In solidarity with the over 10,000 U.S. activists who circled the (real) White House yesterday to oppose construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, UK climate activists circled a model, mini White House outside the U.S. embassy in London.
Of course, the protesters carried banners with quick phrases like “Obama NO!” and “Tar sands is blood oil” on them. The push is to get Obama to reject a proposal to build a climate-unfriendly, 1,600-mile-long pipeline from some of the dirtiest oil reserves in the world — the tar sands (or oil sands) of Alberta, Canada — to the U.S., all the way down to oil refineries at the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Keystone XL pipeline would entrench our reliance on a particularly dirty fossil fuel which is devastating communities,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Suzanne Dhaliwal. “As we speak, First Nations in Alberta are having their way of life destroyed, with forests being clear cut, animals poisoned, and rare cancers now rife in the community. We cannot afford to further expand the tar sands – they are a climate disaster, with the potential to increase the atmospheric carbon concentration by 200 ppm.”
Opposition to the pipeline has been strong and broad. 1,253 people were arrested earlier this year in weeks of protest outside the White House. This was not just young environmentally-minded college kids. This included people from all walks of life, as well as some climate scientists. Yesterday’s protest and circling of the White House was even more broad. Pictures here: Occupy the White House: Tar Sands Activists Encircle White House (PICTURES).
I’ve written about UK climate activists’ lead in creativity and direct action numerous times. I’m a huge fan of their action. So, I was not completely surprised to hear of London activists creating and circling a mini White House yesterday. But it was still a unique, creative idea that surprised me a bit & made me smile.
For more info on why the UK and U.S. activists are protesting the pipeline, here’s a nice quote from the UK Tar Sands Network:
The likely environmental impacts of the pipeline have been vastly downplayed. The US Environmental Protection Agency notes that the project could yield an extra 1.15 billion tons of GHGs, but this has been ignored by the US State Department’s own Environmental Impact Statement. Transcanada’s other pipelines have been leaking on average at one spill per month. A rupture in the Keystone XL pipeline could cause a BP-style oil spill – devastating the entire area, and contaminating the source of fresh drinking water for 2 million people.
That’s the deal in a nutshell. I’ve also included discussion of these matters and links to further reading here: Over 10,000 Protesters Circle White House — Why?
“We are standing in solidarity today with the Lakota Nations in the US who oppose this pipe going through pristine water sources,” Dhaliwal said. “President Obama recently signed onto the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous People’s. He cannot uphold that commitment by approving this pipeline.”
The UK activists are also worried about tar sands oil making its way to Europe. Lobbyists have been pushing that for awhile and it’s still unclear as to which way the government is going to go.
All images via UK Tar Sands Network