Tar Sands Blockade flies into action as ground breaks on southern leg of Keystone XL

Tar Sands Blockade flies into action as ground breaks on southern leg of Keystone XL

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Today, Tar Sands Blockade kicked off a sustained, direct action campaign to stop the construction of the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline through Oklahoma and Texas. The grassroots organization, comprised of concerned landowners, farmers, climate activists and community members who run the gamut from Tea Party members to Occupy activists, unfurled banners in opposition to this reckless project at numerous construction sites across East Texas and Cushing, Oklahoma. Coordinated solidarity events also took place in Dallas and Houston, Texas. Tar Sands Blockade members today faced off against bulldozers at constructions sites, holding signs declaring “STOP Keystone XL” and “No Tar Sands in Texas,” and Blockade organizers have promised to use other forms of peaceful, non-violent action to halt construction.

The start of construction on the southern segment of the pipeline comes after TransCanada received the last of three permits from the Army Corps of Engineers in July, giving the company permission to build the pipeline without assessing the impacts on individual river crossings along the pipeline route. In the process of building Keystone XL, TransCanada will threaten our land, water and air with some of the world’s dirtiest oil, tar sands oil. The pipeline’s predecessor, the Keystone I, reported 12 spills in the last 12 months, proving the inherent danger and unreliability of tar sands pipelines and the hazard they pose to aquifers that supply clean drinking water, to local agricultural economies and to communities’ health. Tar Sands Blockade activists unfurl banner

Longer term, the threat of tar sands oil pipelines like Keystone XL is similarly alarming. To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep tar sands oil in the ground, not build massive new spigots to fuel its exploitation. The completion of the southern segment of Keystone XL would increase reliance on unsustainable, highly toxic tar sands while allowing the tar sands industry the crucial link it needs to siphon tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, home of the largest oil refining capacity in the world and ports to international markets. President Obama, after initially rejecting the pipeline in January in the face of widespread, escalated activism, pulled a complete about-face in calling to expedite the southern segment in March.

TransCanada’s exploitation of a weak regulatory process for the southern segment of Keystone XL is not going unopposed. Tar Sands Blockade and numerous community members affected by the pipeline’s threats are stepping up a campaign to peacefully obstruct the toxic project, acting in solidarity with landowners as they meet with local officials, circulate petitions and plan direct actions.

National and local environmental and public interest groups, including Friends of the Earth, are supporting Tar Sands Blockade’s actions in acknowledging that the struggle to halt the Keystone XL pipeline is a cooperative effort that unites national and grassroots groups alike to protect our communities and climate.

To stay updated, follow Tar Sands Blockade at its website, on Twitter at @KXLBlockade, and on its Facebook site.

Image credit: Banner drops in Oklahoma and Texas- Tar Sands Blockade

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