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For Immediate Release

June 28, 2013

TD Bank Divestment from Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline a Hoax Conducted by Tar Sands Blockade Activists 

Contact: Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268 5375, [email protected]

Houston, TX – This morning, a fake press release was sent from an email address at yourtdbank.com, to a parody website designed to look like TD Bank’s press page announcing the bank’s divestment from Keystone XL and tar sands. The fake release cited President Obama’s recent climate speech and a host of economic problems for the tar sands industry as reasons for TD Bank’s decision to sell its $1.6 billion stake in Keystone XL and live up to their motto to be “As Green As Our Logo.”

The media stunt was claimed by the Texas-based nonviolent direct action organization, Tar Sands Blockade, who over the last year has successfully caused major delays to the construction of the southern segment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The fake story was published by media sources such as International Business Times, before later realizing it was a hoax.

Today’s hoax was part of a sustained campaign to encourage financial institutions bankrolling Alberta’s tar sands industry to divest from toxic projects like Keystone XL and highlight TD Bank’s blatant hypocrisy on environmental issues.

Yesterday, TD Bank touted their eco-consciousness by announcing a partnership with the Nature Conservancy to preserve 107 acres of Florida forests. The tar sands mega-project, which analysts say will only be economically viable if Keystone XL and other pipelines are built, would destroy or degrade 34 million acres of the world’s largest, most pristine forest and the largest terrestrial carbon sink.

“Today’s media stunt was intended to hold TD Bank accountable for bankrolling the most ecologically devastating project on planet Earth. If TD Bank wants to be ‘as green as its logo,’ then it must immediately divest from tar sands exploitation and Keystone XL, which will have devastating climate impacts,” said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson.

“TD Bank’s green-washing of its preservation of 107 acres in Florida while simultaneously investing in the destruction of a forest the size of the entire state of Florida is downright absurd and must be brought to light.”

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The fake release and parody website can be found here: http://mediaroom.yourtdbank.com/2013-06-28-TD-Announces-Plans-to-Transition-Away-From-Investments-in-Keystone-XL.html

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MEDIA RELEASE: June 25, 2013

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]
Bryan Parras, T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), 713-303-5811, [email protected]

Texas Grassroots Groups React to President Obama’s Keystone XL Pipeline Announcement

HOUSTON, TX, JUNE 25, 2012 4:30PM— Today, President Obama announced a package of executive initiatives to address the escalating threat of climate change in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. In an unexpected Keystone XL announcement, the President stated that the “net effects of pipeline’s impacts on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project will go forward.” The nations leading climate scientists and the President’s own EPA have repeatedly documented how Keystone XL would open the floodgates to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands and a dramatic increase in climate pollution.

In March 2012, President Obama fast-tracked the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline in a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma. Over the last year, grassroots organizations like Tar Sands Blockade have launched sustained nonviolent direct action campaigns to halt its construction. After a series of direct actions resulting in dozens of arrests, Tar Sands Blockade has successfully delayed construction of the southern segment for weeks. Despite the construction delays, the tar sands pipeline is nearing completion later this year.

In addition to its climate pollution, Keystone XL will bring toxic tar sands refining to communities living in Houston’s East End and Port Arthur along Texas’ Gulf Coast, which are already among the most polluted in North America. Tar sands refining will only further increase the environmental burden on these low-income, communities of color making it a clear case of environmental racism. For years, organizations like T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services) have worked closely with these communities most impacted.

These two Texas-based grassroots organizations had the following statements in response to President Obama’s speech:

Bryan Parras, grew up in Houston’s East End and is the Youth and Media Coordinator for T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), said:

“I applaud the President’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon emissions, reinvest in alternative energies and efforts to lead international action on responsible climate change policies, but all that falls flat without complete divestment from the destructive extraction of the tar sands and rejection of any pipeline(s), trucks or rail that purport to deliver the toxic sludge to refineries in the U.S.  The time for action is long overdue and only honest and comprehensive action can ensure that future generations will live in a cleaner more stable environment.”

Kim Huynh, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade, said:

“While it’s encouraging to hear the President voice his intentions to address climate change and Keystone XL’s climate impacts, we’re not holding our breath. After all, this is the same President that fast-tracked the southern segment of this pipeline to pump toxic tar sands through our homes. The construction of Keystone XL is opening the floodgates to the largest pool of carbon pollution in North America.

We’ll continue to organize and work together to connect our struggles against the root causes of the climate crisis. That’s why this week, thousands of people across the country are working as Fearless Summer to embody the courage to address the most urgent forms of extreme energy that are causing the wholesale destruction of our communities; like tar sands exploitation, natural gas fracking, and mountaintop removal coal mining. If the President doesn’t halt all forms of industrial extraction, we will.”

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T.E.J.A.S (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service) is a non-profit environmental justice organization that is committed to the promotion of environmental rights in communities of color and low-income populations within the state of Texas

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

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For Immediate Release

June 19, 2013

Dozens Storm Pipeline Regulator PHMSA Event, Demanding Stricter Safety Regulations for Tar Sands Bitumen

Contact: Aly Tharp, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Photos and video: http://tarsandsblockade.org/phmsa-dallas/

RICHARDSON, TX – June 19, 2013 – Dozens of concerned community members and activists from the Texas Action Coalition for the Environment and Tar Sands Blockade have stormed the lobby at the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Pipeline Safety Public Awareness Workshop, being held at the Hyatt Regency in Richardson. The protesters staged a tar sands spill and are carrying banners and signs to say that tar sands aren’t being regulated and must be stopped. Activists are expected to stay outside in demonstration until dusk, when they will hold lighted billboards reading “PHMSA: No Tar Sands Pipelines” and “Water > Oil”.

Early this morning many from across the Keystone XL pipeline route attended the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) “Pipeline Safety Public Awareness Workshop”, held inside the Richardson Hyatt Regency Hotel. Texas ACE and TSB are airing their grievances directly to regulators, asking pertinent questions during panel Q&A sessions in order to draw out a complete record of the PHMSA assessment of its awareness efforts.

The sad truth is that PHMSA fails to properly regulate diluted tar sands bitumen – the deadly substance which has leaked in the hundreds of thousands of gallons from shoddily maintained pipelines regulated by PHMSA, poisoning communities like Mayflower, Arkansas and Kalamazoo, Michigan. In fact, Senator Edward Markey recently revealed that while PHMSA issued a Corrective Action Order against Exxon Mobil for the Pegasus tar sands pipeline, they allowed Exxon to use a disaster response plan that had not yet been approved without facing any consequences. Exxon did not detect and respond to the spill in Mayflower, Arkansas within the required time limit of the formally approved safety plan. This is just one of many examples of industry and government collusion and oversight to keep the high risk and toxicity of tar sands out of the eyes and mind of the public.

Of particular concern is the fact that tar sands (diluted bitumen or “dilbit”) is a different chemical composition than crude oil, and yet it is only classified as such when it benefits the industry bottom line. On the basis that tar sands dilbit is “synthetic crude” and not crude oil, the transport of tar sands through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Otherwise, regulators claim that tar sands bitumen is a type of crude oil. Tar sands are far more difficult and costly to clean up and spills are more toxic to water, wildlife and affected persons as a result of the differences in composition. “Tar sands dilbit needs to be recognized and classified as different from crude oil, for the sake of public awareness and pipeline safety,” says Aly Tharp, one of the organizers of today’s protest.

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For immediate release

June 12, 2013

Contact: Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375[email protected]

TransCanada Caught Training Police to Treat Peaceful Anti-Keystone XL Activists as “Terrorists”

Houston, TX – In the midst of recent national controversy surrounding government surveillance of the public, a recent Freedom of Information Act request to the Nebraska State Patrol has exposed evidence that TransCanada provided trainings to federal agents and local Nebraska police to suppress nonviolent activists protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by arresting them on “anti-terrorism statutes.” The presentation slides, obtained by grassroots landowner advocacy group Bold Nebraska, target Tar Sands Blockade activists by name

“This is clear evidence of the collusion between TransCanada and the federal government assisting local police to unlawfully monitor and harass political protestors,” said Lauren Regan, legal coordinator for Tar Sands Blockade and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. “These documents expose the truth that the government is giving the nod to unlawful corporate spying. By slinging false allegations against peaceful activists in this presentation, TransCanada puts them at risk of unwarranted prosecution.”

Although TransCanada’s presentation to authorities contains information about property destruction, sabotage, and booby traps, police in Texas and Oklahoma have never alleged, accused, or charged Tar Sands Blockade activists of any such behaviors. Since August 2012, Tar Sands Blockade has carried out dozens of successful nonviolent direct actions to physically halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma. All of these acts, as well as every pipeline protest in Nebraska, have maintained strict commitments to nonviolence

“Try as TransCanada might to slander Tar Sands Blockade and our growing grassroots movement, we know who the real criminals are.” said Ron Seifert, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade who was pictured in the slideshow. “The real criminals are those profiting from this deadly tar sands pipeline by endangering families living along the route and pumping illegal levels of air toxins into fence-line communities.”

“If anything, this shows the effectiveness of campaigns to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and fossil fuel extraction as a whole,” said Scott Parkin, an organizer with Rising Tide North America and a non-violence trainer also pictured in the slideshow. “We’ve been fighting coal, oil and natural gas for a long time using these time-honored tactics and strategies. We’ll continue to use them precisely because they have been so effective in making change throughout American history.

Grassroots resistance to Keystone XL is growing in Texas and Oklahoma where TransCanada is currently digging up freshly laid sections of the pipeline that failed integrity inspections. The East Texas Observer reports that at least 70 “anomalies,” including dents and shoddy welds in the pipe, were identified in a 60 mile span, and in some areas these imperfections occur at a rate of three per mile.

“A discovery like this presentation reveals that TransCanada has no problem lying to authorities and intentionally misleading the public in pursuit of its own private gain,” says Seifert. “If TransCanada officials cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the peaceful nature of Keystone XL protestors, why should we believe they’ve told the truth about the integrity of their pipeline and the real threats it poses to the hundreds of rivers and creeks that it crosses?”

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The full slideshows can be found at: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/transcanadapolice/

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ADVISORY

Apr 19, 2013

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268- 5375[email protected]

Telepresser Monday, 4/22: Indigenous Activists, Landowners & Grassroots Leaders Promise Escalating Action on Keystone XL

Dallas, TX – On Earth Day and at the closing of the State Department’s public comment period on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this Monday, indigenous activists, landowners and grassroots leaders will host a press call to preview this summer’s ongoing and escalating resistance to TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline.

From more than 60,000 CREDO members pledging to take direct action to halt Keystone XL to two bands of the Sioux nation recently approving resolutions to block the pipeline from entering their treaty territories, speakers will discuss the direct action response to a potential Obama administration approval of the northern segment of Keystone XL.

WHO:  Julia Trigg Crawford, farmer & landowner from Texas

Becky Bond, political director at CREDO

Casey Camp, director of Coyote Creek Center for Environmental Justice, of the Ponca nation, Oklahoma

Debra White Plume, director of Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), of the Oglala Lakota nation, South Dakota

Moderator: Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade

WHAT: Press call discussing this summer’s escalating grassroots resistance to Keystone XL

WHEN: Monday, 4/22 at 10am CT / 11am ET

HOW: Dial-in number forthcoming

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For Immediate Release

April 6, 2013

Contact: Rue, 607.591.0607

Photos and video: http://tarsandsblockade.org/20th-action/

Activist Disrupts Valero-Sponsored Golf Tournament, Demands Accountability for Manchester

An activist disrupted the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio this afternoon during the PGA tournament. Douglas Fahlbusch was a standard bearer for the event and used the opportunity to bring attention to Manchester, a low-income, predominately Latino/a community on Houston’s toxic East End situated next to Valero’s Houston refinery.

Once the tournament reached the 18th hole, Fahlbusch changed the sign, ordinarily used to display the players’ names and scores, to read “TAR SANDS SPILL. VALERO KILLS. ANSWER MANCHESTER.” He refused to leave the green and was dragged the entire way off the premises by police.

“Business as usual is over, between the BP spill, the current Arkansas spill, and daily life in Manchester,” Fahlbusch said. “Why won’t Valero tell the Manchester people what it is they are breathing every day?”

San Antonio-based Valero is poised to refine as much as 75% of the tar sands coming from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast via the Keystone XL pipeline. The southern segment of the pipeline is under construction and is expected to be operational by the end of this year. If the Keystone XL pipeline is completed, pollution on Houston’s toxic East End is projected to increase by over a third. The East End, and Manchester in particular, are already plagued by high rates of various cancers, asthma, and leukemia. A recent study found that children in Manchester have a 56% higher likelihood of developing leukemia than children living ten miles away, and the air consistently tests positive for at least eight different carcinogens.

Several attempts have been made to make Valero accountable for their pollution, including delivering a letter to CEO William Klesse amid a 45-day hunger strike by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey, which started following an action in which the pair locked their necks to industrial trucks outside the Valero refinery. But despite these attempts, there has been no response to Manchester’s demands for transparency. You can learn more about the community of Manchester by visiting their new website, Manchester: Voices from a Frontline Community, at http://manchestervoices.wordpress.com

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MEDIA RELEASE: March 27, 2013

For Immediate Release

Contact: Yudith Nieto, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, kxlblockade@gmail.com

Live updates and photos: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/19th-action/

Activist Climbs Flagpole Outside LyondellBasell, Hangs Banner Denouncing Investment in Tar Sands

LyondellBasell recently announced its plans to nearly triple its tar sands refining capacity from the Keystone XL pipeline as protests escalate across the continent

HOUSTON, TX Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 10:00AM – An activist with Tar Sands Blockade climbed a 50 foot flagpole in front of LyondellBasell’s downtown Houston office this morning and hung a banner denouncing the corporation’s plans to nearly triple its tar sands processing capacity at its Houston Refining facility in the Hispanic neighborhood of Manchester. The banner reads, “LyondellBasell, Stay Out of Tar Sands. No KXL.”

