world (though mostly just in our hemisphere).

Basically, we would get the crude tax-free, and sell a value-added product right back to Canada (and others)! They keep the pollution, we keep the profits. Honestly, it surprises me Canada hasn't made a deal with the devil to get a few refineries built in Alberta.

That said, don't consider me a big fan of the Keystone XL. I have serious concerns about the environmental consequences of increasing our use of the dirtiest, most energy- and carbon-intensive sources of hydrocarbons we know of short of coal.
posted by pla at 10:21 AM on February 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's worth noting that James Hansen, the world-renowned NASA climatologist and arguably the preeminent authority on the science of climate change, has said repeatedly that the Keystone XL pipeline, and any sustained extraction of the Tar Sands, would be "Game Over for the climate."
posted by (The Rt Hon.) MP at 10:28 AM on February 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


According to the wikipedia article (and allegedly the statements there are cited), its existence will cause all of the pipelines in N.A. (including the Keystone) to run at 1/2 capacity. This alone makes the cost unjustified and the project a 'disaster' for those taxpayers sinking money into this thing. Not a major disaster - like a cat 5 hurricane or 5m tsunami. More like a 40 car pileup quality disaster.
posted by Fuka at 10:29 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


A disaster for the American consumer? By bringing lower-cost Canadian crude to market?

It won't bring anything to the American market - it's totally for exporting Canadian product to everywhere else. It would bring a few refining jobs, but it would actually raise the price of Canadian oil, and reduce the supply we get from them now simply because there's no easier market for them to sell to at the moment.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:30 AM on February 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Alberta's refineries are at capacity.

I don't understand the opposition to Keystone, assuming the sensitive ecosystems are bypassed. The crude is being extracted come hell or high water. I should think the US would want to have it, versus the alternative, which is that China will take it.

The real piss-off, IMO, is that Alberta/Canada is giving away resources for pennies on the dollar. WTeverlovingF?! Why on earth aren't we following the Norwegian model?!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


What's interesting is that we're paying to increase catastrophic weather events that the Republican House no longer wants to pay to help people recover.
posted by BillW at 10:35 AM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hannah's been here before.

Texas grandmother arrested for trespassing on her own land to protest Keystone:
Daryl Hannah got arrested yesterday while blocking TransCanada’s construction of its Gulf Coast tar-sands pipeline. But the more interesting story is that Eleanor Fairchild was arrested, too.

Who’s Eleanor Fairchild? No one you’ve heard of. The important part isn’t who she is, it’s why she was arrested and where she was when it happened. Fairchild was arrested for trespassing. And when it happened, she was standing on her own property.
posted by homunculus at 10:36 AM on February 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also the politics here really suck. Once the pipeline is built, refineries in the north will be bypassed and the oil will be refined in Port Arthur. Like I said before, Port Arthur is a free-trade zone. So what do we get? Some number of temporary jobs to actually construct the pipeline. An increase in price and reduction in supply of Canadian oil. The ongoing threat of ecological problems with the physical pipeline. And ZERO money to the tax coffers.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:38 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]






Interesting/scary from homunculus' link:

[Susan Rice and her husband] reportedly had $300,000-$600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. In addition, “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel,” including Enbridge, a company which hopes to build another tar-sands pipeline. Had she been secretary of state, she might have had one of the great conflicts of interest of our time (or a major divestment problem).
posted by threeants at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2013 [4 favorites]




I don't understand the opposition to Keystone, assuming the sensitive ecosystems are bypassed.

That's a hell of an assumption.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on February 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


priceofoil.org: Keystone XL benefits from taxpayer subsidies
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:08 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


pla: "Honestly, it surprises me Canada hasn't made a deal with the devil to get a few refineries built in Alberta."

Refineries take a long time to pay off and oil production has peaked. Why the heck build new refineries when they'll have an input shortage before they are paid off.
posted by Mitheral at 11:11 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is this cheaper oil? Tar Sands investment only makes sense for the oil companies when the price is high enough because extraction is so expensive.

This stuff is getting extracted one way or another sadly. It's just a question of whether it goes to China or the US. Or rather, how much goes to each.

Environmentalists realize they don't have a hope in hell of stopping Alberta from ramping up extraction, particular under Stephen Harper, so they're hoping they can sway Obama instead. But I'm not sure it matters because, like I said, China.
posted by dry white toast at 11:24 AM on February 17, 2013


There's been a bunch of surprisingly well-organized opposition to the pipeline from people in my home state. Nebraska is not usually a bastion of noticeable resistance to environmental devastation, and yet: My youngest sister is in DC right now, texting me pictures of people waving anti-pipeline signs and wearing Huskers gear.

