Climate Justice Activists in Portland, OR Occupy Exhibit for Tar Sands Profiteer ESCO Corp.

Today our friends at Portland Rising Tide exposed ESCO Corp as a major tar sands profiteer. They occupied an exhibit celebrating the corporation’s 100 year history of building heavy equipment used in fossil fuel extraction. Below is their full press release about the action.

Visit a tar sands profiteer’s office near you and sign up for our Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers, March 16-23.

Portland_ESCO History Action

This afternoon, February 17, dozens of concerned citizens expressed solidarity with climate protests around the country by occupying the Oregon History Society Museum’s ESCO exhibit: “ESCO Corporation.” Protesters used the space to share the real legacy that ESCO corp. is leaving on this planet and additionally took time to share individual hopes of the legacy they want to leave on this planet for future generations.

There couldn’t be more irony in OHS’s “celebrating 100 years of breaking new ground”. It must strongly be acknowledged that this point in history is marked by a radical degradation of the planet by human activity. Of the fundamental life sustaining boundaries on this planet we should not have crossed, we have already deeply disrupted climate change, biodiversity, and the nitrogen cycle in such profound ways that continued course in how we relate to the environment as a species threatens the world with the prospect of ecological collapse and mass extinction.

ESCO corp manufactures equipment and parts designed explicitly for resource extraction operations all over the world. Notably they supply extraction in the Alberta Tar sands and are in the process of strengthening their market share of coal mining equipment in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. Both of these projects are subject to much protest and resistance due to the very imminent danger they pose to this planet’s climate if fully exploited as intended by the fossil fuel industry. These projects singularly on their own have the capacity to push us into irreversible climate catastrophe. Continue reading »

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Voices of Resistance: Four Women Tell Why They’re Rallying in D.C.

Right now, the largest climate rally ever is taking place in Washington, D.C. Indigenous leaders, climate activists and members of affected communities are telling their stories to a crowd of 50,000 people and demanding that President Obama halt the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. As they make their voices heard, it is important to reflect that the fight against Keystone XL is about much more than asking a few privileged leaders to do the right thing. It’s about community resistance and resilience. It’s about traditionally marginalized people standing up to build a better future.

It’s not just about stopping the northern segment of KXL, but all of KXL. If the southern segment is completed, the fossil fuel industry will pump Athabascan tar sands to refineries along the Gulf. It’s about stopping the entire Keystone XL project, and doing it together in a way that works toward a more just, liberated world for all people, that strengthens our communities and prepares us for the coming storms and struggles of the twenty-first century.

Here are voices from some powerful women who have spent years fighting KXL in the north and the south:

Debra White Plume is a Lakota grandmother, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, and experienced blockader who was stopping Keystone XL machinery months before we at Tar Sands Blockade held our first action.

Debra White Plume being arrested at the White House in 2011

Debra White Plume being arrested at the White House in 2011

SHUT DOWN TAR SANDS by Debra White Plume

While citizens in Nebraska and all over the USA watched and waited for the decision of Nebraskan Governor Heinman to allow or prevent the construction of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in ‘his’ state, I cringed, because that mentality is damaging and part of the colonial construct. The Ogallala Aquifer does not acknowledge Governor Heinman. Nor does it acknowledge Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama. I also cringed because another chamber of the heart of the matter is where the tar sands are being mined and what that mining is doing to the Boreal Forest, the Athabascan River watershed, and the Red Nations People and all of life in that area.

The dirty tar sands mines in northern Canada have wreaked havoc on the lands and waters and all of life there, only to feed the insatiable greed-monster of the fossil fuel industry. The discussion must include the need to get off the fossil fuel train wreck that is ruining the Earth to line the pockets of a few. It must include the realization that the time is now for all mankind to re-evaluate their true wants and needs and decide if they want this pipeline so badly that they are willing to wreck the delicate balance we have already hurt so much.

It boils down to personal responsibility. We must see the truth or else continue to live in the many levels of denial that we all construct and make excuses for what the industry is doing with our support as inactive human beings. People need to have courage and take the stand that this fossil fuel industry and the tar sands mine is wrong and work to shut it down before it is too late. Allowing the pipeline is not only contributing to the continuation of tar sands extraction in Canada; it also risks our sacred water here. It WILL leak and spill and when it does, it cannot be cleaned up. The technology does not exist.

We have to be brave and strong and take action to stop that pipeline and shut down the tar sands oil mine. Look at the bigger picture: what kind of system tells people to value “economic growth” over stopping the biggest threat to the Ogallala Aquifer as well as countless other watersheds and the global climate as well? Who will take a stand to defend sacred water? The sacred water must be preserved for our coming generations. It is their water.

I hope everyone in Washington DC tomorrow yells out 4 times “SHUT DOWN TAR SANDS” in a combined voice of 30,000. That would make this Grandmother very, very happy. And the Universe may be listening.

