Right now in Texas, a foreign corporation, TransCanada, is using our government’s 5th Amendment right of eminent domain to confiscate private land belonging to Americans, to build a massive oil pipeline so TransCanada can ship oil from the Gulf of Mexico to non-Americans around the world. Oil, by the way, that will accelerate our planet’s plunge into global warming-induced catastrophe. So the question is, “Why?
On Tuesday, peaceful protesters blocking Keystone XL pipeline construction equipment in Texas were brutalized by police at the request and encouragement of TransCanada officials.1
The two protesters, who had handcuffed themselves together on TransCanada’s construction equipment, were subjected to choke holds, stress positions in which their free arms were handcuffed, contorted, and then pepper sprayed, burning their skin. They were then tased — one of the activists was tased twice.
There is no excuse for subjecting peaceful, defenseless protesters to this level of violence.
Reports indicate these tactics were carried out at the request direct of the TransCanada officials on the scene, who later congratulated police on a “job well done.”2
Police had been peaceful toward the protesters before TransCanada officials arrived. Then TransCanada officials encouraged police to “run off” the activists who were observing the protest. Once the cameras were out of sight, the unnecessary brutality was used until the pain became too much for the protesters.
Law enforcement officers are also known as peace officers. Their job is to protect the peace and serve the public, not corporations. Nonviolent civil disobedience has played a key role in winning social change in the U.S. In Texas, peaceful protesters are putting their bodies on the line to literally block TransCanada’s machinery because they see this as a key battle in our fight against climate change.
It is the job of the police to arrest these protesters and, in the absence of violent resistance, to do so without violence or brutality. If this slows down the work of TransCanada, so be it.
TransCanada has a history of lying to, bullying and strong-arming landowners. Now it is bringing violence upon peaceful protesters. If citizens are so moved to right a wrong that they will line up to be arrested in front of TransCanada’s machines, then TransCanada will have to wait while police safely and humanely arrest them.
We cannot let TransCanada’s brutality intimidate protesters into standing down, we cannot allow our public safety officers be commandeered as violent tools of a foreign oil company. And we will not let TransCanada jam its apocalyptic pipeline down our throats without due process of law.
The courageous protesters are taking action because they see the risk of doing nothing in the face of the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline as greater than the risk of personal harm as a result of their protest and arrest. They are playing an essential role to slow construction right now, and we need to do what we can to stand with them, and pressure TransCanada to ensure that peaceful protesters are treated safely, not with completely undue brutality.
Click below to automatically sign the petition to stand with the tar sands blockaders in Texas:
Thanks for fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
- “TransCanada Actively Encouraged Torture Tactics to be Used on Peaceful Protesters,” Tar Sands Blockade, 9/25/12
- “TransCanada Urges Texas Police to Use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders,” Fire Dog Lake, 9/26/12
Yesterday, the White House applauded news that TransCanada would go forward with building the southern leg of Keystone XL, promising to help expedite the permits necessary to complete the pipeline’s route from Cushing, Okla. to the refineries and shipping ports of Port Arthur, Texas.
Breaking up the pipeline in this way is quite simply TransCanada’s latest end run around the State Department’s formal review process, which is required for any pipeline that crosses an international border. It will also make it easier for the company to trample property rights and immediately seize Americans’ land by eminent domain.
President Obama’s support for the southern leg isn’t a surprise — he specifically mentioned this project as he was rejecting the full pipeline last month based on insufficient time to conduct a thorough review.
But it is deeply disappointing that, just a month later, he would signal a willingness to backtrack on even that minimal condition, saying he would “take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”
The southern portion of Keystone XL carries the same risks of oil spills on American water and soil, and brings the tar sands carbon bomb one big step closer to being unleashed across the world. President Obama must insure that the Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers do not cut any corners in evaluating this project, and consider it’s full impacts on the climate.
Tell President Obama: Don’t expedite approval of the southern leg of Keystone XL or cut any corners to force this project through.
While the southern portion of Keystone XL does not turn up the spigot of tar sands bitumen that can be transported out of Alberta, Canada, it does ultimately accomplish the biggest goal of Keystone XL — to bring the landlocked tar sands to shipping ports and the global market so it can be burned across the globe, leading to disastrous climate impacts.
This should be enough for the President to publicly reject this project. Instead he’s not only applauding it, he wants to “expedite” it.
Instead of criticizing TransCanada’s bullying as it runs rough shod over the private property rights of Americans, President Obama is now acting to enable TransCanada’s ability to seize land via eminent domain.
President Obama can’t keep trying to have it both ways. He can’t claim to want to move our nation away from fossil fuels and fight climate change while he paves the way for the dirtiest oil on earth to be shipped and burned across the globe. He can’t try to appeal to environmental voters by rejecting this pipeline on an insufficient evaluation, and then turn around and allow the pipeline developer to circumvent the approval process, even accelerating the minimal process that remains.
Tell President Obama: Don’t expedite approval of Keystone XL or cut any corners to force this project through.
We knew this project would be back, and we meant it when we said we’d fight it everywhere, every step of the way.
There will be many local and national opportunities in the upcoming approval fight — but for now the least President Obama can do is maintain even the minimal commitment he made to us when he rejected Keystone XL just a few weeks ago.