Corporate Media Ignoring 5 Days of Sit-Ins and Arrests at the White House Protesting Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

by on August 24, 2011 · 6 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Environment

Editor: The mainstream, corporate media has been blatantly ignoring what’s been going on in Washington, DC.  There have been five days of sit-in’s and arrests at the White House in protest of the proposed oil pipeline.

By Frances Beinecke / HuffPost / August 24, 2011

It is the fifth day of the sit-ins at the White House urging President Obama to deny a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Today several environmental leaders and I sent a letter to the president saying that even if our groups do not engage in civil disobedience, we wholeheartedly share the protestors’ position that the proposed tar sands oil Keystone XL Pipeline will take America in the wrong direction.

As an organization dedicated to drafting and enforcing the law, NRDC does not take part in civil disobedience. But I have followed the pipeline sit-ins with great interest.

NRDC has opposed this pipeline and tar sands development from the beginning, and I am pleased that concern about this unsafe energy source has caught fire across America and ignited this civil protest in Washington.

Environmental activist Bill McKibben organized the two-week long event, and he’s been joined by farmers, ranchers, businesspeople, and landowners who live along the proposed pipeline route. They have traveled from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Montana because they feel so strongly that the pipeline will endanger their communities. Religious leaders and other concerned citizens from around the country have also come to tell President Obama that the pipeline is bad for America.

 Tar Sands Action Sit-In

From all accounts, the protestors have conducted themselves with calm dignity. As many as 220 have been arrested so far, including Gus Speth, a co-founder of NRDC, the former director of President Carter’s Council on Environmental Quality, and the former dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University.

Before his arrest, Speth told a reporter from Dow Jones that the pipeline would prolong America’s continued reliance on fossil fuels. “If we hook up the Alberta tar sands to America’s insatiable lust of gasoline, I worry they you can just kiss the planet good-bye.”

I have known Speth and McKibben for years, and I have tremendous respect for them. They have both demonstrated leadership within our movement, and they do so again with this event. I applaud them for acting on their conscience.

They know that this pipeline will take America down a dangerous path. Not only does tar sands oil produces three times as much global warming pollution as regular crude, but it is also highly corrosive. Carrying this dirty fuel across six states and the Ogallala Aquifer — the source for fresh water for the American Heartland — is inviting disaster.

Last summer, a pipeline carrying tar sands oil exploded in Michigan, contaminating the Kalamazoo River with heavy bitumen that sank to the bottom of the river where it has failed to biodegrade. The EPA says cleaning up the Kalamazoo could take years.

The American people do not risk more disasters when cleaner solutions exist. Last month, for instance, President Obama announced new fuel efficiency standards that will reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels a day by 2030 and cut automobile carbon emissions in half. They will also save Americans $80 billion a year at the pump.

Tar sands oil cannot match any of those achievements. Instead, it locks America into more carbon pollution and increased risk of oil spills. This does not fit in the clean energy future President Obama is trying to build. We hope the President listens to the many people who have risked arrest in order to send him a message: the Keystone XL pipeline is not in America’s national interest.

Frances Beinecke is the President of the Natural Resources Defense Council

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Allthink August 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Please join us September 24 in Balboa Park at 11:00am for a march and rally. This event is called “Moving Planet” and it is part of’s international campaign to move the planet past fossil fuel (Bill McKibben is Founder of

Congressman Bob Filner will be there to support our efforts.

Should you have any questions – email me at

Can We All Think?


avatar queen ayacodobae October 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm
avatar Allthink August 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm
avatar RB August 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Someone should give the protesters a paper. The reason they are being ignored is because the President is on vacation playing golf and not in the White House. I suggest you get a golf cart if you want to deliver a letter to the President.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

But the pipeline, however, would double our crude imports from Canada, right? Isn’t that a better alternative than continually relying on foreign crude? It’s all well and good for the President to want to improve fuel efficiency standards, but right now, it’s nothing more than talk. Manufacturers have no choice but to get on board, but it remains to be seen whether these benchmarks can be met. Of course, it’s a step in the path for the government and the EPA in putting an end to SUV’s and trucks, since they will be mighty difficult to bring into line with the aforementioned goals. Afterall, the President himself said as much in saying that car companies can’t continue to rely on the sale of them since they likely won’t meet the benchmarks.

While the article makes quite a few suppositions about what Americans want, one of them doesn’t include paying less at the pump right now, not 20 years down the line.


avatar queen ayacodobae October 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm

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