More than 100 protesters stormed the lobby of TransCanada's Keystone XL office in Houston the morning of Jan. 7, dancing, releasing a cascade of black balloons to represent tar sands oil, and hanging neon orange hazard tape. 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 the Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More, Earth First and others. The protest was the first held in Houston to oppose the pipeline project, which follows a campaign of tree-sits to actually block pipeline construction in rural areas of Texas. "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." (Your Houston News, Jan. 7)
A new tree-sit occupation was established Jan. 3 in the town of Diboll, with the support of local land-owners who oppose the pipeline project. 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 that the route was set in stone and could not be altered to avoid bulldozing their cropland.
"Institutional methods of addressing climate change have failed us," said 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." (ENews Park Forest, Jan. 3)
Nuclear-powered tar sands
We wish we were joking. From Daily Yomiuri, Jan. 16:
And they keep squawking about how nuclear power is an “alternative” to fossil fuels. Yet another one to file under “Aw Shut Up Already, Will Ya?”
Obama schmoozes petro-oligarchs
From Huffington Post, Feb. 20:
The next day, Bloomberg notes that the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has upped its estimate for what the tax break enjoyed by oil and gas pipeline companies will cost the US government to $7 billion through 2016, about four times the previous assessment. With the looming “sequester.” Cute, eh?
A post-election tilt to the petro-oligarchs is disappointing but not surprising. We hope that readers have noted the role of golf as a cultural signifier here. Did Obama golf before becoming prez? Or is this like skeet-shooting?
Oil-funded pro-nuke wonk for Energy Secretary
President Obama has chosen Dr. Ernest Moniz, the director of MIT’s Big Oil-sponsored Energy Institute, to head the Energy Department. The Energy Institute is sponsored by the likes of BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco. Moniz is an aggressive advocate of fracking as a “bridge” to low-carbon sources of energy. And what low-carbon sources? In a 2011 essay in Foreign Affairs magazine titled “Why We Still Need Nuclear Power,” Moniz wrote gave a big wet kiss to the industry: “It would be a mistake…to let Fukushima cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits.”
The alarm on this guys is raised by Credo Action and Karl Grossman in Huffington Post, who also reminds us that in his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama said “the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.”
Given that Big Oil put more money on Romney than Obama, we were hoping maybe he would buck the petro-oligarchs in his second term, at least a little. No such luck, it appears.