-Debra White Plume


Vicki Baggett, Kerry Lemon, and Kathy DaSilva are members of NacSTOP (Nacogdoches County Stop Tarsands Oil Permanently) and have been spent years organizing in East Texas against the southern portion of KXL.
Earth is the Lords

Why I am going to Washington D.C. by Kerry Bryant Lemon


I am a lucky woman. I wake up in a quiet house where the songs of birds merge with the warmth of a fire in the wood heater and the smell of coffee. I live in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas and also in one of the largest natural gas fields in the country. Over the past 10 years my home has become a small wooded island in the midst of clear cuts and gas well pads. I have a natural gas transfer station on my land. New technologies have brought an inundation of drilling rigs, large trucks tearing up the roads, wasteful cutting of trees, intolerable noise, contamination of water and air, erosion problems in our waterways, and increased incidents of cancer in our communities. I have lived through fracking, and pipelines, strange sounds and odors, and a husband surviving leukemia. My closest neighbor is Exxon. In spite of public relation proclamations of being “good neighbors”, their presence in our lives has been disruptive and heartbreaking.

The southern leg of the TransCanada XL Pipeline is being constructed right now less than ten miles from my home. This is no ordinary pipeline. Probably what saved me from having this pipeline across my land is the already existing natural gas line that runs down my driveway and under my garden. My family has experienced firsthand the sickening realization that your land is not really your land in the face of big oil companies. What so many Americans don’t fully understand is that rural communities and people who are economically disenfranchised are being dumped on by the oil and gas industry. Those of us who have long family histories on these lands, those of us who have chosen to live outside the hectic life of big cities, and those of us who are just scrapping by day to day are all being forced to bear the burden of an industry that is more concerned with profit than safety, health, and quality of life.

Still…I am a lucky woman. I love my home, my gardens, my animals, and the trees that surround me. I love the earth – every part of her – the dark musky soil, the ancient rocks, the infinitely diverse green plants that cover her, the ever-changing sky that looks over her, the myriad of animals that wander across her – all of it.

I am going to Washington D.C. because I know about change. The accelerated climate change we are experiencing is happening because of the actions of humans. Humans have the unique gift of being dreamers and creators. We are not passive victims of change. We are participating partners in God’s world. We can make choices about what kind of change we want to support.

I am going to Washington D.C. because I want to make a statement that I AM HERE, that LOVING the earth is GOOD, that there is HOPE, that MIRACLES are possible. I believe that by coming together we can use our generous spirits, minds, and hands to create a larger vision that contains a future where the earth and her creatures live in balance together, where people live and work without fear, where all life is respected and considered. Every step toward a better world is an important one. I want to be part of any positive change that is coming.

-Kerry Bryant Lemon


How I Ended up at the Forward on Climate Rally in Washington, D.C. by Vicki Baggett

A dozen years ago I joined our local Sierra Group when it was reborn over a paper mill which was wreaking havoc on our local reservoir. Continue reading »

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48 Arrested at White House Fence In Opposition to Keystone XL

Washington, DC, February 13, 2013, 11:40am- Two Texas residents – Yudith Nieto of Manchester, Houston, and Jerry Hightower of rural Pittsburg – along with dozens of other environmental activists have placed themselves onto the north-facing fence of the White House to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Jerry has cuffed himself onto the fence and Yudith is sitting on the pavement against the fence. Cherri Foytlin, who in last October chained herself to the gates of a Keystone XL construction yard, is lined up alongside Jerry. They are joined by dozens of others impacted by the pipeline and engaged in the fight against tar sands to demand that President Obama deny the permit for Keystone XL, stop lying about his so-called past efforts to do so, and prohibit any future development related to tar sands.

Group photo of protesters courtesy of Shadia Fayne Wood

Group photo of protesters courtesy of Shadia Fayne Wood

Arrestee Spotlight

Check out this list of participants in this Tar Sands Action and learn why these people have decided to risk arrest against KXL. Also check out our spotlight below on two Texan residents who drove all the way to DC to deliver their cries for justice and offer hope through civil disobedience.

Yudith Nieto


Yudith Nieto


I am committed to amplifying the voices of communities of color that are systematically silenced, like mine, that are being affected by environmentally destructive industries, and experience environmental racism and classism. I am participating in this action because I believe it will help me to advocate for my community and further my ability to help make their voices a part of this movement to empower people to build a community of resistance to confront these injustices.”


Yudith Nieto was born in Mexico and grew up in the fence-line refining community of Manchester in Houston, TX. Living in a community that is being exploited by industry inspired Yudith to become involved in the environmental justice movement. Yudith has worked with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and has been organizing with the Tar Sands Blockade for the past 3 months to organize direct actions and advocate for her community. Yudith works with 3rd and 4th graders in the Southwest side of Houston coordinating a Healthy Living program and teaching children about environmental issues that affect their communities. Yudith is dedicated to confronting the petrochemical industries that perpetuate environmental racism and classism in marginalized communities of color.

Jerry Hightower


Jerry Hightower

My name is Jerry Hightower. I am a Texas born American who loves my state and my country. For the last several months I have had to stand by and watch a land grab occur by a foreign company (TransCanada) through my entire state and family’s front yard. This is all after President Obama was on the national news stating that he had stopped the pipeline. I want this path of destruction to end.”


Jerry is nephew to David Hightower, whose muscadine grape vineyard was destroyed by Keystone XL construction despite protests by Tar Sands Blockade and the objections of the local community.

Continue reading »

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