Critics of the Keystone XL pipeline say they’re still optimistic President Barack Obama will block TransCanada Corp.’s planned $5.3 billion link between the oil sands in Alberta and refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Just to be sure, they’re organizing a nationwide civil- disobedience campaign to keep up the pressure should the U.S. State Department recommend Obama approve the project.
Rainforest Action Network, Credo Action and the Other 98% have convinced about 76,000 volunteers to sign a "pledge to resistance." In doing so, Keystone opponents are joining anti- nuclear activists and others who have used sit-ins and other forms of non-violent protest over the years to bring publicity to a cause.
"We believe that whether or not this pipeline is built is in President Obama’s hands and his alone," Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager for advocacy group Credo Action, said. "We will engage in peaceful and dignified sit-ins if necessary to urge him to reject Keystone XL."
The push highlights how the fight over Keystone, now in its sixth year, shows no sign of abating as both sides await the release of a final environmental impact statement from the State Department that will estimate Keystone’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions. After that, the agency, which has jurisdiction because Keystone crosses the border, must determine if the pipeline is in the national interest before Obama’s final decision.
In signing the pledge, activists accept the risk of being arrested in communities along the pipeline’s path, at the State Department, or in offices of companies backing the line.
Zarlin said the group, the lobbying unit of Credo Mobile, a San Francisco-based phone and data service provider that supports progressive causes, hopes that commitment underscores the risks to Obama’s second term-agenda should he decide wrongly in their eyes on Keystone.
TransCanada said this month that it expects the U.S. to decide on Keystone by the end of March.
"I’m personally signed up to get arrested even though it’s been about 30 years since my anti-apartheid days," said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth, an environmental group based in Washington and Berkeley, California.