Today’s protest from activist Perry Graham is in response to a recent announcement by LyondellBasell’s CEO Jim Gallogly that they were “just finishing up” a $50 million upgrade to increase the Houston Refining facility’s capacity to process tar sands. The planned upgrade to the largest refinery in the City of Houston would process 175,000 barrels of tar sands per day, or nearly one-quarter of the capacity of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. If built, the pipeline would carry toxic tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Houston and other Gulf Coast refineries before being primarily exported overseas.

“I’m taking action today to expose LyondellBasell’s unjust practices of environmental racism, from the poisoning of the Athabascan Chipewyan people due to tar sands extraction, to the ongoing refinery pollution affecting communities of color in Houston’s toxic East End,” said Graham. “After last week’s 55 actions across the continent to stop tar sands profiteers, corporations like LyondellBasell that process tar sands should expect active resistance.”

LyondellBasell has a history of dodging accountability for their pollution. In 2009, LyondellBasell filed for bankruptcy, allowing the corporation to avoid nearly $5 billion in environmental cleanup costs at 11 contaminated sites across the country. Last year, LyondellBasell was sued by Harris County for four incidents at their Channelview refinery that resulted in the release of 5 tons of pollutants, including benzene, octane, ethylene, propylene, and 1,3-butadiene.

To make matters worse, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) refused to allow a public hearing to review LyondellBasell’s benzene emissions in Houston in 2010. This lack of oversight leaves affected communities like Manchester, located less than two miles from the LyondellBasell refinery, to suffer toxic pollutants and cancer-related deaths without recourse.

“The fence-line community of Manchester already deals with the effects of the pollution from surrounding industry,” said Manchester resident and Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Yudith Nieto. “Now LyondellBasell wants to nearly triple dirty tar sands refining in our communities without regard for the safety and well being of the people. Where are the state environmental agencies who have a duty to protect us from this unjust and destructive industry?”

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Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

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—MEDIA ADVISORY—

Stop Tar Sands Profiteers Week of Action Kicks Off With Over 50 Organizations and Over 30 Planned Events

Grassroots organizations across the US and Canada are taking action March 16 – March 23to demonstrate that TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a toxic investment

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Over 30 actions and events are planned this week to directly confront the corporate profiteers bankrolling the Keystone XL pipeline and the broader tar sands industry. These actions come at a critical time as investor confidence in Alberta’s tar sands is waning due to major delays and resistance to Keystone XL’s construction timeline.

Grassroots activists from over 50 organizations are uniting to send a strong message to the industry that TransCanada and its financial backers must rethink their investments in tar sands, the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Organizers will march, hold rallies, give trainings, and physically disrupt “business-as-usual” for those who seek to profit from the exploitation of marginalized people and the destruction of our collective future.

Some of the top tar sands profiteers facing protest this week: TD Bank, Valero Corp, TransCanada, CIBC World Market, and Tortoise Investment Management, to name a few.

WHO: Over 50 national and local grassroots organizations across the US and Canada are joining Tar Sands Blockade in a call for actions: 350.org, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Greenpeace USA, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America, Southwest Workers Union, and Utah Tar Sands Resistance, etc. Full list can be found here: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction/weekofactionorgs/

WHAT: Stop Tar Sands Profiteers Week of Action

WHEN: Saturday, February 16, 2012 – Saturday, February 23, 2012

WHY: Stop tar sands profiteers from investing in the toxic Keystone XL pipeline.

WHERE: Communities across the country. Some of the highlights include:

  • White Plains, New York, March 20th – Action at TD Bank, one of the biggest investors in Keystone XL.
  • Ponca City, Oklahoma, March 21st - Mass Action to Stop Keystone XL Construction in Oklahoma. Direct action training camp hosted by Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, March 18-22.
  • Washington, DC, March 21st – “Holy Days Climate Action” an interfaith civil disobedience at the White House. Followed by a rally at the Canadian Embassy hosted by DC Rising Tide.
  • San Antonio, Texas, March 22nd  – Community rally at Valero Corp Headquarters, one of KXL’s biggest investors.  Hosted by Students United for Socioeconomic Justice Action, Southwest Workers Union, and Idle No More
  • Los Angeles, California, March 22nd – Rally at CIBC World Markets, one of TransCanada’s major investors.
  • New York, New York, March 23rd – “Divest From TD Bank Day of Action!” hosted by Occupy the Pipeline, 350.org, and Sane Energy Project. There are events at TD Bank locations in at least six cities throughout the week.
  • San Francisco, California, March 23rd – A big direct-action training and Idle No More round dance at the Federal Building with Bay Area 350.org and Rising Tide S.F.

Map of 30 public rallies and actions: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction/planned_actions/

CONTACT:

Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]
More info: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/weekofaction-main/

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MEDIA RELEASE: February 28, 2013

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375kxlblo[email protected]

LIVE BLOG, LIVESTREAMING, & PHOTOS: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/18th-action/

Protestor Locks Himself to Conference Equipment, Disrupts TransCanada Presentation At Oil Industry Gathering

Keystone XL southern segment construction is less than half way complete as activists storm conference, vow to continue to disrupt ‘business as usual’

HOUSTON, TX  Thursday, February 282013, 3:30PM – A protestor with Tar Sands Blockade this afternoon locked his neck to a projector screen in the middle of a TransCanada presentation at the North American Crude Marketing Conference in Houston. In taking direct action, Ethan Nuss confronted in-person Paul Miller, TransCanada’s Executive Vice President of Oil Pipelines, and a ballroom of tar sands industry investors, demanding a halt to the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Nuss successfully disrupted the second annual conference hosted by Platts. Among other things, the gathering is intended for fossil fuel industry executives and their financial backers to collaborate on schemes to transport dirty and dangerous tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast so it can be refined and sold on the international market, thereby expanding the industry.

“TransCanada’s ‘business as usual’ spells death and destruction for our communities,” said Nuss. “My conscience won’t allow me to watch this multinational corporation and their profiteers poison impacted communities from here in Houston’s polluted East End to indigenous people at the point of tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada. This must stop.”

At last year’s marketing conference, Paul Miller explained the necessity of the southern leg of Keystone XL through Oklahoma and Texas to the expansion of the exploitative tar sands industry. TransCanada’s own fourth quarter report, released last week, revealed that the controversial pipeline is less than half completed, despite the Canadian pipeline corporation’s previous projections for completion of the southern segment this April.

This revelation highlights that Tar Sands Blockade’s sustained civil disobedience campaign since last August has been successful in delaying Keystone XL construction. Today’s action is part of growing momentum for an upcoming national week of action called for by Tar Sands Blockade and allies from March 16-23, with over 60 actions currently reported nationwide.

“This is just a morsel of what TransCanada and other tar sands profiteers can expect in the coming weeks and months,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “All over the country, communities are gearing up to take to the streets, offices, extraction sites and public events to show that our movement won’t relent until we’ve made this investment as toxic for TransCanada and its financial backers as the very tar sands being piped through Keystone XL. Our tar sands-free future begins now.”

Earlier this week, 20,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into Otter Creek in Tyler County, TX from a pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics. Otter Creek flows into Russell Creek, which feeds the Neches River. The leak did not trigger Sunoco’s detection systems but was discovered by local residents reporting oil in their water.

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Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.


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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:
Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, 940-268-5375[email protected]
Tina Osby, Winona, Texas Affected Resident, 903-887-4347

For much more information see: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/shoddy-weld-on-kxl/
For hi-res images of the weld: here and here.

BREAKING: Faulty Weld on Keystone XL Compromise Lives of East Texas Community

Tar Sands Blockade Sends Photos of Shoddy Welding Work from a Protest in December to Regulators

WINONA, TX – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2013 2:00PM – On the morning of December 3rd, faulty welds inside of a mile-long segment of KXL pipe were discovered during a Tar Sands Blockade action. The blockaders were shocked to find light shining through a weld precisely where they were resting after barricading themselves inside. The property through which the pipeline was being constructed belonged to a multi-generational Africa-American family, some of whom had had their land seized through the process of eminent domain, while others were paid as little as $200.

Tina Osby, a 63-year-old lifelong resident of Winona, and her mother, Annie Bircher, 85, have stated that they were never informed of the carcinogenic nature of the substances which will soon be flowing through and onto their land if regulators do not ensure the pipe is fixed and reinspected. Upon learning of the shoddy welding work done by TransCanada, their family is demanding accountability and stringent regulation to avoid a catastrophic spill, akin to the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010.

Bircher recounted, “I didn’t think much about it at first, and it wasn’t until after construction started that I began to wonder.”

Photos of the faulty welds were first exposed on January 31st this year when Tar Sands Blockade Spokesperson Ramsey Sprague interrupted the annual Pipetech Americas Summit in Houston, TX, calling into question TransCanada’s commitment to safety and regulation during their speech on pipeline safety.

Whistleblower accounts to Federal officials in Canada and the United States from former TransCanada welding engineers and pipeline weld inspectors Evan Vokes and Michael Klink also describe systemic negligence and malfeasance in the corporation’s internal inspection and auditing process. Couple with the latest news that pipeline inspection technology programmers have been raising serious concerns about the efficacy of Pipeline Inspection Gauges, an industry-standard tool for locating life-threatening shoddy welds and pipe irregularities, there are many now speaking up about the dangers posed by the toxic tar sands pipeline being constructed in Texas and Oklahoma.

Clearly, the dramatic and life-threatening weld discovered in Winona should be immediately investigated by PHMSA and the recurring themes of TransCanada’s systemic negligence of human health and environmental safety are considered within the broader scope of the Keystone XL Northern Segment’s consideration by the US State Department, but the entire discovery only confirms the deepest, most cynical fears of affected residents near the KXL route,” stated Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “Construction of all tar sands pipelines should halt immediately until the clear inability for the petrochemical industry to construct, install, monitor, and maintain safe pipelines is remedied adequately in accordance with the common-sense sentiment that pipelines moving hazardous, toxic materials should not leak into peoples’ homes. Period.”

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Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

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MEDIA RELEASE: January 28, 2013

Contact: Ramsey Sprague, [email protected]940-268-5375

Timeline of Tar Sands Blockade’s direct action: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/our-actions/

Activists Forced to Settle Lawsuit But Will Continue to Fight Keystone XL Pipeline; TransCanada Claimed $5 Million in Damages

On Friday, January 25th, a group of activists agreed to a settlement in TransCanada’s lawsuit against Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North Texas, Rising Tide North America, and nineteen individuals. The SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) alleged that nonviolent direct action against Keystone XL has cost TransCanada $5 million dollars. This contradicts frequent public statements by TransCanada’s spokespeople that blockaders were not impeding construction in any meaningful way.

The eight Texans who came to court to defend themselves on Friday, some of whom had not been actively involved with Tar Sands Blockade since protests in August, were threatened with losing their homes and life’s savings if the lawsuit went forward. In order to protect the livelihoods and dependents of brave activists like Tammie Carson, who locked herself to a truck carrying Keystone XL pipe, the activists agreed to settle the lawsuit. The corporation will not seek the $5 million in financial damages, and the named defendants and organizations agree to not trespass on Keystone XL property in Texas and Oklahoma or face additional charges.

Despite this legal setback, members of Tar Sands Blockade are as determined as ever to stop Keystone XL. The sustained direct action campaign will continue.

Defendants made the following statements in response to the settlement:

Tammie Carson, a lifelong Texan, grandmother, and defendant from Arlington, TX, said:

“I took action for my grandkids’ future. I couldn’t sit idly by and watch as a multinational corporate bully abused eminent domain to build a dirty and dangerous tar sands pipeline right through Texans’ backyards. I had no choice but to settle or lose my home and everything I’ve worked for my entire life.”

Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, and defendant from Fort Worth, TX, said:

“TransCanada is dead wrong if they think a civil lawsuit against a handful of Texans is going to stop a grassroots civil disobedience movement. This is nothing more than another example of TransCanada repressing dissent and bullying Texans who are defending their homes and futures from toxic tar sands.”

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Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

— MEDIA ADVISORY For immediate release —

Press Contact:
Mike Bishop, landowner suing TransCanada for fraud, 936 645 1586, [email protected]

Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Judge to Decide to Hear Mike Bishop’s Fraud Case Against TransCanada

TransCanada continues policy of petty legal intimidation by moving to vacate Mike’s Restraining Order bond

Landowner Mike Bishop returns to Nacogdoches County Court to discover whether or not Court of Law Judge Jack Sinz will hear his fraud case against multinational pipeline corporation TransCanada, whose toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will cross Mr. Bishop’s land.

In the case’s December 19 hearing, County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz requested that Bishop, who is representing himself Pro Se, and TransCanada’s attorney’s plea to his court why he is compelled to hear the fraud case regarding the controversial pipeline company’s land contract with Mr. Bishop.

In response, TransCanada has suggested that not only does the court not have jurisdiction to hear the case due to its connection to land law, but the same County Court at Law venue was deemed adequate by TransCanada for the condemnation and writ of possession actions the corporation forced on Mr. Bishop and other Texas landowners.

