Keystone blockaders outmaneuvered but not defeated
Following news that TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline construction crew had outflanked the tree-sit blockaders, protesters say they’re more resolved to fight on — and not just in the trees.
“We’re escalating in very real ways,” Tar Sands Blockade campaign spokesperson Kim Huynh told me this afternoon. The group’s Jan. 3-8 action camp has 150-200 registered attendees, who will convene in East Texas from across the country for several days of training in community organizing, leadership, and direct action — skills that they’ll then take back to their own hometowns.
“TransCanada and Valero have offices across the country. We’ve identified certain targets,” Huynh said. But: “We’re under no illusions that direct action alone will stop this pipeline. We need a real holistic campaign, and a national, transnational movement.”
The Keystone XL pipeline won’t live or die by one tree-sit, or even a half-dozen tree-sits. But the end of the “flagship” first protest platform is a turning point for this fledgling movement.
TransCanada had previously said the pipeline route was firmly set in stone, but it’s a multinational oil company and those guys aren’t exactly known for their honesty. The blockaders say they won’t be outflanked again, if they can help it.
“I think we are learning lessons all the time. I can assure you we are doing our best to not make the same mistakes,” said Huynh.
The tree-sit blockade is but one part of the East Texas pipeline resistance. Today landowner Michael Bishop and TransCanada were in court again in the matter of TransCanada totally lying to Bishop about the tar-sands oil it would be pumping across his land. The judge suggested both parties prepare arguments for the case to be kicked up to a higher court with jurisdiction over land rights.
“TransCanada may think they can keep delaying while their construction crews destroy my land, but they won’t shake me off so easily,” Bishop said in a statement.
If the case goes forward, the law might end up being a more effective pipeline blockade than protesters chained to construction equipment getting pepper-sprayed in the face (though the latter may be great for the PR war).
The law is really, really not susceptible to being pepper-sprayed in the face.