Carleen DC NoXL

Carleen Pickard at Stop Keystone XL protest in DC, 2011 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

On a sunny November in 2011 thousands of us encircled the White House to say No to Keystone XL. This, after other direct actions in both Ottawa and DC also demanding rejection of the pipeline demonstrated our collective force for action on climate change.

It’s time again. President Obama must move America Forward on Climate in 2013 with decisive action to reduce dangerous carbon pollution.

Obama’s legacy as the 44th President of the United States of America rests squarely on his leadership in the face of an unstable climate future. The first milestone for President Obama is to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

FOClogoJoin me and thousands of others in DC on Sunday, February 17th over President’s Day weekend  – and show President Obama that the progressive movement and the communities that helped secure his victory are coming together to hold him to his promises.

  • What: The largest climate rally in history
  • Where: The National Mall in Washington, D.C., including a march to the White House
  • When: February 17, 2013, Noon – 4:00 p.m. (please arrive by 11:30 a.m.)
  • More Details:

Lead organizers and the Sierra Club report that more than 16,000 people are signed up to attend (and counting!)

Take-ActionTAKE ACTION! Support the rally and efforts to get tens of thousands present.

Consider making a donation to Global Exchange so we can be on the frontlines to say No to Keystone XL and elsewhere as we build an unstoppable movement for change together.

Stop the Tar Sands!



It seems unbelievable, but right now, the Senate is considering legislation that would resurrect the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The same pipeline that President Obama sanely rejected last month.

We need to act fast. Please act immediately and send a message to Congress, urging our elected representatives to block any efforts to revive the tar sands pipeline and reject the pressure that Big Oil lobbyists are applying. A deal might be coming together in the next 24 hours.

We’re part of the massive effort to send over 500,000 messages to Congress in under 24 hours. The time to send your message is now.

Bill McKibben, founder had this to say:

Anyone who thought environmentalists were graying into irrelevance was wrong…If we can keep this momentum up for another 18 hours we’ll have our half million signatures, and we’ll have proof that Americans who are paying attention want the president’s courage backed up by the Congress.

Once you’ve signed and made your voice heard, check out this photo-documentary just completed by Ben Powless. Make sure to scroll over the ‘READ’ graphic to hear stories from those fighting for justice.

Take action now!

Wait a minute! Hang on! Didn’t we celebrate that Obama announced that the Keystone XL permit decision (whether or not approve TransCanada’s application to build a mega pipeline to transport dirty tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico) was off the agenda until 2013? Yes, we did. BUT then the payroll tax cut extension came up for consideration in Congress and outraged Republicans decided to attach legislation forcing President Obama to approve or deny Keystone XL in sixty days. This happened on December 23. Happy Holidays climate change, environmental destruction and indigenous rights.

Since then advocates for Keystone XL have put the full court press on President Obama –  pressuring, lobbying, tweeting, blogging, placing ads and demanding Obama’s approval:

TransCanada can’t stop talking about all the jobs they want to create if Keystone XL is approved. (The Center for Economic and Policy Research‘s economist Dean Baker debunked these numbers on Jan 2.)

On Jan 4, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched a ‘countdown clock’ asking, “Will President Obama choose jobs and energy security for America?” If you are not great at math, like me, the clock is kind of handy.

Lobbyists for the oil industry – The American Petroleum Institute – launched ads on Jan 11. Ah, lobbyists.

Speaker John Boehner blogged on Jan 13 asking what you’d decide if you were President, and is asking for feedback: “Let Speaker Boehner know in the comments section … on Google+, on Twitter using the #KXL hash tag, and on Facebook by answering our Question here.” Take action, friends!

So, while all this is going on the count down to a thumbs down is on. Obama’s spent twenty-one days, seventeen hours and two minutes (of his sixty days) from the time this blog is posted. In December White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that the countdown “simply shortens  the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved.” Today Business Week quoted Mike McKenna, an oil-industry lobbyist and president of MWR Strategies Inc. in Washington, saying, “The president is going to say no. The only recourse the Republicans have is to make it painful, politically, for him.”

Months ago Maude Barlow recounted a conversation that she had with a taxi driver in DC on her way to participate in the days of protest to stop Keystone XL this summer. She asked the man what Obama should decide on the pipeline. He said that Obama is in a tough place, if he approves the project he’ll anger his supporters who elected him but if he denies it, he’ll anger the big corporations pressuring for approval. Maude agreed and then asked him again what he though that Obama should do. The driver responded, ‘If Obama can’t please everyone, then he should do the right thing and deny the pipeline’.

