Day 3: Blockades and Bikes From Coast to Coast

The third day of the Stop Tar Sands Profiteers Week of Action continues strong with over 40 rallying at a Michels Construction office outside Seattle, an anti-fracking blockade in New York that resulted in twelve arrests, and a polluter bike tour in Portland, Oregon. 


Monday, March 18 – Over 40 rally outside Michels Corporation in Kirkland, Washington 

A group of 40 citizens, including representatives from Idle No More, gathered in front of a Michels office in Kirkland, WA to deliver an official letter demanding they stop building the Keystone XL pipeline. Chants and songs went on for an hour and at one point there was an open mic where a woman from the Oglala Lakota nation spoke about how she lost her husband to cancer living near the tar sands operations. Check out the great coverage in the local Kirkland Reporter.

See more stunning photos from Alex Garland Photography here.

seattle action

Seattle Michels March

And watch their video here!


Monday, March 18 – Twelve Arrested for Blockading Fracking Site in Upstate New York

Twelve protestors were arrested this morning after linking arms and blockading the entrance of an Inergy fracking facility in Watkins Glen, New York. Much like other forms of extreme energy extraction, fracking and tar sands are closely related because natural gas is required to pump diluted bitumen through pipelines like KXL and to refine tar sands.

Inergy is a Kansas City, MO based corporation whose natural gas and liquid petroleum gas storage facility would lock in natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale region. Local residents have been working hard to ensure the DEC gives adequate attention to legitimate scientific and socioeconomic concerns about the Inergy natural gas facility. The community decided to take action today because the DEC’s current draft analysis of the environmental impacts is completely inadequate, ignoring the local health impacts from air pollution.

Blockaders sang songs and deployed a banner reading “Our Future is Unfractured, We Are Greater Than Dirty Inergy.” Among those arrested are: Sandra Steingraber Ph.D., biologist, author, and Trumansburg, NY resident, New York Green Umbrella organizer KC Alvey, and residents of Seneca Lake. Read more on their website Our Future Is Unfractured.

Check out the livestream video of the action:


Monday, March 18 – Bike Tour of Portland’s Worst Polluters To Highlight Local Climate Change Profiteers

Video of blockader Isabel Brooks speaking in front of TransCanada offices on the Portland Bike Tour. Isabel spent several weeks in jail after barricading themself inside a mile-long segment of the Keystone XL in Texas. You can read more about that action here.

For the full story of the Portland’s Worst Polluters Tour, with lots of great photos and video, read this article from Mismanaging Perception.

Here’s the press release organizers sent this morning:

This afternoon, Portlanders will take the streets by bike to tour some of Portland’s worst polluting companies and organizations in solidarity with the ongoing blockade of the Keystone XL pipeline. Many of these organizations cynically brand themselves as “green” and “sustainable” while contributing to pollution locally, nationally, and internationally.

In the past, the Portland’s Worst Polluters Tour has highlighted all manner of polluters and polluting activities from coal profiteers and energy monopolists to Superfund sites. This is a necessary activity since Portland has a stunningly high amount of pollution and is home to some of the nation’s worst polluters. Unbeknownst to most Portlanders (including a great many of its journalists), the City of Portland:

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Week of Action Kicks Off With Creativity Across the Country

The Stop Tar Sands Profiteers Week of Action kicked off with some amazing creativity across the country: St. Patty’s day parades in Boston, green revelers stopping buses full of oil execs in New Orleans, picturesque canyon banner drops in Utah, and a overpass light brigade in Wisconsin. Join an action near you.

Sunday, March 17 – New Orleans, Oil Execs Get a Big St. Patrick’s Day Surprise

River Delta Resist! held a rally in protest of the Howard Weil Energy Conference, host to such big oil players as BP, Shell, Valero, and other investors in tar sands and extraction industries. The group disguised as St. Patrick’s day revelers successfully blocked two buses full of oil executives and disrupted corporate dinners throughout the French Quarter,  and marched throughout the city.

NOLA St. Patrick's Day

nola blockader


Sunday, March 17 – Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Green activists march in the traditional Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of a Climate Justice division. Marchers grooved to the Soul ‘n Roll band Melodeego and engaged the crowd with anti-tar sands call and response chants. Well done Veterans for Peace!

St. Patty's Boston ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, March 16 – Banner Drop in Grand County, Utah

Activists from Grand County, Utah drop a large banner along the route of a popular annual half marathon. Canyon Country Rising Tide, Before It Starts, and individuals who came together for a series of events in Moab, Utah unfurled this banner to raise awareness about the first-ever large scale tar sands mine in the U.S., which U.S. Oil Sands Inc. plans to build just 60 miles from where this photo was taken.

Check out this local blog for stunning photos and the local chatter about the banner.

Utah banner drop


Saturday, March 16 – Wisconsin Activists have a Message for Obama

On Saturday evening, in West Allis, WI, members from the group Overpass Light Brigade (OLB), met above a busy overpass to spell out their message to the president loud and clear. The words “Block Keystone XL” could be seen by passing motorists.

