Battle to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline Comes to New England


Youth Climate Activists Arrested for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience at TransCanada Office in Massachusetts

Westborough, MA- Eight youth climate activists staged a sit-in today at the TransCanada Corporation’s office in Westborough, MA to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The students locked themselves to one another in opposition to a corporation whose business plan promises to “lock us into climate disaster.”

The youth activists who organized the sit-in are current students or graduates of several New England universities including Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and the University of New Hampshire. The group, ranging in age from 20-22, locked down with chains, locks and superglue in the Westborough office in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. They describe themselves online as the “representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced [into civil disobedience] by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as TransCanada.”

The Westborough sit-in is part of a nationwide week of action against Keystone XL, including a large scale action today in Houston. The week was coordinated by activists from the Texas-based Tar Sands Blockade, a group that has been staging direct action for five months to prevent construction of the southern leg of the pipeline. The fight to stop Keystone XL first entered the national spotlight with a mass civil disobedience protest in August 2011, the largest of its kind in decades, coordinated by Tar sands oil has also become a flashpoint for the Canadian climate movement, where First Nations communities, politicians, and citizens have united to block the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil to the coast of British Columbia for export.

This week’s protests also foreshadow a cascade of actions planned against the tar sands for early 2013. A coalition of activists known as Tar Sands Free Northeast are preparing for actions on January 23rd and 26th to block a plan to transport tar sands oil through New England. Canadian activists with the Idle No More movement have protested the Keystone XL pipeline while has announced a 20,000 person rally against KXL to be held on February 17th at the White House.

“The scientific and economic arguments against the Keystone XL pipeline are clear,” said Emily Edgerly, a sophomore studying at Tufts University. “The International Energy Agency reported in 2011 that constructing new fossil fuel infrastructure is locking us into irreversible global warming, which will have devastating impacts on our economy and our lives. We urgently need to be putting our society’s resources into building infrastructure that supports safe and renewable energy sources. We hope our peaceful civil disobedience today will add momentum to the increasingly powerful global movement to solve the climate crisis.”

“The activities of corporations like TransCanada threaten the future of my entire generation,” said Benjamin Trolio, a senior studying at the University of New Hampshire. “We need our political leaders to do their job by standing up for us and taking action to solve the climate crisis. They can start by drawing a clear line in the sand and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The Keystone XL pipeline is an export pipeline proposed by TransCanada to carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta across the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline has been the subject of intense national controversy since its proposal in 2008. It has been widely protested for the risks it poses to the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water for 2 million people, as well as for its potential to dramatically worsen global warming by facilitating the extraction and burning of the tar sands.

CASEJ’s blog has several more articles about the Westborough activists.