Bishop isn’t fooled. Neither are his supporters. The County and the country will be watching this East Texas courtroom and Judge Sinz closely for his ruling tomorrow.

WHO: Mike Bishop is a 64-year-old retired chemist, former Marine, and current medical school student, whose lawsuit rocked Keystone XL pipeline construction by etting a temporary restraining order granted last month against construction on his property. Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

WHAT: A press conference with Mike Bishop and Tar Sands Blockade speaking about Mr. Bishop’s fraud case against TransCanada

WHEN: Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1pm

WHERE: Nacogdoches County Court of Law, 101 W. Main St. Nacogdoches, TX 75961

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES:

Visuals: Mike surrounded by supporters with signs on the courthouse steps.

Interview Opportunities: Mike Bishop about the state of his fraud suit against TransCanada, Nacogdoches area supporters of Mike’s suit, Tar Sands Blockade spokespersons.

CONTACT:

Mike Bishop, landowner suing TransCanada for fraud, 936 645 1586, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Tar Sands Blockade: TarSandsBlockade.org

###

— For Immediate Release —

To: Journalists covering Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Idle No More indigenous sovereignty movement, and Gulf Coast environmental news

Press Contact: Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, [email protected], 940-268-5375

45 Day Hunger Strike against Keystone XL pipeline and Valero Comes to an End 

Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Declare Solidarity with ‘Idle No More’ Canadian First Nation Rights Movement

HOUSTON, TX – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2013 12:00PM — After 45 days of fasting on nothing but water and occasional fruit juice, longtime Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey, Jr. called an end to their hunger strike. The duo undertook the potentially life-threatening, longest lasting hunger strikes they had ever attempted in solidarity with immigrant communities facing environmental injustice in the Houston neighborhood of Manchester and Canadian First Nations communities fighting for indigenous rights and dignity.

“In Houston’s toxic East End, home to the largest petrochemical complexes in North America, marginalized communities of color are forced to breathe poisoned air,” Wilson and Lindsey, Jr. declared in a joint statement released on Tar Sands Blockade’s website yesterday. “Children here are exposed to eight different cancer causing toxins at all times and homes are encapsulated by huge industrial storage tanks. The Valero refinery billows poison on top of the community’s only park. What is happening in Manchester is a living case of environmental racism and classism.”

The small, predominantly Latino community of Manchester is the most polluted neighborhood in Texas, with Valero responsible for most of the pollution. Instead of working to reduce emissions, Valero plans to bring tar sands to Texas through the toxic Keystone XL pipeline, further denigrating the air, water, and environmental quality of local communities.

In reaction to the proposed gutting of First Nation sovereignty and treaty rights in Canada, Bob and Diane ended their strike by announcing solidarity with fellow-hunger striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is on day 36 of her fast. Spence is demanding a sit-down meeting with both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston.

“The Canadian government has failed to honor First Nation treaty rights by not consulting tribal communities about enormously toxic industrial projects like the tar sands exploitation in Alberta, Canada. Chief Spence, Idle No More and blockades like the Unist’ot’en Camp have become catalysts for resistance to the destruction of the earth and struggle against the colonization of its inhabitants, a battle that First Nation communities have fought for over 500 years on this continent,” Wilson and Lindsey, Jr. added in their online statement.

“By standing with Manchester in its demands upon Valero to close the refinery currently poisoning their homes, Bob and Diane embody the sacrifice necessary to push issues of petrochemical industrial pollution to the fore of the global conscience,” said Ramsey Sprague, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade. “Through their hunger strike, they have nourished the hearts and minds of thousands inspired to act for climate and environmental justice. Despite their bodies having withered, the movement has only grown more resolved through their leadership and vision.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma affected community members and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Bob and Diane’s statement on the end of their hunger strike is available in-full here:

http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/end-hunger-strike/

###

MEDIA RELEASE: Jan 7, 2013

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Liveblog and photos: http://tarsandsblockade.org/houston-action-transcanada-offices

More Than 100 Protesters Take Over TransCanada’s Keystone XL Offices in Houston

Tar Sands Blockade Proclaims Next Phase of Organizing with Largest-Yet Action

HOUSTON, TX, JANUARY 3, 2013 12:00PM: Over 100 blockaders stormed the lobby of TransCanada’s Keystone XL office in Houston this morning. Protesters danced, spilled black ‘tar sands’ balloons and hung neon orange hazard tape to highlight the deadly effects of TransCanada’s corporate greed on communities and ecosystems.

After being forced out of the lobby by police, the protesters gathered on the sidewalk and performed street theatre in which a “pipe dragon” puppet destroyed homes and poisoned water until being slain by knights representing the grassroots coalition of Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More, Earth First and others.

Today’s action was the largest yet in the months-long campaign by climate justice organizers and Texas landowners against the pipeline and the first mass action in Houston targeting TransCanada corporate offices directly. It kicks off a new phase of Blockade organizing, targeting the corporate, political and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline with solidarity actions planned across the country this week, including in Austin, Detroit and New York City.

Activist collective Anonymous today released the personal information of TransCanada executives and Keystone XL’s financial backers in solidarity with the launch of the Blockade’s new strategy phase. Protesters are currently chained together and actively occupying TransCanada’s offices near Boston.

“From the Texas backwoods to the corporate boardrooms, the fight to defend our homes from toxic tar sands will not be ignored,” said Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “We’re here today to directly confront the TransCanada executives who’re continuing on with business as usual while making our communities sacrifice zones.”

Last Thursday, a tree blockade near Diboll, TX brought TransCanada’s illegal practices to light, showing that they hadn’t received permission from the county commissioner to build the pipeline through county land.

In addition to land and water concerns, the Keystone XL pipeline is a classic case of environmental racism. In Houston, the low-income neighborhoods near refineries, such as Manchester, whose residents are 90% Latino, will have to breathe the noxious wastes of the tar sands refining process.

“We’ve done everything we can to stop this pipeline: we’ve petitioned, rallied and taken direct action. The historic resistance to this pipeline shows how risky an investment this and other tar sands pipelines have become,” said Alec Johnson, one of the office blockaders. “Tar sands oil spilling into our waterways and millions of tons of carbon pollution spilling into the atmosphere means that this industry’s days are numbered.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For more information visit tarsandsblockade.org or follow us at @KXLBlockade.

###

— For immediate release —

MEDIA RELEASE: January 3, 2013

Press Contact: Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Launch video for the action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2f69tHx99k

Photos of the action are available on Tar Sands Blockade’s Flickr account here: http://flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/

Location & Visuals: Blockade is located two miles south of Diboll, TX on northbound Highway 59, a massive banner deployed there is highly visible to highway traffic

Spectacular Keystone XL Aerial Tree Blockade Halts Construction in Diboll, TX in Solidarity with Idle No More First Nations Movement
Unprecedented “dump platforms” protected by intricate 100 ft perimeter web of safety lines to protect sitters

Diboll, TX, January 3, 2013 9:00AM — Late last night, blockaders set up two “dump platforms” in trees outside of Diboll, Texas which would otherwise be cleared to make way for TransCanada’s Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline. These special “dump platforms” are shielded by an unprecedented 80-100 ft perimeter of life-lines arranged, which if disturbed would certainly dump the two blockaders nested in them roughly 50-60 ft in the air. The Blockaders are sitting in soldarity with the now global Idle No More campaign for First Nation’s human rights and tribal sovereignty that very recently started in Canada.

This new tree blockade comes just a couple weeks after the end of Tar Sands Blockade’s 85-day tree-sit near Winnsboro, TX. TransCanada rerouted the tar sands pipeline to go around the Winnsboro tree-sit, despite having told countless landowners, including Douglass resident Mike Bishop, that the route was set in stone and could not be altered to avoid bulldozing their cropland, or to go around schools, neighborhoods, or ecologically sensitive areas.

This new site is surrounded by barriers like Highway 59, railroad tracks, and Ryan Lake. With these nearby, blockaders have found a location around which the pipe cannot easily be rerouted.

The viability of this blockade depends entirely on the safe conduct of TransCanada and local police forces. They could easily end it by cutting ropes and seriously injuring or killing the tree sitters. Blockaders Audrey and Mike know the risks. They are prepared to stay on their platforms, just big enough to lie down on, indefinitely, to defend their collective home from the expansion of tar sands exploitation that Keystone XL would usher in.

“Protecting the living systems which we’re a part of is a moral necessity,” shared Audrey, who is sitting in a singular tree left in a newly-cleared field. “Extraction of the tar sands is the most destructive project on the continent. It threatens the integrity of the entire biosphere, not to mention the First Nations dependent upon access to clean water, land, and air for the health and food for their tribal communities.”

Mike, the other sitter suspended in a 50 ft skypod between two trees, agreed, “That their plight has been so long ignored by industry and policy-makers is a clear violation of their human rights and a crime of conscience. That’s why we are enthusiastically supporting the Idle No More movement!”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“Institutional methods of addressing climate change have failed us,” explained Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperon. “Rising up to defend our homes against corporate exploitation is our best and only hope to preserve life on this planet. We must normalize and embrace direct, organized resistance to the death machine of industrial extraction and stand with those like Idle No More who take extraordinary risk to defend their families and livelihoods.”

###

MEDIA RELEASE: DEC 27, 2012

Contact: Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Houston Refinery Community Demands Transparency on Valero’s Life-Threatening Pollution

Protesters on 29th Day of Hunger Strike Join Manchester Residents in Escalating Campaign Targeting Petrochemical Giant

HOUSTON, TX, DECEMBER 27, 2012 1:00 PM: Residents of the Houston neighborhood of Manchester are demanding today that the Valero refinery, which has been polluting the air surrounding their homes for decades, reveal exactly what toxins it is forcing residents to breathe. Community members were joined by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr., who have committed to an indefinite hunger strike until Valero agrees to divest from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which is linked to environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Canada. Today marks the 29th day of their sustained strike.

The event culminated with a rally and protest outside the Valero refinery that has been forcing local residents to breathe poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals for decades. Community members, organizers, Bob and Diane marched to a neighborhood park that sits in the shadow of the Valero smokestack, carrying a banner that read, “We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe.”

“I have trouble breathing, a really bad cough and asthma. It feels like I can’t breathe, it’s really scary,” said Yudith Nieto, a Houston resident who grew up in the Manchester neighborhood. “You feel helpless and you can’t understand why something like this is happening to you.”

For years residents have been purposefully misinformed and disproportionately exploited for Valero’s benefit. The Manchester community has suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions.

“Theirs is an unending war and Valero has the weapon of destruction,” said Diane Wilson, who has spent decades working to expose how the Texas petrochemical complex has been covering up spills and dumping lethal chemicals into bays along Gulf Coast. “A popular motto of the unions was that an injury to one is an injury to all. Well, make no mistake: Manchester is being harmed.”

Community groups Tar Sands Blockade and TEJAS have been actively organizing a campaign of growing resistance in Manchester, highlighted most recently when Gulf Coast activists Wilson and Lindsey Jr. began a sustained hunger strike on November 29th, after locking their necks to tanker trucks destined for the Valero refinery.

“Manchester is a living example of environmental racism,” said María Jiménez, TEJAS board member and life-long resident of Houston’s East End. “Today segregation means the unequal impact of air, water, and noise pollution on historically marginalized communities. Whether it’s the immediate health effects or the long term chronic illnesses, Manchester suffers while Valero pursues record profits.”

 ###

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services) is a non-profit dedicated to educational outreach on health concerns arising from environmental pollution and organizing to empower community members with the tools necessary to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities.

_____________

MEDIA RELEASE: Dec 13, 2012

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Video of Michael Bishop and supporters reaction to the ruling on the courthouse steps: http://tarsandsblockade.org/bishophearing/

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/sets/72157632240618694/

Community Rallies in Support of Nacogdoches Co. Landowner as Legal Ruling Allows Keystone XL Construction to Move Forward on His Land

NACOGDOCHES, TX, DECEMBER 13, 2012 10:30AM — In a blow to landowner’s rights, Texas communities’ waterways and the climate, a county judge in Texas this morning ruled to allow construction of the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to continue on a landowner’s property until a hearing on December 19. Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz this morning reversed the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) he granted to landowner Michael Bishop from Douglass, TX earlier this week by dissolving the TRO at the behest of TransCanada.

Representing himself pro se, Bishop contends that TransCanada defrauded him and other local landowners in the path of the pipeline about the contents of Keystone XL before threatening to employ eminent domain and other intimidation tactics to seize their land. Bishop will seek an injunction on construction at the December 19 hearing.

Unlike conventional crude oil, tar sands is a heavy, corrosive substance that must be diluted with toxic cancer-causing chemicals and pressurized before being transported through pipelines like Keystone XL. Tar sands extraction alone produces three to five times more carbon pollution than conventional oil.

Mr. Bishop and grassroots community groups had the following statements in response to Judge Sinz’s ruling:

Michael Bishop, a retired chemist, Marine Corps veteran and landowner whose land would be crossed by Keystone XL, said:

“TransCanada executives may be smirking over Judge Sinz’s ruling today, but they’ve got another thing coming if they think I’ll just roll over for its dirty pipeline. I didn’t pick this fight, but I refuse to sit idly by while a multinational corporation tramples my rights and that of other landowners all along Keystone XL’s path in the name of deepening its profits.”

Vicki Baggett, a member of Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P. (Stop Tar sands Oil Permanently), said:

“Today’s court ruling is a strike against our rights to clean water and a safe, healthy future but we remain undeterred. Tar sands isn’t your grandfather’s oil. It’s toxic and dangerous. I refuse to allow my community to become a sacrifice zone for the dirtiest fuel on Earth.”

Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade, said:

“From the streets to the courts, we will not rest until Keystone XL is stopped for good. Michael Bishop’s case is a textbook example of TransCanada bullying and bankrupting any landowner or community member brave enough to say ‘no’ to this monstrous project. We’ll continue to stand with landowners like Mr. Bishop in this David versus Goliath fight to defend our homes and climate from toxic tar sands.”

###

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P. (Stop Tar sands Oil Permanently) is a grassroots organization of landowners and community activists working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and all tar sands projects in East Texas.

_____

For immediate release

December 3, 2012

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375[email protected]

Check our live blog for breaking updates and video: http://tarsandsblockade.org/14th-action/

Photos with visuals inside and outside the pipe will be available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/

Two People Barricade Themselves Inside Keystone XL Pipe To Halt Construction 

Using Completely Unprecedented Technique, Blockaders Barricade Unburied Segment of Pipe in Solidarity with Anti-Extraction Struggles Across North America 

WINONA, TX – MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2012 7:30 AM – Several protesters with Tar Sands Blockade sealed themselves inside a section of pipe destined for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to stop construction of the dangerous project. Using a blockading technique never implemented before, Matt Almonte and Glen Collins locked themselves between two barrels of concrete weighing over six hundred pounds each. Located twenty-five feet into a pipe segment waiting to be laid in the ground, the outer barrel is barricading the pipe’s opening and neither barrel can be moved without risking serious injury to the blockaders.

The barricaded section of the pipeline passes through a residential neighborhood in Winona, TX. If TransCanada moves ahead with the trenching and burying of this particular section of pipe, it would run less than a hundred feet from neighboring homes. Tar sands pipelines threaten East Texas communities with their highly toxic contents, which pose a greater risk to human health than conventional crude oil. TransCanada’s existing tar sands pipeline, Keystone XL’s predecessor, has an atrocious safety record, leaking twelve times in its first year of operation.

“TransCanada didn’t bother to ask the people of this neighborhood if they wanted to have millions of gallons of poisonous tar sands pumped through their backyards,” said Almonte, one of the protesters now inside the pipeline. “This multinational corporation has bullied landowners and expropriated homes to fatten its bottom line.”

Recently, over 40 communities worldwide planned actions with Tar Sands Blockade during a week of resistance against extreme energy extraction and its direct connection to the climate crisis. A growing global movement is rising up against the abuses of the fossil fuel industry and its increasingly desperate pursuit of dangerous extraction methods.

“I’m barricading this pipe with Tar Sands Blockade today to say loud and clear to the extraction industry that our communities and the resources we depend on for survival are not collateral damage,” said Collins, another blockader inside the pipe and an organizer with Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS) and Mountain Justice, grassroots campaigns in Appalachia working to stop mountaintop removal coal mining.

“This fight in East Texas against tar sands exploitation is one and the same as our fight in the hollers of West Virginia. Dirty energy extraction doesn’t just threaten my home; it threatens the collective future of the planet.”

“At this late stage, doing nothing is a greater danger than the risks of taking direct action to stop destructive projects like Keystone XL,” said Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade. “That’s why folks working with groups like RAMPS, the Unist’ot’en Camp fighting a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia and Tar Sands Blockade are willing to use everything including their own hands and feet to ensure we all have a safe climate and healthy, thriving communities.”

Today also marks day 5 of the Houston Hunger Strike in which Gulf Coast activists with Tar Sands Blockade are going without food to demand that Valero divest entirely from the Keystone XL pipeline and invest in the health and wellbeing of the communities it’s poisoning.

###

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

___________

December 1, 2012

Contact: Kim Huynh, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375kxlblo[email protected]

Check our live blog for updates: http://tarsandsblockade.org/nacbikeride/

Photos available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/

Tar Sands Blockade and Allies Host Community Bike Ride and Teach-In to Highlight Threats of Keystone XL 

Community Event Features Michigan Residents’ First-Hand Accounts of the Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill as a Cautionary Tale for Texas 

NACOGDOCHES, TX – SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2012 1:00 PM – A community coalition hosted a family-friendly community bike ride and educational event this morning to raise awareness of the dangers the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline poses on Texas communities’ water and land and to support local landowners in the pipeline’s path. The groups comprising the coalition include Tar Sands Blockade, Nacogdoches County S.T.O.P. (Stop Tar sands Oil Permanently), Stephen F. Austin State University student environmental group T.E.A.M. (Texas Environmental Awareness Movement) and the Nacogdoches Rat Skulls, a local women’s cycling advocacy organization.

“If constructed, Keystone XL will run only hundreds of feet away from schools in the nearby Douglass Independent School District in Nacogdoches County,” said Vicki Baggett, an organizer of today’s events and member of NacS.T.O.P., a grassroots organization of East Texans organizing against Keystone XL. “This pipeline would directly jeopardize students, teachers and our local communities with daily threats of a toxic spill. And yet, TransCanada’s coercion and repression of landowners and concerned citizens saying ‘no’ to Keystone XL in the name of our children’s health and collective future has been nothing short of criminal.”

Coalition members facilitated a teach-in and discussion with dozens of community members on the unique threats toxic tar sands pose to East Texas and how community members can get involved in the fight to halt the Keystone XL pipeline and all tar sands projects. Following the teach-in, coalition and community members joined together in a planned bike ride ending at the Nine Flags Christmas Festival in downtown Nacogdoches.

“Since every elected official in Texas prioritizes the oil and gas industry ahead of their own constituents’ health, safety and land rights, we’re left with nothing but our hands, feet and ingenuity to stop this dirty and dangerous project,” said Lizzy Alvarado, a Stephen F. Austin State University student and founding member of the Nacogdoches Rat Skulls.

Alvarado was arrested for climbing a 50 ft. tree and launching an aerial blockade at a crossing of the Angelina River during last Monday’s day of mass action in Nacogdoches to halt Keystone XL construction. She spoke today to the power of taking non-violent direct action and led the community bike ride. “Today, we’re riding to model the alternative vision for a future powered by people and pedals—one free of the injustices wrought by tar sands exploitation.”

The event also featured first-hand accounts from Tar Sands Blockade members Elizabeth Chiaravalli and Dakoda Benson from Kalamazoo, Michigan, whose communities’ public health, local economy and ecosystems were threatened when Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge spilled more than a million gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010 in what would become the largest and most expensive onshore oil spill in U.S. history. More than two years later, residents are still reeling with headaches, strange skin rashes and respiratory problems, property values in the area have plunged and large swaths of tar sands still remain on the Kalamazoo riverbed.

“I grew up swimming in a part of the Kalamazoo that flowed through my backyard. The river was literally my home,” said Benson, who was also arrested during last Monday’s day of mass action for locking down to heavy construction machinery. “I’m tired of profit-hungry corporations like Enbridge and TransCanada deciding when and where they can poison our people and essential resources, while also irrevocably altering the climate system we depend on for survival. The Kalamazoo tragedy should be a powerful cautionary tale for the Nacogdoches community and all in the path of Keystone XL. I’m taking action with Tar Sands Blockade to ensure that what happened in Michigan never happens anywhere else.”

###

— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Kim Huynh, Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade spokespeople, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Check our live blog for breaking updates: http://tarsandsblockade.org/12th-action/

Photos and video with great visuals will be available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsblockade/

Nearly 40 People Stop Keystone XL Construction: Four Lock to Machinery, Nacogdoches Student and Two Others Launch a New Tree Blockade

Day of Action Sees Dozens Walk On to Work Site as the Nacogdoches Community Rallies with Affected Landowners at Lake Nacogdoches to Protect Fresh Water Supply from Toxic Tar Sands

NACOGDOCHES, TX – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2012 8:00AM – Today, four people locked themselves to heavy machinery used along the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline route. They were joined by several others forming a human chain to block the movement of heavy machinery onsite, while more than 30 people walked onto the same construction site to halt work early this morning. Meanwhile, three others launched a new tree blockade at a crossing of the Angelina River, suspending themselves from 50 foot pine trees with life lines anchored to heavy machinery, effectively blocking the entirety of Keystone XL’s path. Today’s Day of Action is in solidarity with local landowners struggling to protect their water and land from TransCanada’s toxic tar sands pipeline.

Keystone XL would cross 16 large rivers in Texas, including the site of today’s latest tree blockade, the scenic Angelina River. Nestled amongst 50 foot pine trees in forested bottomlands, the tree blockaders have settled in for a long standoff in protection of their fresh drinking and agricultural water. The waters downstream feed into the popular Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the largest lake entirely within the state of Texas, renowned for its angling opportunities and competitions.

“Tar Sands Blockade stands with all communities affected by the Canadian tar sands. From indigenous nations in Alberta, Canada to the besieged refinery neighborhoods of the American Gulf Coast where the tar sands will be refined, there’s a groundswell of resistance demanding an end to toxic tar sands exploitation. Today’s events simply mark the latest in our sustained, community-based civil disobedience campaign, and many more communities are destined to rise up to defend their homes from TransCanada’s fraud, bullying, and reckless endangerment of their lives and fresh water,” insisted Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson.

Included amongst the Angelina tree sitters is local Stephen F. Austin State University student, Lizzy Alvarado, 21, an Austin-born, third-year cinematography major. Leading outdoor excursions for other local youth and having helped found the Nacogdoches Rat Skulls, an all female cycling-advocacy organization, Alvarado is an active member of the Nacogdoches community.

“I climbed this tree in honor of all the landowners who have been bullied mercilessly into signing easement contracts and who were then silenced through fear by TransCanada’s threat of endless litigation. That’s not what this country stands for in my mind, and if we don’t take a stand here to secure our rights now, then it will keep happening to everyone,” proclaimed Alvarado. “What’s happening isn’t just threatening my community’s drinking water but it will threaten that of all communities along the pipeline’s path.“

While these multisite actions halted Keystone XL construction this morning, local community members rallied at Lake Nacogdoches to further highlight the threats Keystone XL poses to the community’s watershed and public health. These events around the Nacogdoches area coincide with a week’s worth of events in solidarity with Tar Sands Blockade. Scheduled to occur in over 40 communities around the world, these actions highlight the urgent need to address the climate crisis.

Some actions have targeted policy makers or financial institutions bankrolling dirty energy projects while others rallied to address the damage done by Hurricane Sandy through community organizing and connecting extreme weather to extreme extraction. Yesterday in Washington, DC, more than 3,000 gathered at the White House to call on President Obama to reject the permit for the northern segment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Other actions are scheduled to happen today and later this week.

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“From the Sandy-decimate streets of New York City to these piney woods here in East Texas, communities are resisting dangerous corporations like TransCanada. These solidarity actions are part of a burgeoning movement of ordinary folks coming together in their neighborhoods, schools, and community centers to draw the connections between extreme extraction like tar sands exploitation and extreme weather like the droughts devastating farmers and ranchers all over Texas and the Midwest. Today we rally to build a future where all people and the planet are healthy and thriving,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: November 16, 2012

Contact: Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade, 940-268-5375, [email protected]

Tar Sands Blockade Hosts Community Rally and Action in Nacogdoches, Texas Monday 

East Texas Among 40 Communities Worldwide Joining the Tar Sands Blockade in Taking Bold Action to Defend Our Homes Against Dirty Energy and Climate Change

What: The Tar Sands Blockade will host a family-friendly community rally and actions on Monday, November 19th to support local landowners living in the path of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s southern leg. Monday’s events mark the latest in a sustained direct action campaign based in Texas communities to defend their homes.

Events in Texas coincide with a week of solidarity actions in communities around the world spotlighting an urgent need to address the climate crisis. Following a summer of unprecedented extreme weather and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the Tar Sands Blockade has called for this week’s actions. Events are planned for 40 locations worldwide and counting.

Who: Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

When: Monday, November 19th, 2012; 10:30am

Where: Lake Nacogdoches, West Park. Located off CR 225, 9 miles west of Nacogdoches Loop 224, turn north at park sign to lake.

Sample of events: (see http://tarsandsblockade.org/solidarityactions1/ for a full list of events)

  • Saturday, November 17 – Occupy Sandy and Stop Spectra Pipeline Coalition takes action to respond to the devastation of the climate super powered storm, Hurricane Sandy and put an end to hydro-fracking.
  • Sunday, November 18 – Over 3,500 people are expected to rally at the White House to call on President Obama to reject the permit for the Keystone XL northern segment. Event organized by 350.org, Sierra Club, and other allies.
  • Monday, November 19 – Community organizations in St. Louis are taking action to target JP Morgan Chase for bankrolling the tar sands extraction. Event organized by Missourians Organizing for Empowerment and Reform and Climate Action St. Louis.
  • Monday, November 19 – Residents of Salt Lake City are performing theatrical exhibitions outside The Bureau of Land Management for its approval of public lands for the first tar sands mine in the US. Event organized by Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance.
  • Tuesday, November 20 – In London, UK Tar Sands Network, Rising Tide UK and others will protest a meeting of Canadian Tar Sands executives, banking industry representatives and government leaders meeting to discuss further expansion of Alberta tar sands extraction.

Why: “These solidarity actions are part of a burgeoning movement of ordinary folks coming together in their neighborhoods, schools, and community centers to draw the connections between extreme energy like tar sands exploitation and the extreme weather like droughts impacting farmers and ranchers in East Texas. Today we rally to build a future where all people and the planet are healthy and thriving,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade.