WI light brigade

And check out the video they made:

Block the Keystone XL Pipeline from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

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Red Lake Chippewa Discover Enbridge Tar Sands Pipelines Through Nation-Owned Land Have No Easement Contracts

NoTrespassingFor over two weeks now, Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan (We Love Our Land) has been occupying land directly above four pipelines across an easement that Enbridge has claimed since 1949 when the company, then called Lakehead Pipe Line Company, installed the first of four pipelines across land owned by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa despite not having an easement from the Red Lake Chippewa Nation. These pipes carry toxic tar sands, Bakken oil, as well as Canadian crude. By threatening the local lakes, these pipes endanger the lives and economic livelihood of Red Lake Band members.

The grassroots group of Red Lake Chippewa and Anishinaabe Indians is joined by blockaders and solidarity activists determined to shut down the pipelines, hold Enbridge to account for stealing land, and protest Enbridge’s proposed expansion of the nearby Alberta Clipper toxic tar sands pipeline.

Located in Northern Minnesota near the town of Leonard, the occupation of the Red Lake land began Thursday, February 28. Requests to Enbridge regarding internal safety regulations related to above-ground activity over their pipelines resulted in a spokesperson claiming that activity such as fires and the construction of permanent structures like fences and houses would result in a pipeline needing to be shut down as documented in this viral video:

Similar encampments, like the Unist’ot’en Camp, have been springing up across the continent to fight the fossil fuel industry and stop the destruction of sacred lands in the pursuit of ever-more dangerous and destructive fossil fuel resources. Indeed, the pipeline industry would be hard pressed to imagine a tougher time in which to be doing business.

Indigenous resistance to tar sands pipelines in the region dates back to 2009 when Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper tar sands line was run through Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Anishinaabe reservations. The pipeline was only saved by technicalities in tribal law that led a judge to dismiss the case against the decision by elected officials to contract with Enbridge.

Enbridge is currently in the process of seeking approval to nearly double the capacity of the nearby Alberta Clipper toxic tar sands pipeline from its current 440,000 barrels per day up to 800,000 bpd. Not only will the Red Lake action take four pipelines offline, it is also setting precedent that pipeline expansion will not be tolerated! Not only that, but shutting down the illegal Enbridge pipelines may prevent millions of barrels of dirty tar sands from reaching market.

Now, with a decisively bold move and the backing of large constituencies of Red Lake Band members due to years of local community self-education, Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan might well set the first example of a tar sands line being forced to shut down permanently due to protest after it has been operational!

“When I was informed about the illegal trespassing of the company Enbridge on my homeland, I knew there was something I could do. I started calling as many Red Lakers as I could to try and make them aware,” said Angie Palacio who initiated the encampment with the support of the Indigenous Environmental Network.


Support for their efforts has been pouring in from many nations and groups:

Tom Poorbear, vice president of the Ogalala Sioux Nation declared, “We fully support the Red Lake Nation and its members who are opposing the Enbridge pipeline to stop the flow and remove the illegal pipeline from their land.”

Bill McKibben, founder of has stated, “I imagine everyone involved in the planetwide resistance to fossil fuel is watching them with thanks.”

Chief Bill Erasmus of the Dene First Nation stated, “We fully support and are inspired by the Red Lake members and their resistance as it is stated in the Mother Earth Accord; affirming our responsibility to protect and preserve for our descendents, the inherent sovereign rights of our indigenous nations, the rights of property owners, and all inherent human rights.”

Enbridge, of course, is a major player in the toxic tar sands pipeline saga being responsible for the costliest onshore petrochemical spill in US history. On July 25, 2010 a tar sands/diluted bitumen spill from Enbridge’s 6B pipeline near Marshall, Michigan that resulted in the release of over a million gallons of toxic tar sands/diluted bitumen and a permanently contaminated 40-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River along well as several tributaries. There have been hundreds of health problems associated with exposure to the tar sands chemicals and since the spill several deaths have been attributed to the sudden exposure. These chemicals immediately begin evaporating upon release and are heavier than air, forming a toxic cloud at ground-level that is practically inescapable.

Clear after the spill was the complete lack of understanding Enbridge and US Federal oil spill response teams had in how to clean up a tar sands/diluted bitumen spill. Diluted bitumen is not crude oil and therefore does not behave like crude oil upon release. There are still no established cleanup protocols and emergency first responders in regions like Texas and Oklahoma, where the 750,000 barrels per day Keystone XL pipeline is proposed to traverse by the end of 2013, have never been informed or warned as to how to manage the extremely toxic diluted bitumen spills common to the tar sands industry.

Communities in the immediate vicinity of the devastating spill are still reeling and are showing little to no signs of recovery – biological or economic.

Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan is well aware of these happenings and has taken one of the most exciting steps to rid their territory of the threat to community health and safety that tar sands pipelines pose.

They are accepting donations to assist in the purchase of building and life-sustaining materials here:

Please donate if you can.

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