Below is a short film about tar sands extraction – beyond Keystone XL, other oil giants are working to increase extraction in other directions, from northern Alberta to the west coast through a project called the Northern Gateway. This short film was ranked as one of the Top Ten Revolutionary Videos of 2011.

The Obama administration announced today that the Presidential approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will be delayed until 2013 due to concerns about the proposed routing of the pipeline through Nebraska and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Less than a week after 12,000 people surrounded the White House at a mass day of action, the news is a step in the right direction to cancel the project  entirely.

The Obama Administration sent back the permit application to the State Department for a re-review and stated that climate change was a major factor that needed to be re-assessed.

This is a HUGE victory. Just months ago this was considered a ‘done deal’. But with our voices and actions we have been able to send a clear message to the Obama Administration that we will not stand idly while corporations insist on destroying our environment for monetary gain.

But, the fight is not over. While the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport 900,000 barrels of crude a day, two other pipelines in Canada — the Alberta Clipper and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project pipelines — remain a threat for all the reasons Keystone XL is a crazy idea. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians spoke about the pipelines on Nov 6 in front of the White House.

We celebrate this victory around the Keystone XL approval delay. We, with many of you, will follow the review process and make sure that Keystone XL is cancelled.

Earlier this week Bill McKibben called Keystone XL and TransCanada (the company chomping to build the pipeline) the ‘poster child’ for the #occupy movement and we will continue to challenge harmful, destructive projects and work towards a just, safe and resilient future.

Bill McKibben and Tar Sands Action have lead a tremendous campaign this year. Our highest hat tip goes to the folks over there. Read their next steps here.

Gandhi and spinning wheel, Gandhian Legacy Tour by Malia Everette

Lately Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, of forceful truth and love, known as Satyagraha, has occupied my heart and mind.

As many of us here at Global Exchange witness and support the nonviolent direct action protests in the US and around the world, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tar Sands Movement taking on the Keystone XL pipeline, I remember the living philosophical teachings of Gandhi as shared and taught by his grandson Dr. Arun Gandhi during the Gandhian Legacy Reality Tour I was so blessed to join in 1999 and 2009.

Dr.Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, leads our annual co-sponsored delegation with the assistance of  his son Tushar Gandhi.  For 14 years now this tour has retraced the footsteps of  the Independence movement and also highlighted Gandhi’s philosophies thriving in diverse organizations, rural development agencies, women’s cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and Fair Trade cooperatives across India.As Arun mentions, nonviolence is a lifestyle, and an active one!

Here is more from Arun Gandhi about his grandfather’s philosophy:

The Gandhian Legacy Reality Tour 2009 by Garth Dyke

Mohandas K. Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence is like the iceberg — what is visible is only a fraction of what is hidden. Scholars have analyzed over and over the part that deals with political conflicts and independence of nations, because they insist that nonviolence is simply a strategy of convenience.  

Gandhi said:  This philosophy is not like a jacket that you wear when necessary and discard when not.  Nonviolence is a life style that one has to adopt which means allowing all the love, understanding, respect, compassion, acceptance and appreciation to emerge and dominate one’s attitude. Then we will be able to build good relationships not only within the family but outside of the family.  We will no longer be selfish and greedy but magnanimous and giving.

It is no longer a secret that official India had abandoned Gandhi’s philosophy upon gaining independence. However, there are many at the grassroots level, young and old, who are still inspired by his philosophy and have put it into action to bring about a qualitative change in the Indian society.  Many have started projects to bring solace to the poor of whom there are more than 500 million in India.

Man Weaving Cotton, Gandhian Legacy Tour by Malia Everette

The Gandhi Legacy Tour explores these projects in the cities and in the villages to see first hand how people have used Gandhi’s philosophy in every day life.  How they are trying to deal with conflict situations constructively.  It is an unusual tour in as much as we visit places where normal tourists do not go, we are hosted by the poor in city slums and in traditional India.  Among the many diversities in India the one that divides the westernised urban India and the traditional rural India is the most odious.  Urban India is not India at all and we shall explore this on the tour, while the traditional India is the true heart of India.  The experience of traveling with the Gandhi Family is both educative and enjoyable.  Come and experience it for yourself.