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:
Grace Cagle, 817-658-0246, [email protected] – onsite media for Winnsboro, TX
Cindy Spoon, 210-860-2251, [email protected] – onsite media for Sacul, TX

Green Party Presidential Candidate Resupplies Tree Village as 2nd Tree Blockade Comes Online

Trio of New England women risk arrest to highlight Keystone XL’s link to extreme weather, Hurricane Sandy

WINNSBORO and SACUL, TEXAS – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2012 8:00AM– As Hurricane Sandy pushes further inland to devastate Appalachia and Canada, three women from New England, including Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein, are risking arrest to highlight the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s connection to extreme weather events and climate change. Dr. Stein, a Massachusetts resident, is resupplying tree sitters in Winnsboro, Texas as two women from New England launch a new tree blockade a few hours to the south near Sacul, Texas. The Winnsboro tree blockade has sustained resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline for 38 days.

“The climate is taking this election by storm, breaking the silence of the Obama and Romney campaigns that have been bought and paid for by the oil, coal and gas companies,” said Dr. Stein. “Hurricane Sandy is just a taste of what’s to come under the climate destroying policies of Romney and Obama. We must stand up now and call for climate solutions and green prosperity. The blockaders are heroes. They are on the front line of stopping even worse climate storms in the future.”

Now blocking the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from two new tree platforms in Sacul, Texas to the northwest of Nacogdoches are a 24 year old duo of lifelong New England residents, Pika from Vermont and Lauren from New Hampshire. Their platforms are suspended in trees on either side of a Keystone XL highway crossing and are tied to heavy equipment, effectively immobilizing the equipment to the north and south of the crossing. Both were driven to participate with Tar Sands Blockade after witnessing the extraordinary hardship of extreme weather on their communities and extended families.

“Just a year ago, Vermont was hit really hard by Hurricane Irene. I spent months helping friends and family clean out basements and rebuild houses that were completely destroyed by flooding,“ shared Pika. “I have extended family in Arizona and Colorado who have been just crushed by the drought and the forest fires that have been happening in the last few years. I came here because this is one of the foremost campaigns against the most destructive resource extraction industry at the root of the climate crisis we are living in today.”

Lauren added, “I’ve always held the environment in the fore of my mind, but I haven’t always been as sensitive to the personal stories of people directly impacted by pollution as I am today. Knowing that the ruin in my home state from Sandy only stands to be amplified by the toxic, leaky Keystone XL and the extreme impact of carbon emissions from ongoing tar sands development; joining with folks from all across the political spectrum to stop it; it’s a powerfully humanizing process.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“From the protesters defending the coast in British Columbia to the coastal residents of New England, Tar Sands Blockade stands in solidarity with communities across the continent threatened by climate change,” said Cindy Spoon, lifelong Texan and spokesperson for the Blockade. “Texas continues to suffer from the consequences of extreme drought and record setting wildfires. Defending our homes from destructive corporations like TransCanada is the best way to guard against a future of runaway climate change. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will only exacerbate the extraordinary climate challenges we face today.”

 

— For immediate release —

Press Contact:
Ramsey Sprague, 334-462-4484, [email protected]
Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Gulf Oilfield Wife, Mother of 6 Chains Self to Keystone XL Pipeyard Gate, Blocking Entrance

Cherri Foytlin: All coasts must be defended from tar sands development

WINFIELD, TEXAS – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2012 – Drawing connections to all coastal communities threatened by toxic tar sands development, Cherri Foytlin, an indigenous South Louisiana mother of six and wife of an Gulf Coast oilfield worker, chained herself to the gate of a Keystone XL pipeyard. Effectively blocking pipe from being shipped to construction sites along the controversial pipeline’s route, Foytlin’s action coincides with the Defend Our Coast activities in British Columbia, where more than 60 Canadian communities are protesting a proposed tar sands pipeline through their region. Hers marks the 32nd arrest since Tar Sands Blockade’s actions began over two months ago and today marks the 31st day of sustained protest at its Winnsboro tree blockade.

“This pipeline is a project of death. From destructive tar sands development that destroy indigenous sovereignty and health at the route’s start to the toxic emissions that will lay further burden on environmental justice communities along the Gulf of Mexico, this pipeline not only disproportionately affects indigenous frontline communities but its clear that it will bring death and disease to all in its path,” Foytlin declared.

Refusing to accept the Gulf Coast’s designation as the Nation’s Energy Sacrifice Zone, Foytlin, along with many Gulf Coast residents and indigenous activists are dismayed but not surprised to find the conversations regarding Keystone XL as a whole from national environmental groups to the Presidential campaigns have made little to no mention of the damage TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline will heap upon Gulf Coast communities like Houston and Port Arthur, TX, where Keystone XL will terminate. Already overburdened with oil refineries and other dirty energy related industry, this neglectful attitude dovetails neatly with TransCanada’s reckless disregard for the health and safety of families in the refinery communities and elsewhere along the pipeline’s route.

The Rayne, Louisiana resident, who in the Spring of 2011 walked 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington D.C. as a call for action to stop the BP Drilling Disaster, has been a constant voice speaking out for the health and ecosystems of Gulf Coast communities.

She continued, “This fight is also about the personal freedoms given to us through the blood of all of our combined ancestry. Conservatives believe government is too big, that they are choking out our freedoms. The Occupy Movement believes corporations have kidnapped those same rights in the pursuit of profit over humanity. I believe both groups are right, and this pipeline and the use of eminent domain by a foreign company to seize and lay claim to American land, aided by the silence of the government, is an epic example of those truths.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“From the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast, Tar Sands Blockade acts in solidarity with all communities and indigenous people rising up to defend their homes from toxic tar sands pipelines. The refinery communities of the Gulf Coast have historically been and continue to be treated as collateral damage by industry and now landowners from Canada to Texas are learning that reality, too,” stated Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson born in Houma, Louisiana to a Chitimacha family. “From start to finish, tar sands development only further endangers communities already at far greater risk for death and disease from toxic environmental exposure to man-made chemical pollutants than communities further away from the petroleum refineries and the unconscionable mining operations that define their origins.”

 

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

Over 50 Enter Tar Sands Blockade Tree Village in Defiance of Police and Legal Repression to Defend Tree-Sitters

Risking arrest, lawsuits protesters rally for massive tree blockade after expansion of TransCanada’s overreaching SLAPP suit

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2012 – Following a weekend of nonviolent civil disobedience training in North Texas by Tar Sands Blockade, many dozens of protesters and supporters are rallying today at the site of the largest and longest tree sit in Texas history to stage the largest walk-on site protest and civil disobedience in the history of Keystone XL pipeline construction. Several individuals are defending the tree sitters and the trees by locking themselves to construction equipment being used in proximity to the forest blockade. Solidarity actions are also taking place in Washington DC, Boston, Austin and New York City.

Altogether more than 50 blockaders are risking arrest to stop Keystone XL construction and bring attention to TransCanada’s repression of journalists attempting to cover the blockaders’ side of the story. They are joined by dozens of supporters who are rallying on public property with colorful banners and signs alongside the easement’s closest highway crossing. A massive media team is in tow to document the day of action and any possible police repression.

As the Winnsboro tree blockade enters its fourth week, despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and egregious criminal overcharges by local law enforcement. Due to the SLAPP suits’ outrageous claims, the tree sitters have by-and-large felt too threatened to safely reveal their identities, despite their protest being nonviolent. That the defiant walk-on protest is the largest yet attempted in the history of protests surrounding Keystone XL construction sends a clear signal that the blockaders will not be deterred by SLAPP suits and other legal threats to limit their civil liberties.

“Three weeks is a long time to be sitting in a tree. The training I got this weekend has me ready to rise up and join the sitters in defending Texas homes from the toxic tar sands,” shared Glenn Hobbit, 28. “They’re saying we might get sued or worse, but stopping this pipeline is too important.”

Last week, the multinational corporation opened a civil suit in which it named 19 individual defendants, 3 organizations, and 6 anonymous tree sitters for a total of 28 defendants seeking an injunction, declaratory relief, and damages. All the named defendants are former arrestees of Tar Sands Blockade actions with the exception of media spokesperson Ron Seifert, who has yet been arrested in connection with a protest, and area landowner Eleanor Fairchild, who acted independently with activist and actor Daryl Hannah. Hannah was not named in the suit.

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“In reality, Tar Sands Blockade is not trespassing on TransCanada’s property. Many of TransCanada’s easement contracts were brokered through fraud and intimidation, and their entire legal foundation is being challenged in the courts for those reasons,” explained Ron Seifert, Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “If anything TransCanada is trespassing on the property of landowners who never wanted anything to do with their dangerous tar sands pipeline.”

 

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

TransCanada Tramples Free Press, Police Detain New York Times Reporter, Photographer on Private Property

Paid by TransCanada, police handcuff and detain journalists and deny coverage of pipeline protest

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2012 – Two journalists working for the New York Times were handcuffed, detained and then turned away from private property by local law enforcement employed as private security guards for multinational pipeline corporation TransCanada. The journalists reporting on the first tree blockade in Texas history, now in its third week of sustained resistance to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, were grabbed by police, physically restrained, and prevented from approaching the blockade site or making contact with protesters. These repressive actions took place on private property, indicating that TransCanada is employing a private police force to actively patrol beyond the boundaries of the Keystone XL easement without landowner permission.

A Times spokesperson released a statement saying, “While reporting a story on how protestors in East Texas are trying to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being built, [a Times reporter] and a Times photographer were detained yesterday by local police and a TransCanada security guard; they were told for trespassing. They identified themselves as media and were released but told they needed to leave the private property where they had positioned themselves (with the permission of the landowner). They complied.”

Minutes after the first two journalists were handcuffed, police barred another group of journalists from approaching even within sixty feet of the Keystone XL easement, an arbitrary designation with no legal precedent.

Yesterday’s events came only one day after the arrests of another two journalists, Lorenzo Serna and Elizabeth Arce, who one week ago had climbed to the top of the blockade’s timber scaffolding to interview several courageous protesters. Although the two journalists were allowed to climb the wall without harassment, police waiting on the ground threatened Serna and Arce with arrest as soon as they attempted to climb back down. Despite clearly displayed press credentials, the two were arrested upon descent ultimately to have their charges dropped only after spending a night in Wood County jail.

These events mark the latest in a series in which journalists and the Constitutional ideal of a free press suffer the same disrespect and abuse that TransCanada has shown to families along the Keystone XL pipeline route for years. Reports have included open threats of arrest on private property, the confiscation of cameras and video equipment, and arrests of by-standers on public right of ways. All the while, questions linger regarding the legality of policing the Keystone XL pipeline easement in this way.

Arthur Judge, a Wood County deputy sheriff, admitted to Texas landowner Susan Scott that TransCanada was paying the police by the hour to work private security details. “He was patrolling the easement on my farm and he informed me that his mandate was to arrest anyone at anytime that sets foot on the easement,” attests Ms. Scott. “The officer also demanded that I show ID or he would arrest me, all this while I was standing on my own private property in the middle of the woods. TransCanada is ordering to police to arrest me just for trying to take a walk across my own farm.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“What TransCanada is doing is illegal,” contends Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “TransCanada does not own the property; they have no rights over the property other than permission to install a pipeline. So long as a landowner is not interfering with their ability to use the land for the purpose of installing and maintaining a pipeline, that landowner still has the ability to do whatever they want on the land. TransCanada is paying the police to violate civil liberties and constitutionally protected land rights.”

 

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Paul Bassis, 707-223-2547, [email protected]

Daryl Hannah, Farmer Arrested for Trespass while Protesting Keystone XL on Farmer’s Own Ranch

Protest inspired by tree-sits undertaken by “Tar Sands Blockade” activists on neighboring property

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – Thursday, October 4, 2012 3:30PM – Actress and activist Daryl Hannah joined forces with Winnsboro ranch owner Eleanor Fairchild, 78, to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in an afternoon protest on Mrs. Fairchild’s family farm. Ms. Hannah is intent on defending Mrs. Fairchild’s home and business, Fairchild Farms, a portion of which has been expropriated by Keystone XL owner, TransCanada, for its toxic tar sands pipeline. The duo claim their action is inspired by an ongoing tree-sit by an organization called Tar Sands Blockade occurring on a neighboring property.

On Thursday afternoon, Hannah marched across Fairchild Farms with the ranch owner to block bulldozers from continuing to clear large swaths of Mrs. Fairchild’s land along the controversial tar sands pipeline’s route. Keystone XL will permanently bisect Mrs. Fairchild’s 300 acre ranch, which includes undeveloped wetland areas and natural springs producing over 400 gallons of fresh water per minute. Hannah, whose outspoken anti-Keystone position dates back many years, expressed pride in being able to stand with Mrs. Fairchild who is watching her home and its delicate ecosystems be destroyed in front of her eyes.

“I am standing in solidarity with the farmers, ranchers, and landowners who have been bullied, coerced, and threatened by TransCanada. Texans do not want this toxic export pipeline coming through and compromising their land and water,” she shared. “Texas has already experienced a tragic and epic drought. We cannot afford to compromise our water supply for a multinational corporation’s profits.”

Mrs. Fairchild, a great grandmother, has been staunchly opposed to TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project since she was first informed of it several years ago. She never signed a contract with the Canadian pipeline company, who, in turn, proceeded to expropriate her ranch through Texas’ lax eminent domain legal proceedings.

