Taking action while waiting for Keystone.

I hate waiting for news. And this morning, we were waiting on a doozy of an update: A few days after a massive oil spill on the keystone 1 pipeline, the the Nebraska Public Service Commissions (PSC) was to decide whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline route. (See this post if you want to catch up on the spill.) They did, with a really important caveat. And now I’m thinking about what’s next.

But as fortune would have it, I wasn’t stuck home alone, worrying about the vote; Or out at work trying to stay busy while clicking the refresh button on my news feed every few minutes. I was in Pittsburgh at the People Vs Oil & Gas conference, surrounded by pipeline fighters from British Columbia, Canada, South Texas, New York, California and everywhere in between.

So when a couple friends from the local Rising Tide chapter asked me to pitch in (and do what 198 methods does — digital communications support for direct action campaigns), I said yes in a heartbeat; Even if it meant getting up really, really early this morning.

Which is how I ended up holding my cellphone with shivering hands to film, tweet and share a cold, late November morning from Southpointe, PA. I was there to support a brave group of 5 local activists, each of whom had been touched directly by the fracking, coal mining, and extraction industries that have run roughshod over the shale fields and coal fields of that part of western PA, West Virginia, and too many of our communities.

In freezing weather lit by headlamps and watery pre-dawn light they erected two twenty foot tall tripods, dangled themselves from the apex and locked their bodies to the base. All of it to block an entrance to a local office park that is home to some of the biggest, richest and most destructive fossil fuel extraction companies in America. Frackers, Pipeline builders, Injection well profiteers and petro export barons all rub elbows and share office space on the plush Southpointe campus. Heck, even Halliburton rents a suite there.

I think it was a really perfect Counter-pointe to the waiting. While the drillers, frackers and polluters showed up expecting “another day at the often” we did something beutifle, creative, and a little bit crazy to disrupt their morning commute and make it clear #WeWontStop. You can read all about it, and check out my epic, shaky-shivering, 3.5 hour live stream of the whole action, at the Rising tide Facebook page. You can also chip in a few dollars to support the legal defense fund of the two climbers who were arrested here.

And that’s how it needs to be with Keystone XL too. Today’s decision isn’t a defeat — for us or Transcanada, the pipeline builder either. It’s a sort of detente, a “game on” moment that we need to rise to with creativity, love and a powerful spirit of action. You don’t need a giant tripod or a beutifle banner, or even to run out in the street and stop traffic where you live (yet). But you DO need to be willing to speak up and take action when the moment is right. And that’s why we’re encouraging everyone to sign the “promise to protect” today.

Lead by Nebraska landowners and local tribal nations and indigenous leaders, the promise asks you to be ready, to get trained, make a plan, recruit some friends. And when the moment is ripe as a late-July ear of corn, to be ready to take action to protect our country, our communities, and our climate from the Keystone XL pipeline (or whatever else they think of). Will you sign on?

Let’s get to that decision, because it’s a little confusing but here’s the gist:

The Decision is BAD because it’s basically saying the Keystone Xl pipeline can get built, despite all the protests, problems, and last week’s massive oil spill. On the other hand it’s GOOD because the “alternate route” they approved is hundreds of miles longer and needs new and different land to be taken by eminent domain — none of which has been vetted by the EPA and other federal agencies before.That gives us an opportunity to sue, demand more information, and otherwise gum up the works until they do. Because of all that, and the fact that the price of oil has been crashing (undercut by the price of renewable energy, but mostly by cheap fracked gas), a lot of economists and investors think that KXL will simply never be built.

For now, the best thing to do to help is to dig in and get ready to fight this pipeline (and lots more like it) with everything you’ve got. And you can start with the Promise to Protect.

Together, we can stop all of the pipelines, export terminals, compressor stations and more. But only if we promise to take action.

Will you join us?


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