Keystone protestors to surround White House, Nov. 6th


in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

This Sunday, protestors opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline are planning to surround the White House, in Washington D.C.

If built, the Keystone pipeline would run from the oil sands in Alberta down to the Gulf Coast in the United States. People are rightly worried about the danger of spills over the long pipeline route. Far more worrisome, however, are the climatic consequences of digging up and burning all that oil. Given what we know about climate change, exploiting the oil sands is unethical. As such, efforts to block the oil in by preventing the construction of pipelines are to be welcomed.

This protest is a follow-up to the two-week protest I attended this summer. I wish I could attend again, but I am too busy with GRE prep to make the bus journey to Washington. Lots of others will be there, however, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld).

I really encourage those who are near Washington and concerned about climate change to attend. It may be needlessly divisive to say this, but I would argue that attending this protest would be far more productive and meaningful than attending one of the various ‘Occupy’ protests happening around North America. The demands of this action are focused and important. Blocking this pipeline would make a real difference for the future of the world, and it is plausible that a sufficient level of public pressure will drive President Obama to make that choice.

Please consider contributing to that pressure.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh November 4, 2011 at 12:03 am

I agree that the Keystone protest is much more focussed and targetted, and hence more likely to acheive a specific result. The Occupy movement also has a role. Both raise awareness.

I wonder which has the greater potential of effecting change, or of alienating the majority of people. I think Keystone for the former and Occupy for the latter.

. November 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

Taking The Fight Against The Tar Sands Pipeline Back To The White House

Written by: Bill Mckibben

Before Occupy Wall Street, there were already headline grabbing protests about corporate intrusion in politics. On November 6, the protests against the government’s approval of the proposed pipeline to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico are headed back to Washington to confront Obama with his own environmental record.

klem November 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Go ahead, surround the whitehouse. I’m sure no one will percieve it as a threat. Go ahead. No really.

I can’t wait for this to be shown on tv; I’ll get the popcorn and beer ready, this should be entertaining.


Anon November 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The event organizers have a good working relationship with the Park Police and the Secret Service, and both of those organizations know what to expect.

The organizers also have a team of over 100 monitors and marshals ready to make sure everything goes smoothly.

The two-week protest this August and Septembet went completely smoothly, with no violence of any kind.

klem November 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

“The two-week protest this August and Septembet went completely smoothly, with no violence of any kind.”

And no media coverage either.


Milan November 5, 2011 at 10:33 am

Actually, the Keystone XL protests got lots of media coverage and really raised the profile of the issue in Canada and the United States:

Before the protests, it seemed virtually certain that approval for the pipeline would be granted by the Obama administration. Now, it seems there is a decent chance the pipeline will be rejected.

The protest surrounding the White House tomorrow should improve the odds of rejection still further.

Milan November 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

A selection of media coverage from August and September:

Google ‘Keystone protest’ and the name of any major newspaper and you are likely to get results. I even got interviewed for CBC radio.

. November 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm
. November 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm
. November 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

Fact Check: Keystone XL will not reduce oil imports from Middle East

The Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline will not reduce dependence on imports from the Middle East, an analysis conducted for the Department of Energy revealed a year ago. The hope of getting away from oil from the volatile region is a favored talking point by proponents. “The Keystone project has the potential to significantly reduce oil imports from the Middle East,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has claimed. However, an analysis by Department of Energy contractor Ensys Energy in December 2010 found that the pipeline would have virtually no impact on Middle East imports [PDF]

oleh November 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

Not only did the Keystone Protests in Washington generate media coverage, they generated postive media coverage because of the respectful way in which the protesters behaved. We have read about protests that where violent protesters generate a negative impact because of their violence. This is not the case with the Keystone civil disobedience protest.

klem November 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

Oops, today is November 7th and the Keystone protest generated almost zero media coverage yesterday.

This foreshadows the upcoming climate meeting in Durban, I predict almost no media coverage there either. No leaders are going to be there, I’ll wager even Al Gore himself will find an excuse to not attend. Of course some protester will show up to make noise and get arrested. Oh well…


Matt November 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm


I noticed today in my (unmodified) Google news feed, the very first article in the business section was a Wall Street Journal article about Keystone, with 764 other sources reporting the story. The article mentions the protests and environmental opposition.

But, that aside, media coverage is not a reliable metric of something’s merit.

Milan November 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I also saw a large number of news stories earlier today:

I agree with Matt, however, that media coverage isn’t an unproblematic measure of merit.

klem November 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

I guess I was wrong, there was a short piece yesterday about the protest on the third page of my local paper. That’s more than I expected I’ll give you that. Not bad.

oleh November 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

A key measure of success is the decision of the Obama administration to revisit the Keystone XL pipeline. I see this as even more important than the amount of media coverage of the protest. (which co-incidentally seemed quite evident in the Canadian media.)

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