Originally unwilling to take action, she found inspiration in the bravery exhibited on a neighboring property by a group calling themselves the Tar Sands Blockade. Mrs. Fairchild explains, “We’re all neighbors here and everyone knows everyone’s business, really, so I knew the group was up to something at the tree blockade, but hearing about the young girl, Mary, on the 40-foot tall pole all alone the other day, I knew I had to do something myself. I can’t climb a pole like her, but if I can raise hell by sitting down, I’m going to! What this foreign corporation’s doing just isn’t right.”

“I couldn’t be prouder to take a stand with my new inspiration, Eleanor,” Hannah said. “We’re rising up to defend homes here and now, because if a multinational corporation like TransCanada can come in and steal private property from Texans, then they’ll do it to anyone.”

TransCanada is currently embroiled in several lawsuits from landowners challenging the legality of their use of eminent domain to take land for the tar sands pipeline project. Property owners who initially signed contracts but who have since come to unequivocally oppose the fraudulent nature of the dangerous project have been silenced through ruthless legal threats. Fairchild, however, is undeterred.

“Tar sands is the dirtiest fuel on the planet, and I want the world to know that Texans do not want this pipeline forced through their homes.” She continued, “From the White House to my house, I don’t want this pipe threatening anyone’s house anywhere in the world!”

 

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

 

Keystone XL Construction Stopped as Tar Sands Protester Locks to Underground Capsule

Tar Sands Blockade defends yet another Texas home from eminent domain abuse

 

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – Monday, October 1, 2012 8:00AM – A Tar Sands Blockade protester has stopped the destruction of a small family farm in East Texas by locking himself in front of oncoming Keystone XL clearing equipment. Houston resident, Alejandro de la Torre, 28, is taking action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from destroying the home of yet another Texas family threatened by TransCanada’s poisonous tar sands slurry.

In a powerful display of conviction, De la Torre locked his arm into a concrete capsule buried directly in the proposed path of the toxic pipeline. This courageous act is preventing TransCanada’s unwelcomed onslaught of machines from devastating property captured through eminent domain abuse.

“I was raised in New Orleans, so I’ve seen how local communities suffer at the hands of multinational corporations,” attests de la Torre. “I’m willing to risk arrest today to stop this tar sands pipeline because I have the privilege to help protect the safety of those most affected. Keystone XL endangers the health and safety of everyone from the landowners and their families now threatened by cancer causing leaks, to the refinery communities in Houston that have to breathe the dirty air, as well as people of color around the world who are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

In a separate protest just miles away on the other side of Winnsboro, Tar Sands Blockade’s aerial tree protest enters into its second week. Sitters in platforms nearly 100 feet in the air are not deterred by reckless behavior on the part of TransCanada’s work crews. Despite repeated warning of the dangers on the part of the protesters, the company is encouraging the use of dangerous tree clearing equipment within feet of protesters’ trees, endangering their lives.

Today’s blockade comes less than a week after TransCanada supervisors encouraged law enforcement to brutalize two peaceful protesters who were acting in defense of the largest tree blockade in Texas history. One of the abused protesters, Benjamin Franklin, explained why peaceful civil disobedience must continue despite the violence orchestrated by TransCanada, “I encourage everyone to persevere in the face of this type of sheer brutality. To follow one’s moral compass in spite of extreme challenges is the way we move forward towards a more humane, tar sands-free planet.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and organizers using nonviolent direct action to physically stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“TransCanada doesn’t have any local community ties, it lies about the safety of its pipeline because it cares more about money than about people,” claims Ron Seifert, spokesperson for Tar Sands Blockade. “If this multinational corporation had any compassion for East Texan’s homes, it would respect our constitutionally protected property rights instead of condemning the land and using it for its own private gain.”

 

WHERE: Protest is at pipeline route crossing of TX State Highway 11, about 3 miles east of downtown Winnsboro, Texas.

For more information, visit TarSandsBlockade.org.

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]


TransCanada Endangers Lives of Dozens of Peaceful Keystone XL Protesters in East Texas

Tar Sands Blockade is prepared to remain in trees as long as it takes to halt the tar sands pipeline despite dangers posed by TransCanada’s reckless endangerment of their lives


WINNSBORO, TEXAS – Thursday, September 26, 2012 10:00AM – TransCanada has been operating heavy timber clearing machinery within 20 feet of the site of a massive tree blockade, endangering the lives of nine protesters prepared to remain in the trees to halt the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Tar Sands Blockaders in trees remain undeterred by TransCanada’s reckless behavior.

The sustained tree blockade entered its fourth day today following a day where work crews, under the direction and supervision of TransCanada, operated their machinery in recklessly close proximity to their tree sits. The machinery, feller bunchers, are so dangerous and unpredictable that one completely flipped over just this past Monday less than a mile away from the tree sit as documented on the Blockade’s website.

In a separate incident, as captured by video, J.G. Genson, 30, was almost seriously injured in a separate incident Tuesday when an operator of this same piece of machinery aggressively tossed a tree in his direction in clear view of TransCanada and independent contractor supervisors.

A group of blockaders cautiously approached the feller buncher establishing their presence with the machine’s operator, who had a tree ready to unload. His direct supervisors were in direct view and the operator halted tree clearing temporarily. Stopping within 50 feet of the body of the machine and within reach of its swinging arm, Genson sat himself next to a pile of freshly felled trees. The operator then started moving the machine again in clear view of his supervisors, tilting the tree and dropping it onto the fresh timber pile. Genson was forced to leap out of the way to avoid life-threatening injury as the tree rolled down the pile directly towards where he was seated.

“It just felt like he was aiming a loaded gun at me and would pull the trigger any second,” recalls Genson. “TransCanada seems to have abandoned all safety protocols to plow this toxic pipeline through our homes.”

This incident immediately followed the torture of two protesters, Shannon Beebe and Benjamin Franklin, who were arrested following a five hour protest where they locked themselves to the same feller buncher earlier that day. While locked together to the timber equipment, they were subjected to cruel “pain compliance” techniques with the active encouragement of TransCanada supervisors which included sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spraying, and repeated tasering – all while their free arms were handcuffed behind their backs to the machine in extreme stress positions to coerce the two to abandon their protest.

“TransCanada is treating us as poorly as they are treating the landowners and the land itself,” said Cody Rose, seated 40 feet above ground on a timber scaffolding blockade. “They have complete disregard for our lives, the safety of our friends and neighbors, not to mention the future of a livable planet.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“Clearly, TransCanada’s repeated claims of concern for our safety and the safety of their workers are bald-faced lies,” said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “To give the ok to continue dangerous, certainly life-threatening, operations when a human is clearly at risk of death or dismemberment is unconscionable. But this is just a sad, shocking, continuation of TransCanada’s implicit and explicit threats of real harm to our friends and neighbors who never wanted anything do to with this project in the first place but now have no choice but to defend their homes.”

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

TransCanada Encourages Torture Tactics on Peaceful Protesters, Use of Choke Holds, Pepper Spray, and Tasers

Another participant joins tree blockade in response, as civil disobedience enters third day

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – Wednesday, September 26, 2012 8:00AM –Nine people sitting 80 feet above ground in tree platforms on the path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL construction enter their third day of sustained action to stop the toxic tar sands pipeline. The sitters are undeterred by TransCanada’s role in the torture of their fellow blockaders.

Tuesday, Shannon Bebe and Benjamin Franklin delayed construction for most of the day when they locked arms around construction machinery, intent on protecting East Texas homes. The two were subjected to torture tactics by police only after TransCanada’s senior supervisors huddled with law enforcement to actively encourage the use of extreme pain compliance techniques on the peaceful protesters.

Immediately following TransCanada’s consultation, law enforcement handcuffed the protesters’ free hands to the heavy machinery in stress positions and proceeded to use sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and repeated tasering to coerce the two to abandon their protest. Extraordinarily, despite their torture, the two endured for over five hours, affirming their courageous stance that taking action now is less of a risk than doing nothing.

Upon the protesters’ arrest, TransCanada supervisors were seen and heard congratulating law enforcement on a job well done.

“TransCanada has frequently claimed its interest in protecting the safety of workers and protestors but now we can see that’s all a lie,” said Ron Seifert a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “Now that they have actively encouraged the torture of peaceful protestors its clear that this multinational corporation assigns no value to the basic humanity that all Texans and people everywhere deserve.”

With the news that their friends had been tortured with TransCanada’s approval, the eight original tree sitters were bravely joined by another, expanding the tree blockade further as TransCanada’s clear-cutting heavy machinery rapidly approaches. Construction is roughly 300 yards away from the tree blockade. All refuse to come down until TransCanada halts its dangerous pipeline project.

“I climbed this tree three days ago in the path of Keystone XL to demonstrate the dangers of this toxic pipeline and to let TransCanada know that we will continue to non-violently resist their brutal tactics,” said Justin Jacobs, an aerial blockader. “I’m here to defend this land from a multinational corporation who has blatant disregard for the safety of peaceful people, families, and our planet.“

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Concluding hours of hard-fought Keystone XL construction delays, Benjamin Franklin shared, “In light of everything that happened at the direction of TransCanada, I still don’t regret my involvement at all. I encourage everyone to persevere in the face of this type of sheer brutality. To follow one’s moral compass despite extreme challenges is the way we move forward towards a more humane, tar sands-free planet.”

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TO VISIT: www.TarSandsBlockade.org

— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

Two Lock Selves to Keystone XL Machinery to Protect Eight Tree Sitters

Eight tree sitters continue holding indefinite vigil in massive tree village as clear cutting along Keystone XL path is halted

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – September 25 2012, 10:50AM – Two Texas-born Tar Sands Blockaders have locked themselves to a critical piece of equipment for TransCanada’s Keystone XL construction in order to protect a massive tree village in the direct path of the toxic tar sands pipeline.

The village, where eight tree sitters remain in vigil, is on property that TransCanada now claims ownership of through court action. Keystone XL construction crews have advanced just over 300 yards away from the northern boundary of Tar Sands Blockade’s tree vigil.

Lake Dallas, Texas-born blockader Shannon Bebe, 26, has united with Houston-native and small business owner, Benjamin Franklin, 34, to support rural and neighboring communities who feel abused by TransCanada’s extremely aggressive land grabs and threatened by their toxic pipeline’s diluted bitumen slurry. They are locked together to a backhoe, preventing it from completing a bridge to enable further clear cutting of trees on the path to the tree village, where eight sitters remain in indefinite vigil.

Franklin, whose family traces its lineage to pre-independence Texas, relates, “As someone who has a religious dedication to nonviolence, I have a duty to assist nonviolent tactics. This is a path to change that works. I had a childhood spent in the piney woods of Texas, and they contain a beauty that haunts me, still. Driving up here and then walking amongst the trees and their sitters reminded me of the beauty I experienced in childhood. That in and of itself is reason to be here defending it.”

He continues, “The theft and destruction of people’s homes, the contamination that’s likely to occur once the pipeline is completed, and the release of the carbon bomb that is the Athabascan tar sands formation make the need for action now unignorable.”

John Waller, one of the Blockade members sitting in a tree, adds, “This is just the second day. We’ll be here until TransCanada stops trying to force this toxic pipeline down Texans’ throats. The only reason this pipeline exists is to satisfy the greed of a multi-national corporation that wants to export its product globally. From indigenous people in Canada to folks here in Texas, we’re all being endangered by this dirty, dangerous pipeline.”

The machinery involved, a backhoe, was being used to build a timber bridge across a gully to allow the advancement of feller bunchers for continued clear cutting along the path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Feller bunchers are heavy-treaded hydraulic machinery designed for the cutting, felling, and stacking of as many as 200 trees per hour. They are notoriously dangerous to operate as Tar Sands Blockade witnessed yesterday when blockaders found a feller buncher which had fallen over and almost completely inverted, settling at an extreme angle with its tread at a near 45 degree incline in the sky.

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“The risk of inaction is far greater than the risk of taking action – even risky action like this,” suggests Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “We are committed to undertaking a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to stop construction of Keystone XL. This pipeline is a danger to everyone, and this village is a symbol of all the homes facing this eminent threat to the health and safety of heir families, loved ones, and that of their neighbors. Tar Sands Blockade will continue to protect our Winnsboro tree vigil and our friends and neighbors sitting 80 feet in the sky.”

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]
Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

Eight People Climb Trees And Start Indefinite Tree Sit to Stop TransCanada’s Construction of Keystone XL in Texas

Eight people scale 80 feet in trees to stop TransCanada from trampling landowner rights, endangering waters supplies and the stability of the global climate

WINNSBORO, TEXAS – September 24, 2012, Eightpeople climbed 80 feet into trees in the path of Keystone XL construction, and pledged not to come down until the pipeline is stopped for good. Construction cannot proceed until tree-sitters descend and TransCanada clear-cuts through hundreds of trees to make way for the toxic tar sands pipeline.

The blockade is carefully organized to ensure that everyone sitting in the trees can remain safe as long as TransCanada does not attempt to continue clear-cutting the trees. These ardent advocates of landowner’s rights and climate justice have the safety equipment and food supplies to last indefinitely.

“Today I climbed a tree in the path of Keystone XL to demand TransCanada stop construction of this dirty and dangerous pipeline. This pipeline is a disaster for everyone it touches, from the cancer tar sands extraction is causing indigenous communities, to the water poisoned by inevitable tar sands spills, to the landowners whose land has been seized, and to everyone that will be affected by climate change,” said Mary Washington, one of the Tar Sands Blockade members sitting in a tree.

This blockade is a continuation of an unprecedented summer of actions against fossil fuel infrastructure across America, from Montana to Ohio to New York. As a record heat wave baked the country, Americans stood up in unheard of numbers to oppose fossil fuels that are contributing to climate change.