There's not the slightest doubt that they're gonna lose this fight, but I'm really proud of them for trying.
posted by brennen at 11:32 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that James Hansen, the world-renowned NASA climatologist and arguably the preeminent authority on the science of climate change, has said repeatedly that the Keystone XL pipeline, and any sustained extraction of the Tar Sands, would be "Game Over for the climate."

It's also worth noting that James Hansen's "carbon bomb" -- which implies not just sustained extraction but the total exhaustion of all known bitumen deposits in Alberta -- would take until the year 3316 to fully detonate, if you will.

I am certainly no defender of the oil and gas sector in Alberta or elsewhere, but I've found the willingness of mainline environmental organizations and people with scientist in their title to fudge, obfuscate and mislead on the hard facts of what KXL is and what it would do and wouldn't do to global emissions to be deeply disappointing. The whole climate action movement has spent a quarter century arguing hard, passionately and fairly that the science of climate change must have primacy in the debate. And so it must here as well.

There are strong arguments to be made against KXL, but the climate argument is deeply, deeply flawed. The only thing KXL substantially changes is the rate of new development at current prices. If and when oil spikes well over $100 again, it's overdrive again, even if they have to ship it all by railcar. No one in Calgary's handing their permits back in if this thing doesn't get approved.
posted by gompa at 12:03 PM on February 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


My youngest sister is in DC right now, texting me pictures of people waving anti-pipeline signs and wearing Huskers gear.

Just got back - turnout was light (~1pm a speaker said, "I hear there are 40,000 of you", when there were plainly no more than 2-3K people there) and the whole thing had an air of defeat hanging over it. Future generations of Americans are going to despise us.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am getting frequent updates from my wife and many friends that are there. They have been exuberant and optimistic, and the pictures I've seen look like way more than three thousand people.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:12 PM on February 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe it picked up after I left, or had other centers than the one I saw - there were definitely not more than 3K people at the base of the Washington Monument, however.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:18 PM on February 17, 2013


So now I'm gonna see a bunch of SUV's driving around with "NO KXL pipeline" bumper stickers on them, right?
posted by telstar at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did the Sierra Club engage in civil disobedience, or did some of the officers of the Sierra Club engage in civil disobedience on US soil? It appears it was the Sierra Club, as the Board of Directors voted on it.

Could the Sierra Club be declared a terrorist organization, and have its assets frozen or seized?
posted by the Real Dan at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2013


the Real Dan: "Could the Sierra Club be declared a terrorist organization, and have its assets frozen or seized?"

I suppose, if we lived in a dystopian totalitarian state where civil disobedience was considered terrorism.
posted by mullingitover at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I suppose, if we lived in a dystopian totalitarian state where civil disobedience was considered terrorism.

So, a fairly strong possibility then.
posted by Benjy at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2013 [28 favorites]


It's been mentioned a couple times here that the alternative may be the oil going to china. I have read in the past that china is a heavy consumer of coal, which I understand to be a 'dirtier' source of energy than oil. If the oil does go to China, is it likely to displace some amount of coal burning? If so could the oil going to China be a net environmental gain, although still not ideal?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2013


If this were a totalitarian state, there would not be protests of 3,000 people or 30,000 people. The people arrested in the civil disobedience last week were each released on $100 bond. No one is really calling this nonviolent protest terrorism, are they? We don't let suspected terrorists out on $100 bond.

I'm not too worried that the political powers that be are going to go all Post-9/11 on this thing, cry "terrorist" and let slip the dogs of waterboarding. I'm much more worried that the'll simply ignore it.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2013


If this were a competent totalitarian state that would be true.
posted by Mitheral at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2013


If the oil does go to China, is it likely to displace some amount of coal burning?

Nope. China burns coal to produce electricity. It would only use oil as transportation fuel. The oil in KXL isn't "going" to the US, it's intended to feed Gulf Coast refineries that are operating below capacity, and from there into the 88-million-barrels-a-day global market. If it doesn't go to the US, it will find its way to that same market one way or another, so long as the global price per barrel is high enough for it to be profitable.
posted by gompa at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2013


Way more than 3,000.

And yeah, it's way incompetent as a totalitarian state. So incompetent that they issued permits to the protesters. A competent totalitarian state, like, wouldn't even have protest permits. What were they thinking?
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The environmentalists as terrorists stuff is Canadian, from recent revision of anti-terror legislation listing "Eco-extremists" alongside white supremacists.

The environmental movement has seen this as an attack on anti-pipeline and anti-tar sands organizing and part of Harper's PR strategy
posted by chapps at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the opposition to Keystone, assuming the sensitive ecosystems are bypassed

How do you 'bypass' ecosystems? Pave them over, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Climate change is driven by demand for energy, not by oil supply. There's lots of oil. It will come from Saudi Arabia or offshore drilling, if not Alberta. Maybe the protesters should hold signs supporting the House of Saud, Hugo Chavez and arctic offshore drilling, since those are the alternatives.
posted by Dasein at 3:13 PM on February 17, 2013


Maybe the protesters should hold signs supporting the House of Saud, Hugo Chavez and arctic offshore drilling, since those are the alternatives.