Singing A Round with Dr. Arun Gandhi, the Gandhian Legacy Tour 2009

Passive resistance and compassion are perhaps some of the easy takeaways from Gandhi’s Legacy.  When I returned from the Gandhian Legacy Reality Tour in 2009 I made a personal commitment to trusteeship.  We each have a talent that we have acquired or inherited. We can use this to achieve our goals, our personal ambitions, and we can use it to be in service to others. I’ve made personal and professional changes in my life because of Satyagraha. Reflecting on the resurgence of social movements I am reminded by other tenants of Gandhi’s philosophy: self reliance and self sufficiency; political and economic decentralization; the minimization of competition and exploitation in society and economy and the enhancement of cooperation; respect for labor and rural life; production based on need and not just profit maximization; and a deep respect for the natural environment.

Take Action! If you need to break away from your day to day, reflect, learn and (re)engage then join Dr. Gandhi on this Gandhian Legacy Reality Tour or consider how Satyagraha might inspire you in 2012.

The title steals the last line from Tar Sands Action‘s morning blog (“It’s going to be very good day for the 99% of us who aren’t an executive at TransCanada.”) with the update that it WAS a great day. By official count 12,000 of us participated in the Day of Action to surround the White House. Some called it a “giant hug”, some said we’d “encircle the White House to show President Obama that he has the support he needs to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline” and at last night’s meet up and strategy session Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein said that some could also call it “a house arrest”.

Read Global Exchange’s twitter feed for posts and pictures as it was happening.

a quarter of the crowd gathered in Lafayette Park before we encircled

This Sunday at noon we gathered, we got our posters, we saw friends, we cheered as contingents from across the country entered

Lafayette Park and excitement built as Bill McKibben welcomed us all. Then Mike Brune from the Sierra Club,  Mark Ruffalo, James Hansen, Naomi Klein, Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams, Vice President of the Oglala Lakota Nation Tom Poor Bear, Rev Lennox Yearwood and the president of Sojourners, elected reps from TN and MD, a rancher from Nebraska, the president of the Transport Workers Union all joined the stage to explain the terrors of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and quantify this tipping point moment to stop it’s approval by President Obama before the end of the year.

thanks James Ploeser for the photo!

THEN WE DID IT! We got instructions from the Tar Sands Action team (BRAVO to all of you btw!) and headed in 3 teams to completely encircle the White House. And we did it not just in one ring, but in some places two and three rings deep. A giant, long, inflated, black ‘pipeline’ marched back and forth as we chanted ‘Yes You Can, Stop The Pipeline’ over and over and over again.

As the sun set over Lafayette Park we returned for celebratory speeches from Maude Barlow, Dick Gregory, members of Gulf oil disaster impacted communities, Jane Kleeb from BOLD Nebraska (who convinced us all we are pipeline fighters, Sand Hill lovers and Ogallala Aquifer lovers), Physicians for Social Responsibility, a First Nations Chief from British Columbia, chief  and heard a message from Van Jones.

Board member and friend Deborah James and I this afternoon

We know what happened today – it’s been decades since an issue has brought these numbers to Washington to demonstrate such strong support for a President to stand up against corporate interests and be held accountable to his own campaign promises. We demonstrated the very best of our people power. We just need to hear from the President that he was listening.

Send a message to the President now – click here to tell Obama to reject the pipeline. There is no time to wait.

Over a thousand of us turned out on Tuesday – adding San Francisco to the growing list of cities President Obama has been greeted in protest since civil disobedience actions in Washington DC and Ottawa this September. At Organizing for America 2012 campaign offices, fundraisers, speeches and rallies – thousands of people have taken the fight to communities and are keeping the pressure on the President to reject Keystone XL.

In San Francisco on Tuesday, CREDO Action organized with ex-Obama supporters including 31-year-old Elijah Zarlin who wrote fundraiser e-mails in 2008 for Obama. He said,

“In the last election I was at the campaign headquarters in Chicago writing fundraising e-mails to help generate the small-dollar donations that helped elect Barack Obama president. But this week I’m working with CREDO Action and helping to organize over 1,000 people to stand with me outside one of President Obama’s high-dollar fundraisers, asking him to deliver on the change he promised us–by stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.”

As the clock ticks towards President Obama’s decision on Keystone, thousands of us prepare to participate in a huge action on November 6 in Washington DC – exactly one year before the election, we want to encircle the whole White House to ask President Obama to live up to his promise to free us from the tyranny of oil and say no to Keystone XL. Find out more about the action here.

