22 Dems Think Keystone XL Is Cool, But I Don’t

I’ve been blogging about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline will drastically expand tar sands extraction in Canada and accelerate the harm the tar sands are causing the people and planet. If you are reading this blog, you know that the extraction of the tar sands in northern Alberta, is the largest and most destructive industrial project in human history, you know that the irrevocable destruction this extraction causes is severe – to the water, flora, fauna and land. You also know that communities downstream of the Athabasca River suffer pollution and devastating health impacts, literally killing First Nation members. And you know that oil companies are trouncing treaty and Indigenous rights in northern Alberta.

Most importantly, now it’s time to take action. This Tuesday in San Francisco President Obama will be at a $7500 per plate lunch with his biggest donors at the W Hotel (3rd St. and Howard St) and I’ll be outside (at 11:30am) with the good folks at CREDO Action telling President Obama that the Keystone XL pipeline is not the kind of change I was expecting from his administration. And as he contemplates green lighting the pipeline, on November 6th I’ll join thousands of others in front of the White House to tell Obama that he’s got the support he needs to say No to the Keystone XL pipeline, and say NO to EXPANDING the largest and most destructive industrial project in human history.

To join me in San Francisco on Tuesday, sign up here.

You need to speak up now! On Tuesday twenty-two (22) Democrats did – in support of the Keystone XL pipeline project. They wrote a letter, in support of the project, which was announced by the corporation that expects to build the pipeline – TransCanada.

Oil Change International has posted a great retort to their arguments for Keystone XL based on the claim to create energy security and jobs which pretty much closes the case. If you still need more, check out this blog by John Vaillant (author, The Golden Spruce) and Andrew Nikiforuk (author, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent) where they state, ‘In sum, the Keystone pipeline will not serve American interests but delight the Canadian government and its oil lobby. In addition to draining your pocketbooks and further compromising your environmental health, it will enrich Canadian politicians who don’t believe in climate change.  Your own Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Dependence begets subservience and venality.”’ Boom.

There are some great actions happening around the country

Midwest Powershift is this weekend!

Follow the Cincinnati, OH Midwest Powershift conference this weekend – as hundreds of youth take on the tar sands. Janina says it’s going to be EPIC and will host the largest tar sands action that the Midwest has seen yet. Organizers say, “People around the country have been standing up to say no to this disastrous pipeline. In the last week there have been three youth-led rallies to tell Obama “Yes We Can Stop the Pipeline,” including one in St. Louis, MO. At Midwest Power Shift we’ll come together for an action to bring our voices together and make it clear to President Obama that young people across the Midwest refuse to let this pipeline cut through our heartland.” Yeah!  The just-posted schedule is here.

Onwards to DC on November 6th

Before there was #occupy this fall, thousands showed up in September at the White House and Parliament to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline – loud and clear! Lots of updates appear daily on the Tar Sands Action site with info about the action on Nov 6. As they say in the Call to Action,

“… there’s real momentum for action, and real need. We have less than 90 days to convince the President not to approve the pipeline. So here’s the thing: we need your help again. We need you to keep using your creativity and bodies as a part of this struggle—to fight this fight even though there’s no guarantee of victory … On Sunday November 6 we will return to Washington. Exactly one year before the election, we want to encircle the whole White House in an act of solemn protest. We need to remind President Obama of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. This issue is much bigger than any individual person, President or not, and that we will carry on, with or without him.”

Join me, and thousand others – sign up here.

And finally:

Friends at 350.org want us all to know: Why should people who care about the climate join the #occupy movement? Here’s one answer: for years, Wall Street has been occupying our atmosphere, backing the huge oil, gas and coal corporations that have polluted our air, water and communities with impunity. And time and again, these members of the 1% have blocked the clean energy and climate legislation that would benefit the other 99% of us.

If you can’t come Nov 6th, follow the action and learn more about what you can do here.

The third national Powershift conference was held last month in Washington D.C. It was also my third national Powershift conference. The conference overall was a big success, reports were that close to 10,000 people turned out to the Convention Center in Washington D.C.

The 2011 Powershift was framed by an Obama Administration wavering on its support of clean energy, the anniversary of the BP oil spill and the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Powershift conferences are the single most effective event in mobilizing young people around energy and climate issues in the past 5 years. National and Regional Powershift conferences have effectively mobilized 40,000 youth across the country during this time, with those 40,000 youth leaving the conferences and joining the efforts of the Energy Action Coalition partner organizations, including Global Exchange.

While the conferences have brought together young people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, the general message coming out of Powershift conferences is to demand action from governments and corporations.

And rightfully so.

The Federal Government has stalled out on significant action to pass a comprehensive climate & energy bill, and fossil fuel energy corporations have recorded an unparalleled series of blunders that have threatened peoples lives and the very ecosystem from which we depend on.

For most Powershift attendees, the conference has been a relief to know that they are not alone in witnessing the insanity of humanity to not deal with climate change and to not unlock the revolutionary power of a transition from dirty fossil fuels to community wealth building renewable energy.

The 2011 conference had a significantly different feel to it than the conferences over the past four years. The collective experience of the young people at the conference brought forth a more diverse message and a movement that is now prepared to take deeper action.

Powershift Nation was less optimistic in President Obama’s ability to make the changes that many in the movement either campaigned directly for him to make or voted for him with the belief that this President would be different. The conference was a wake up call for the grassroots of Powershift that now is the time to start building a more radical and aggressive movement on the ground in communities across the country. Without or without the support of President Obama!

This sentiment even broke through to the national media. Global Exchange partner organization Grand Aspirations’ Matt Kazinka summed this up well in an article from the NY Times:

“I feel like in many ways, a big opportunity was missed to do climate legislation,” said Matt Kazinka, a junior environmental studies major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. “Right now it seems like there isn’t a lot of opportunity to push large-scale climate legislation through.

“But I also think it’s a good moment for the climate movement to step back and say, ‘Maybe right now the large-scale political approach isn’t going to work,’ just given what’s happening,” he said.

Kazinka volunteered for Obama’s campaign two years ago. Now he’s torn over what he sees as a lack of leadership from Obama on the issue and the reality of a political climate that’s limiting the president, he said. Kazinka isn’t alone.

Not only was the larger conference impacted by the political and economic realities of the past 4 years, our Global Exchange Powershift team from Detroit brought forth a unique strategy to the 2011 conference. In collaboration with Green For All and Grand Aspirations, we facilitated the Clean Economy Track, which presented information and strategies being used across the country to specifically build an economic engine that matches the political activism being created by Energy Action Coalition.

It offered a concurrent program to conference participants. While some participants were learning how to tell their story and build organizing teams through the training organized by the New Organizing Institute, the Clean Economy Track presented to people that opportunity to “be” the story and focused more specifically on what organizing teams can do once they are built.

The twin tracks complimented each other and gave a coordinated parting message from Powershift 2011 that young people are ready to start building the clean economy on the ground as opposed to just protest and organize for actions.

This new message was the most easily distinguishable quality of the 2011 conference compared to Powershifts from the past. Powershifters were effectively dismissing the political climate and the disappointment in Obama’s inaction by reorienting and diversifying the movement from lobbying nationally to action locally and from campaigning to business development. We all know we need both, Powershift 2011 was the manifestation of a movement’s collective epiphany.



Powershift 2011 is over. But there is a new opportunity to join the movement coming up. It’s called the Green Economy Leadership Training.

Today, you are being presented with a choice, an opportunity that could ultimately shape the rest of your life. Today, you are learning for the first time about the Green Economy Leadership Training.  Today, you are being invited to join the ranks of the most committed, well trained, impactful people of your generation.  If you choose to accept this invitation, you will shape the future of Highland Park and Detroit.

What you will be learning:

  • You will grow food, produce renewable energy & use energy more efficiently, transform infrastructure.
  • You will become a solution focused individual that recognizes opportunities to participate in improving communities, corporations, governments and institutions.
  • You will learn how to lead projects that will alter the course of the 21st century.
  • You will learn how Detroit and Highland Park are the silicon valley of the green economy.


Program Details:
Location: Highland Park, MI
Dates: June 6th – August 8th.
Sign-up: www.distributedpower.org

See you there?