“Climate change killed half a billion trees in Texas last year–and if TransCanada cuts these down, than the dirty oil they send down the pipeline will trigger yet more out-of-control warming,” said climate activist Bill McKibben, who helped lead huge protests in Washington, DC against the pipeline last fall.

Tar Sands Blockade is a growing alliance of climate justice organizers, Tea Party members and affected landowners using sustained civil disobedience to stop construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The Blockade has already successfully shut down Keystone XL construction for two entire days with daylong actions.

“Today’s bold action by these eight brave people demonstrates their resolve to stop this dirty and dangerous pipeline. They understand the severity of the threat and that taking action is less risky than doing nothing,” said Ron Seifert, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “We are defending our homes, our communities clean drinking water, our land rights, and a stable, livable climate.”

 

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TO VISIT: www.TarSandsBlockade.org

— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

BREAKING: 4 Blockade Keystone XL Pipeline Deforesting Site, Lock to Equipment

3 lock selves to feller bunchers used to clear massive path for Keystone XL Pipeline route

SALTILLO, TEXAS – September 19, 2012, 7:00AM – Three Tar Sands Blockaders have locked themselves to a critical piece of equipment for Keystone XL construction.

Four landowners advocates and climate justice organizers total have risked arrest to halt deforesting work along the Keystone XL Pipeline’s path. The equipment involved, feller bunchers, are used to clear large trees in the massive path of destruction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Texas-born blockaders have united with neighbors from other states to support rural and neighboring communities threatened by the toxic pipeline’s diluted bitumen slurry.

Doug Grant, 65 from Hayward, CA, says, “Having worked for years for Exxon, I know how enticing it is to want to develop the Alberta Tar Sands, but it’s just wrong; wrong for the folks who live near the surface mines and toxic ponds, wrong for the landowners who are coerced under duress into contracts or taken to court to have their homes stolen from them, and just wrong for the climate.” Doug is [doing this].

“As a mother and step-grandmother, I want to be able to tell my children that I did something when the time came,” explains Amarillo-born Dallas, TX resident R.C. Saldaña-Flores, 36. “I’m willing to take risks today to raise awareness of this horrible situation – even if that means being away from my children in jail for a day.”

Kentucky-based solar installation expert and author of the forthcoming book The Pipeline and the Paradigm: Keystone XL and the Rise of Global Consciousness, Sam Avery, 63, suggests that sometime you must create an obstruction in order to facilitate necessary discussion. “I don’t believe it’s too late. We have time,” he shares. “The fact that there is enough carbon in tar sands to initiate some very serious climate destruction and the pipeline will connect that carbon to the air is why I’m here.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“People from all walks of life are banding together to defend their homes in the face of TransCanada’s fraudulent bullying,” suggests Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade. “Their Keystone XL pipeline serves no legitimate public interest, and people are waking up to the fact that this multinational corporation is stealing land and poisoning water supplies illegitimately. For that reason, we defend homes proactively through nonviolent civil disobedience.”

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Media Advisory For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

 

WHAT: Tar Sands Blockade rallies for Rice Farmers in suit against TransCanada over Writ of Possession

WHEN: Wednesday, August 12, 9:30 am

WHERE: Jefferson County Court at Law #1, 2nd floor, 1149 Pearl St., Beaumont, TX 77701

South Texas Rice Farmers Challenge TransCanada’s Right to Claim Common Carrier Status and File a Writ of Possession to Land

Texas Rice Land Partners and other landowners will be before a Jefferson County judge challenging TransCanada’s right to a writ of possession which would allow trenching to begin on land owned by the defendants including the James and David C. Holland and Latta families for the southern segment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The Texas Rice Land Partners case is emblematic of the continuing struggle of Texas landowners being tread upon by a private company taking land for private use, and foreign profit.

The Holland family has between 50 and 60 oil and gas pipelines on their property. The only companies they have ever challenged over eminent domain include Denbury and TransCanada.

Texas courts have long held that property owners could not challenge property takings by pipelines, but a recent, unanimous Texas Supreme Court decision, which highlighted the fight between Texas-based Denbury versus Texas Rice Land Partners changed that equation. In the Denbury Green court case, the justices unanimously ruled that the pipeline company had to prove it was meeting the state’s statutes and served a common good before it should be given the right to “take” private property. Indeed, the case proved that Plano, Texas-based Denbury was shipping carbon dioxide in its pipeline from one private affiliate to another voiding its claim to “common carrier” status under Railroad Commission and Texas Natural Resource Code guidelines. Though the high court has been urged to reconsider this case, the decision has been upheld.

The Texas Railroad Commission approved TransCanada’s permit to operate a pipeline as a common carrier, yet the agency has stated that it doesn’t review the applications for pipelines and doesn’t have the authority to determine common carrier status or give eminent domain permission to TransCanada. TransCanada will need to prove to the court that they meet the legal requirements and are transporting the product for the public good or for public use by complying with all applicable regulations.

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Tar Sands Blockade has met TransCanada where it has already begun trenching its tar sands pipeline south of Paris, Texas and near the City of Livingston in recent weeks.

 

Media Ops: Mr. David Holland will release a public statement regarding his case

Visual of Tar Sands Blockade members rallying to David Hollands demands of TransCanada

An arrested Blockader, speaking on behalf of fellow TransCanada defendant, Julia Trigg Crawford, will be available for statements on her behalf

Interview opportunities with Blockade spokespeople

Visual of supporters at hearing

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MEDIA ADVISORY MEDIA ADVISORY MEDIA ADVISORY

Tar Sands Blockade Hosts Rally, Cookout in Defense of Landowner’s Home, Vineyard
Rally today includes area homeowners affected by Keystone XL Pipeline

Tar Sands Blockade is drawing a line in defense of David Hightower and his muscadine grape vineyard. TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline easement runs not only less than 200ft from Mr. Hightower’s front door, it will completely plow through his vineyard, destroying his home business. Tar Sands Blockade says to TransCanada that they will not plow through Mr. Hightower’s home nor business.

WHO: Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Other area landowners whose property TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will cross will be present in solidarity with Mr. Hightower. They will provide brief public statements. Blockaders and supporters from the region and state will be present as well.

WHAT: Tar Sands Blockade is hosting a rally and cookout on the property of David Hightower to announce an ongoing vigil at his home and business.

WHEN: Friday, September 7, 2012

11AM until 4PM – Rally, refreshments

4PM – Landowner solidarity statements

5PM – Wine & cheese

6PM until 8PM – Cookout

WHERE: ~6 miles north of Winnsboro, Texas on Highway 37.

From Winnsboro, TX: Take N Main St./Highway 37 NORTH out of town. Hightower residence and Keystone XL pipeline easement will be clearly visible to the EAST after approx. 6 miles.

From I-30/Mt. Vernon, TX: Take Highway 37 SOUTH. Hightower residence and Keystone XL pipeline easement will be clearly visible to the WEST after approx. 8 miles.

Parking available along highway shoulder and in parking lot 2 miles from site, shuttling will be provided as needed.

WHY: David Hightower, like many landowners, was coerced under duress and threat of eminent domain lawsuit by TransCanada into ceding the part of his home which includes his home business, a precious muscadine grape vineyard to their dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The Keystone XL easement runs not only less than 200ft from Mr. Hightower’s front door, it will completely plow through his vineyard, destroying his home business. Tar Sands Blockade says to TransCanada that they will not plow through Mr. Hightower’s home nor business.

 

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES:

Visuals: Hightower’s vineyard, home, driveway, and TransCanada’s partly-completed easement driveway are all clearly framable in one photo. Area landowners, blockaders, and area supporters rallying to Hightower’s defense with signs, banners. Multi-generational family-friendly event.

Interview Opportunities: Area landowners in Keystone XL path of destruction, Tar Sands Blockade spokespersons, regional supporters.

 

CONTACT:

TarSandsBlockade.org

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

###

— For immediate release —

Press Contact:

Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Ramsey Sprague, 682-556-0553, [email protected]

BREAKING: 3 Blockaders Locked to Equipment Stop Work at Keystone XL Site

Landowner advocates lock selves to feller buncher machines in KXL easement’s path of destruction

SALTILLO, TEXAS – September 5, 2012, 7AM – Three landowner advocates and climate justice organizers have locked themselves to feller buncher machines used for clearing large trees in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline. Today’s action has halted work on a segment of TransCanada’s illegitimate pipeline. As promised, Tar Sands Blockade’s rolling campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience pushes forward.

Five blockaders total are currently risking arrest to stop work on this segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. Contractors discovered their presence early in the work day, and work at the site was called off shortly thereafter. Texas-born blockaders have united with neighbors from other states to support rural and neighboring communities threatened by the toxic pipeline’s diluted bitumen slurry.

Tar Sands Blockade’s landowner solidarity actions hit home with 22 year old Houston-born blockader, Sarah Reid. “This pipeline affects me, my friends and my family directly. The toxic contents threaten the water we drink, the air we breathe.” Reid, who traces her Texan ancestry back to Obedience Smith, the first female settler to own land in Texas, continues, “Out in East Texas, the landowners I’ve met are honest, hard working people who have been taken advantage of by TransCanada. They’re people who just want to protect themselves and their families.”

The sense that legal means have failed to curb the landowner abuse inherent in the current eminent domain process is palpable. Gary Lynn Stuard, 54, of Dallas is no longer willing to wait for regulatory reform or judicial intervention: “We have exhausted all of the traditional avenues, and it’s not enough. It’s unjust that a multinational company can seize people’s property by proclaiming themselves a “common carrier” – that’s eminent domain abuse. It’s theft, and these peoples’ homes and land shouldn’t be ruined while decisions on what to do are put off.”

Mikey Lowe, 24, traveled from California to raise awareness of the tar sands carrier’s deception. “I feel that eminent domain has really gone too far. I really want to show [the world] what’s going on,” he shared.

Former Quinlan resident, Beverly Luff, 23, is primarily motivated by the threat that tar sands surface mining and extraction pose to the future of a livable climate. “The more people ignore it, the worse it will get. There’s only one planet, and we can’t afford to let dirty business interests cheat to win in East Texas or elsewhere.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Today’s action comes on the heels of last week’s outside of Livingston, TX in which seven blockaders were arrested when four locked themselves to a truck delivering pipe segments to a Keystone XL construction site. Their successful nonviolent action stopped activity in the pipeyard for the day. In response, TransCanada claimed its pipeline was not to carry anything other than “crude oil,” which is untrue.

“TransCanada commits fraud when it lies about the substances in its toxic tar sands slurry pipeline,” explains Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “East Texans have been documenting TransCanada’s deceit for over four years now. Rural and neighboring families have been treated as nothing more than collateral damage by industry, political and regulatory leaders on all sides of the aisle. The truth is TransCanada will do or say anything to ram this pipeline through, regardless of who gets hurt along the way.”

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— For immediate release —

Press Contact: Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

BREAKING: 4 Tar Sands Blockaders Locked to Keystone XL Pipeline Truck in Livingston, TX!

3 arrested, pipe carrying truck stuck at entrance of yard, halting construction on the Keystone XL pipeline

LIVINGSTON, TEXAS – August 28, 2012, 10:00AM **Updated 12:45pm – Just minutes ago four landowner advocates and climate justice organizers locked themselves to the underside of a massive truck carrying 36″ pipe intended for Keystone XL construction. The truck is parked, idled at the entrance of the pipeyard, rendering construction virtually impossible. Today’s message is clear: the people are rising up to defend their homes.

Seven blockaders total are onsite risking arrest. Three have been arrested. Four are locked to the undercarriage of the pipe truck. Police have threatened “pain compliance” through pepper spray if the blockaders do not unlock, but the they are refusing. Blockaders from the Red River valley to the Gulf Coast and beyond have united to realize their collective vision of a world without toxic tar sands pipelines. Today’s message is clear: the people are rising up to defend their homes.

This act of peaceful civil disobedience comes in the wake of a recent court decision condoning TransCanada’s use of eminent domain for private gain. Last week Lamar County Judge Bill Harris ruled in a shockingly abbreviated fifteen-word summary judgment that Texas farmer Julia Trigg Crawford cannot challenge TransCanada’s claim that it is entitled to a piece of her home. The underwhelming ruling was emailed to Ms. Crawford’s attorney late in the evening of August 15 from the Judge’s iPhone.

The arrogant disregard levied at landowners like Julia Trigg Crawford for simply not consenting to have a tar sands pipeline permanently bisect their homes is what motivated Houston businessman Ray Torgerson to take action with the Blockade. “The fact that this corporation can check a box on a form and steal someone’s land is insulting,” Ray says. “We are here to defend our homes and stand with landowners like Julia.”

Further emblematic of the disrespect small town families like the Crawfords have faced throughout Keystone XL legal proceedings, Ms. Crawford received first notice of the ruling from a reporter seeking comment who had been blind carbon copied on the County Judge’s email ruling.

“It was heartbreaking to hear a generational family farm like the Crawford’s can be taken away by a multinational corporation,” exclaims blockader Audrey Steiner, a linguistic anthropologist from Austin. “I’m here to change the direction our country is taking.”

The concerns of the blockaders today go well beyond TransCanada’s appalling contempt for property rights. As Tammie Carson, a lifelong Texan living in Arlington explains, “I’m doing this for my grandchildren. I’m outraged that multinational corporations like TransCanada are wrecking our climate. The planet isn’t theirs to destroy, and I’m willing to take a risk to protect my grandchildren’s future.”