For pictures from the rally, see Global Exchange’s Facebook page and’s album

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 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.

Photo Credit: Tar Sands Action (video still)

On Sunday, November 6th the Tar Sands Action will return to Washington D.C. for a massive rally that sends an unmistakable message to the President.

The following is a statement and call to action issued by a diverse group of movement leaders about this momentous action:

Exactly one year before the next presidential election, we want to encircle the whole White House to ask President Obama to reject Keystone XL and live up to his promise to free us from the tyranny of oil. In doing so, we want to remind him of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. This is bigger than any one person – President or no – and we will carry on, with or without him.

We’ve never tried something this ambitious before, and we don’t know if there are the thousands of people that it will take to encircle the White House. But if we can pull it off, it will be an unmistakable message. Also, we’re not expecting any arrests at this action, which means that anyone and everyone is able to participate.

Bill McKibben had this message to share about the Nov. 6th event:

November 6th will be a crucial moment for everyone hoping to stop Keystone  XL. We don’t have very much time – the President will make a decision about the pipeline in  December – so it’s critical that we make this action as large as  possible. If the President sees that our movement has the strength to do something as ambitious as encircle the White House, he’ll know there  will be real consequences for not living up to his promises. We hope that exactly one year from the next election, he would take that as a sign he needs to change course and start living up to the high expectations he set in 2008.


Join the sit-in this Monday, October 26!

Update: Monday Sept 26 – over 180 people were arrested for trespassing on Parliament Hill this morning including Maude Barlow, national chairperson at the Council of Canadians, Dave Coles, President of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers union and CEP Executive Assistant, Fred Wilson, Graham Saul of Climate Action Network and Mikisew Cree George Poitras. Check here for photos: CEP’s flickr photostream and Council of Canadians photostream
Thank you everyone!

On Monday, Sept 26 hundreds will gather in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, to protest the building of the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

On the heels of the massive Tar Sands Action at the White House at the end of August, the invitation to mirror the DC action was issued by the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environment Network with a long list of expert, celebrity, organization and activist endorsements. While we in the US work to show President Obama that he has the support to stand up to the oil and gas industry and say no to the pipeline (he’s scheduled to approve the application this year), our Canadian and First Nations friends will be pressuring Prime Minister Harper to stop this massive increase in tar sands exploitation.

In August, I posted a blog with a link to a short film I helped put together called The Oil Up There. It’s worth encouraging you and others to watch it again – and remind ourselves why an expansion of the tar sands is a disaster for both people and the planet.

Daily from August 20 – September 3, hundreds of people joined the Tar Sands Action in Washington DC, where more than 1200 people were arrested at the White House in what is being called the largest act of civil disobedience in defense of the environment in US history.

The DC days of action were colourful and moving and folks from all across the continent stepped up. It’s been noted that a photo of the arrest of NASA scientist James Hansen sums up the dire and immediate situation if Keystone XL goes ahead. In 1988 he testified on climate change to congressional committees about global warming and the need to take action to limit climate change. Twenty-three years later that message needs to be heard louder than ever.

This week the Canadian Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) held a briefing with Members of Parliament, calling for a reversal of the Keystone XL permit and raised questions about the apparently expired certificate approval held by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline CP Ltd, and whether President Obama thus has the ability to approve an international pipeline with an expired certificate and required National Energy Board (NEB) approval. In a letter to the NEB dated September 23, they note:

Condition #22 to that Certificate stipulated that:
Unless the Board otherwise directs prior to 11 March 2011, this Certificate shall expire on 11 March 2011 unless construction in respect of the Project has commenced by that date.
Our understanding is that the Board made no direction prior to March 11, 2011, and that no construction in respect of the Project had commenced by that date. Accordingly, OC-56 expired on March 11, 2011, and there is no current approval that would allow TCPL to proceed further with the Keystone XL pipeline.

Stay tuned.

To my friends in Canada, I wish I could be there with you on Monday, and thank you/meegwetch!

For those of you in Canada, visit the Ottawa Tar Sands Action web page to find out how you can get involved. Read Council of Canadians campaigner, Andrea Harden-Donahue’s, thoughts before the protest, here.

 In the U.S., the actions against the Tar Sands have not slowed. According to, the State Department is holding a number of public hearings on the proposed pipeline, and community members are being asked to attend the meetings and testify.

Get involved from wherever you are and STOP KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE.