The Tar Sands Action that’s resulted in over 1,000 arrests in front of the White House for the better part of two weeks will be wrapping up Saturday with what’s expected to be the largest sit-in yet. A rally that’s been separately organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org and Interfaith Power and Light will also be taking place across the street in Lafayette Square Park. All this will be a capstone to what’s been an undeniably historic moment for climate activism, if not American activism in general.
There aren’t many issues that have inspired so many people to take such a bold stand. And as Bill McKibben has pointed out several times, it’s not just the usual suspects. Those risking arrest have included young and old, people from all walks of life and parts of the country—including actress Daryl Hannah and the nation’s top climate scientist James Hansen, who invoked science royalty as part of his reasoning when he told reporters “Einstein said to think and not act is a crime.”
Despite all this, the White House has yet to really comment on the action—even with the press corps pushing for answers, the New York Times running a favorable front page story, Google News giving the action top billing, and Al Gore offering his seal of approval. One has to ask what it will take for the president and his administration to take notice publicly. This silence may be due to the fact that the action is set to wrap up tomorrow. Without the prospect of continued pressure, the Obama administration may think it simply rode out the storm.
If so, that means the ball is still in the organizers’ court. But considering all they’ve managed to pull off, that isn’t a bad thing. It just means that starting Sunday the next phase of action had better begin.