Denny Hook, a retired minister from Gainesville Texas, describes himself as “An environmentalist that happens to be a minister.” In taking action today, Hook hopes to inspire more people to join the movement. “Things are so dire that if all of us don’t rise up we won’t make it. This pipeline is the difference between Earth on the edge and Earth over the edge.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of Keystone XL.

“The blockade is an expression of people who have spent years using every available avenue afforded to them, and nothing has worked,” explains Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “The urgency of this crisis is galvanizing supporters who understand that doing nothing involves a greater risk than taking action.”

###

— For immediate release —

Press Contact: Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

BREAKING: 4 Tar Sands Blockaders Locked to Keystone XL Pipeline Truck in Livingston, TX!

Pipe truck stuck at entrance of yard, stopping construction on the Keystone XL pipeline

LIVINGSTON, TEXAS – August 28, 2012, 10:00AM – Just minutes ago four landowner advocates and climate justice organizers locked themselves to the underside of a massive truck carrying 36″ pipe intended for Keystone XL construction. The truck is parked, idled at the entrance of the pipeyard, rendering construction activity impossible. Seven blockaders total are onsite risking arrest. Blockaders from the Red River valley to the Gulf Coast and beyond have united to realize their collective vision of a world without toxic tar sands pipelines. Today’s message is clear: the people are rising up to defend their homes.

This act of peaceful civil disobedience comes in the wake of a recent court decision condoning TransCanada’s use of eminent domain for private gain. Last week Lamar County Judge Bill Harris ruled in a shockingly abbreviated fifteen-word summary judgment that Texas farmer Julia Trigg Crawford cannot challenge TransCanada’s claim that it is entitled to a piece of her home. The underwhelming ruling was emailed to Ms. Crawford’s attorney late in the evening of August 15 from the Judge’s iPhone.

The arrogant disregard levied at landowners like Julia Trigg Crawford for simply not consenting to have a tar sands pipeline permanently bisect their homes is what motivated Houston businessman Ray Torgerson to take action with the Blockade. “The fact that this corporation can check a box on a form and steal someone’s land is insulting,” Ray says. “We are here to defend our homes and stand with landowners like Julia.”

Further emblematic of the disrespect small town families like the Crawfords have faced throughout Keystone XL legal proceedings, Ms. Crawford received first notice of the ruling from a reporter seeking comment who had been blind carbon copied on the County Judge’s email ruling.

“It was heartbreaking to hear a generational family farm like the Crawford’s can be taken away by a multinational corporation,” exclaims blockader Audrey Steiner, a linguistic anthropologist from Austin. “I’m here to change the direction our country is taking.”

The concerns of the blockaders today go well beyond TransCanada’s appalling contempt for property rights. As Tammie Carson, a lifelong Texan living in Arlington explains, “I’m doing this for my grandchildren. I’m outraged that multinational corporations like TransCanada are wrecking our climate. The planet isn’t theirs to destroy, and I’m willing to take a risk to protect my grandchildren’s future.”

Denny Hook, a retired minister from Gainesville Texas, describes himself as “An environmentalist that happens to be a minister.” In taking action today, Hook hopes to inspire more people to join the movement. “Things are so dire that if all of us don’t rise up we won’t make it. This pipeline is the difference between Earth on the edge and Earth over the edge.”

Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of Keystone XL.

“The blockade is an expression of people who have spent years using every available avenue afforded to them, and nothing has worked,” explains Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “The urgency of this crisis is galvanizing supporters who understand that doing nothing involves a greater risk than taking action.”

###

________________________________________________________

For immediate release

Press Contact: Ron Seifert, 843-814-2796, [email protected]

Tar Sands Blockade Drops Banners to Expose Keystone XL Construction 

Environmental Advocates and Tea Party Supporters Build Unlikely Alliance to Challenge Tar Sands Pipeline and Eminent Domain.

TEXAS & OKLAHOMA – August 16, 2012 --TransCanada recently broke ground on the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline despite more than four years of contention by farmers, ranchers, and local communities in Texas and Oklahoma. The tar sands giant quietly began setting up staging areas for construction, and today, in response, members of the grassroots organization Tar Sands Blockade are launching a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign to stop this dangerous pipeline. The Blockade is working with landowners to prevent the Keystone XL from carving up their homes and permanently scarring thousands of acres of private lands.

In a courageous display of principle, Tar Sands Blockade supporters unfurled banners at pipeline construction sites in East Texas, announcing their intention of taking personal risk to stop TransCanada’s toxic land grab.

“Today, we’re launching our sustained campaign of civil disobedience to stop Keystone XL,” says Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert. “We are proud to support landowners who have had their rights trampled by this multinational corporation.”

Early this morning in East Texas, organizers braved bulldozers to unravel a banner reading: “No Tar Sands In Texas.” These actions were echoed by other blockade supporters in Cushing, Okla., where TransCanada’s recently re-branded “Gulf Coast Segment” begins. Demonstrators stood in stark contrast next to the “Welcome to Cushing” sign–a symbol of the oil industry’s grip over the region.

Events today will also include actions in Dallas and Houston in solidarity with landowners who say TransCanada has bullied and manipulated them through the useofeminentdomain for private gain.

“TransCanada lied to me from day one,” says Susan Scott, a landowner in East Texas whose land has been expropriated. “I worked 37 years for my farm, and TransCanada believes it is entitled to a piece of my home.”

Organizers with the Tar Sands Blockade are taking a stand, demonstrating their commitment to protect the public’s health, safety, and constitutional rights, and to preserve the integrity of the environment that supports local communities across the region.
“In the midst of record heat and drought, this just adds insult to injury,” says 350.org founder Bill McKibben. “More risk, more carbon, more heat–all the things farmers and ranchers don’t need.”

The message is clear across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to environmentalists, we are uniting to resist the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It is truly an abomination that a country I fought in a foreign war for would let a Canadian corporation come in, bully us around, and take land that is a sanctuary to my family, not to mention possibly annihilate us by contaminating our water supply when this pipe leaks,” says Gabriel Cordova, a veteran and lifelong conservative whose home the pipeline would permanently bisect. “We ought to be protecting both our natural resources and our constitutional rights, not Canadian corporations.”

These frontline communities have tried everything to protect themselves, including circulating petitions, testifying at hearings, and meeting with their elected officials. Sadly, these efforts are met with silence from politicians and industry representatives.

“TransCanada is putting families that wanted nothing to do with this pipeline in harm’s way,” says Seifert. “Since our leaders and representatives will do nothing to protect our friends and neighbors, the Tar Sands Blockade is calling for people everywhere to join us and defend our local communities from a multinational bully.”

The Blockade campaign is part of a burgeoning civildisobediencemovement against fossil fuel extraction across the nation. Residents defending against mountaintopremoval coal strip-mining in West Virginia, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and NewYork, as well as coalexportation from Montana are confronting abuse and contamination on the part of dirty energy industries operating in their communities.

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TAR SANDS BLOCKADE SENDS PRESIDENT OBAMA A MESSAGE: NO TAR SANDS, NO KEYSTONE XL GULF COAST SEGMENT IN TEXAS!

www.tarsandsblockage.org

July 17, 2012, Austin, TX

The Tar Sands Blockade is gathering in Austin, Texas today to send President Obama a message: No Tar Sands, No TransCanada Keystone XL Gulf Coast Segment in Texas!  Texans DO NOT want any toxic tar sands pipelines that will pollute our water, air and land and harm our health because when it comes to tar sands pipelines it’s not if it spills it’s when.  Texans do not support the Gulf Coast Segment of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This segment remains key to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands and their delivery to Texas Gulf Coast refineries for processing and refining for export. Without Texas, TransCanada can’t get their tar sands to our refineries and tax free export zone ports. Furthermore, this project meets the demands of the shippers and the refineries and their export market, not the declining U.S public demand for refined petroleum products.

On January 18, 2012 President Obama denied the Presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline but vowed to build a pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Texas refineries. “In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security – including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma. President Obama announced he wanted to expedite the ‘Gulf Coast Project’ earlier this year when he gave his ‘all of the above’ energy address in Cushing, Oklahoma on March 22, 2012.  “Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”

On March 22, 2012, , the President issued a memorandum (EO Executive Order) directing federal agencies to accelerate the approval process for the Cushing pipeline — the Southern arm of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transfer oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf coast — as the top priority of the EONo matter what the President and TransCanada call it – this Zombie Pipeline it is still a tar sands pipeline.

All of this resulted in the Army Corp of Engineers Galveston and Tulsa district offices essentially rubber stamping the Gulf Coast Segment without any environmental  review or opportunity for public intervention.  The Ft. Worth district decision deadline date is August 9, 2012. The permits for the pipeline’s construction are being automatically granted under the blanket Nationwide Permit 12 protocol, or NWP 12. The permits do not need an environmental impact statement to accompany them, according to this process. That very fact alone endangers more than 631 streams and wetlands that the pipeline will cross in our state. Not only that, but the entire Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which supplies drinking water for ten to 12 million homes across 60 counties in East Texas, along the pipeline’s path, is threatened with contamination from a spill. “Texas gets double dipped we get the risks of the pipeline spills and the increase in toxic pollution at the end of market refinery communities. So the Gulf Coast Segment deserves the same meaningful environmental review.  Our action today is giving a new meaning to the motto Don’t Mess with Texas.

We call your attention to the following President Obama quotes that resonated with us shortly after the Presidents Inauguration in 2008:

Change will not come if we wait for another person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.”   February 5, 2008.

“The people of Texas want a big change - we want to undo President Obama’s decision to sacrifice our health and safety by rubber stamping the Gulf Coast segment of the Keystone XL pipeline.  It’s up to us to ensure this pipeline – and all the suffering it is sure to bring – is never built.” commented Ben Kessler , Tar Sands Blockade Member , who is also a member of Rising Tide North Texas and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and terrible storms devastate our lands   Berlin July 2002.

“Tar Sands Blockade Members from throughout Texas have gathered in Austin today because it is up to us to send President Obama a message that we intend to save Texas from the threats and risks tar sands pipelines and refining pose to Texans. Enbridge’s Kalamazoo Line 6B pipeline spilled over 1.1 million gallons of tar sands into Tallmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. This spill harmed water resources and people’s short and long term health due to exposure to benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic substances from the diluted bitumen (tar sands) spill. The spill resulted in the largest fine ever for the US’s largest on shore oil spill. An investigation by the NTSB   concluded that Enbridge ran its control room in Alberta, Canada like “Keystone Kops”. Texans do not want the legacy of a Kalamazoo tar sands spill.  Texans can live without tar sands but they can’t live without clean water, clean air and our health.  The Gulf Coast Segment remains as much a threat to the climate as the cross-border segment of the pipeline coming in from Canada does,” added   Ricardo Correa, Tar Sands Collective Member.

TAR SANDS BLOCKADE SENDS PRESIDENT OBAMA A MESSAGE: NO TAR SANDS, NO KEYSTONE XL GULF COAST SEGMENT IN TEXAS!

Learn more about Tar Sands Blockade at www.tarandsblockade.org

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 25, 2012

Contact: Ron Seifert: 843-814-2796 and at [email protected]

A Call for Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline in Texas from the Tar Sands Blockade 

Texas—This summer, environmental activists from across the country will be converging in Texas to blockade the Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Tar Sands Blockade will be coordinating nonviolent direct actions along the pipeline route to stop the zombie pipeline once and for all. We are working with national allies as well as local communities to coordinate a road show that will travel throughout Texas and Oklahoma as well as a regional training effort for activists interested in getting involved in the blockade movement against the Keystone XL.

“Our action is giving a new meaning to ‘Don’t Mess with Texas,’” says Tar Sands Blockade Collective Member Benjamin Kessler. Kessler is also a member of Rising Tide North Texas and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Tar sands giant TransCanada will be granted permits for construction of the Gulf Coast portion of the pipeline from the Texas Army Corp of Engineers as early as today. President Obama announced he wanted to expedite the ‘Gulf Coast Project’ earlier this year when he gave his ‘all of the above’ energy address in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The Keystone XL remains key to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands, and leading NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen has called the pipeline “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.” According to Hansen, if the carbon stored in the tar sands is released into the atmosphere, it would mean “game over for the climate.”

350.org Founder Bill McKibben has worked hard to get Hansen’s message out to the public and to lawmakers in Washington. After more than 1,200 were arrested during the onset of the Tar Sands Action last fall, and another 12,000 turned out to surround the White House to tell President Obama that the Keystone XL is not in the nation’s best interest. McKibben was elated to hear that the Tar Sands Blockade is continuing to foster the spirit of resistance against the pipeline in the south with the use of nonviolent direct action.

“Let’s be clear what the drama is here: human bodies and spirits up against the unlimited cash and political influence of the fossil fuel industry. We all should be grateful for this peaceful witness,” McKibben said.

Because this is an export pipeline, working Americans will pay the cost of environmental destruction, and never see any of the profits.

“The pipeline will make TransCanada rich while encroaching on ranch land, poisoning Texas’ working class communities, and destroying the environment that makes the Lone Star state so beautiful,” says Tar Sands Blockade Spokesperson Ron Seifurt.

This is not a political issue as much as President Obama and Governor Romney would like it to be in this divisive election year. This is a community issue. Ranchers, landowners, green activists, occupiers and self-identified tea party members are currently working together in common interest to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas.

Tar sands oil threatens streams, water tables, grasslands, forests—all of which families along the pipeline route need to survive. Texas landowners are organizing on their own to stop the pipeline, and we are doing everything we can to help them.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/press/press-releases/