Or, reduction of oil consumption. Which the environmental movement is already also engaged heavily in.
posted by threeants at 3:16 PM on February 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


If only we could somehow get energy from the sun, or the wind, or the tides...
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't understand the opposition to Keystone, assuming the sensitive ecosystems are bypassed.

The sensitive ecosystem it would affect is the Earth. Sorry, but we don't have another planet to live on.
posted by limeonaire at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


How do you 'bypass' ecosystems? Pave them over, I guess.

Yeah, I think it gets real easy once you just destroy most of them. You can put up gift shops at the entrances to some of the remaining little patches and then only route a few of the smaller sort of highway through those bits. Problem solved. Anybody want some elk jerky or a magnet shaped like a pine tree?

If this were a competent totalitarian state that would be true.

Ok, yeah, this is true. What we really have is not a totalitarian state (at least not most of the time, in most of the parts of it that I live in, inside the borders where the rule of law is still a major factor). It's just a system of state and corporate power that long ago learned the important lessons about neutralizing protest, including the lessons about how to adapt to changing protest tactics as fast as dissident elements evolve new ones. This often entails a measure of militaristic police brutality and general abuse of civil liberties, but very rarely at a level beyond the amount of hippie punching that the general population will tolerate (and frequently demands).

See also: Occupy.
posted by brennen at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's lots of oil. It will come from Saudi Arabia or offshore drilling, if not Alberta.

It's real easy to say these things when you have no real knowledge of what's behind them.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


To follow up my comment (with its misspellings) above, the real immediate shame is that Canada's fortunes are tied to fossil fuels. Period. If this pipeline gets blocked, it will cause some economic hardship here, simply because the powers that be - the Alberta interests that bankroll the Conservative Party, and the shitheaded Mike Harris retreads that fuck around making policy - have systematically tied Canada's economy to digging stuff up out of the earth.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2013


To follow up my comment (with its misspellings) above, the real immediate shame is that Canada's fortunes are tied to fossil fuels. Period.

Hey now, we export so much more than just fossil fuels. Gas-guzzling SUVs, toilet paper made from old-growth forests, tainted beef, uranium, asbestos, fur, military hardware, whisky... The list goes on and on! You're welcome, everybody!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:11 PM on February 17, 2013


On a per gallon basis, is more carbon released by pumping oil and putting it in a very big tanker in Venezuela, Nigeria etc and shipping it to the US for consumption or though the dirty Canadian keystone option? Furthermore Are we fighting the wrong wars when it comes to carbon? ... i.e. coal and buildings?
posted by specialk420 at 9:53 PM on February 17, 2013


You do all realize that the way the crude (which is being produced) is currently shipped is primarily via rail. This includes the Bakken.

The latter link has one of the few discussions I've seen on the relative risk of train shipping vs. pipeline shipping (not that it's very sensible, the risk is of a full-train derailment, not 'one car leaking'. If the KeystoneXL doesn't go ahead, they will just scale up the rail shipping.
posted by grajohnt at 11:30 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best I can tell, the US wants to reduce its dependency on Middle Eastern oil. It's just really expensive to maintain a military that can seem to defend its claim to that oil. Let China have it, seems to be the idea.

That the global environment itself can't really handle this much carbon being emitted really hadn't figured into these equations.
posted by effugas at 11:34 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Future generations ... are going to despise us.

[if any]
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 4:38 AM on February 18, 2013


There's lots of oil. It will come from Saudi Arabia or offshore drilling, if not Alberta.

Ezra Levant, is it really you?
posted by sneebler at 7:24 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: How do you 'bypass' ecosystems?

By going outside the environment, of course.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:23 AM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dammit Greg_Ace, that was what I came here to post. Well done.
posted by spitefulcrow at 10:37 AM on February 18, 2013


Ezra Levant, is it really you?

Before anyone goes and buys that book (let alone any of the bullshit therein), it should be pointed out that Ezra Levant is in every way Canada's version of Glenn Beck and/or Ann Coulter -- only, if you can believe it, worse.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That book isn't big enough all the bullshit therein. But, we could power an eastern province by building a waste-to-energy conversion system around Mr. Levant.
posted by sneebler at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2013


Before anyone goes and buys that book (let alone any of the bullshit therein), it should be pointed out that Ezra Levant is in every way Canada's version of Glenn Beck and/or Ann Coulter -- only, if you can believe it, worse.

The ethical oil argument makes its way onto CBC news programs occasionally, and is voiced by many. It pays to be wary about the people who push that message, whether on news media or on web sites like Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Down The Pipe
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2013


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