This is the news the climate movement has been waiting for: President Obama has rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. These are the words they’ve been waiting for him to speak: “We’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.”
As a publication covering this movement, we’ve been waiting right alongside them.
Waging Nonviolence began its Keystone XL coverage with a blog post in August 2011, asking, “Can two weeks of mass action in DC stop the tar sands pipeline?” It was an honest question, harboring some (now laughable, in hindsight) doubts that the police would play their part in the planned acts of civil disobedience. Days later, however, we found out first-hand just how serious this wave of resistance was going to become, as two of our editors got arrested on the first day of what would become an historic two weeks of sit-ins outside the White House.
Nevertheless, today’s announcement doesn’t provide a clear answer to the question posed in that very first blog post. On the one hand, the answer is “no.” Those two weeks did not stop the pipeline — not on their own. After all, it’s taken over four years to reach today’s decision. On the other hand, those two weeks sparked or shined light upon everything else that did (cumulatively) stop the pipeline — from the First Nations resistance that came before it to the ongoing frontline community struggles against all forms of extreme energy to the moments when everyone came together (like with last year’s People’s Climate March) to show the true size and force of this movement for the planet and it’s people.
For a site like Waging Nonviolence, which seeks to show the inner workings of movements and how they build power, today’s victory is more than an opportunity to celebrate, it’s an opportunity to reflect upon the work that changes our world. So, we invite you to do that. You can view all our Keystone XL resistance coverage here — at the Sans Tar Sands series page. Or, for a curated list of our favorite pieces just keep reading. The more we understand how to succeed, the more opportunities there will be for celebration.
Protesters encircle White House, close in on tar sands industry | November 7, 2011
“We don’t know how many people it takes to encircle the White House, but we’re about to find out,” Bill McKibben told a crowd of over 12,000. It ended up taking far less, as the lines forming the circle were four deep.
Don’t mess with Texas’ Tar Sands Blockade | August 15, 2012
One year after more than 1,200 people were arrested in front of the White House protesting the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, a coalition of Texas landowners and activists will attempt to physically halt its construction.
Opposition mounts as first tar sands mine in US gets a green light | September 7, 2012
A new front against tar sands mining has opened and this time it’s not in Canada, but in Utah.
Communities of resistance know no borders in fight against tar sands | January 18, 2013
Tar Sands Blockaders and anarchist community organizers have been cultivating a growing resistance campaign in the Houston neighborhood of Manchester.
In historic turn, Sierra Club gets arrested for the climate | February 13, 2013
The nation’s largest and oldest environmental organization follows up on its pledge to engage in civil disobedience for the first time in its 120-year history.
Is Bill McKibben’s math finally adding up? | February 18, 2012
Had Bill McKibben and 350.org not put so much effort into creating the perception of a powerful movement, they might never have built one.
The climate movement’s pipeline preoccupation | April 8, 2013
Before the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns come to an end, we all must recognize the dangers of having a single-issue approach to movement building.
Want strong actions? Build strong action groups | February 26, 2013
Climate justice needs radical demands and backed up with mass nonviolent direct action. The question, though, is: How do we get to that point?
I pledge allegiance, to resist the pipeline | March 12, 2013
Are Bill McKibben and his allies ready to unleash a nonviolent guerrilla war on the model of the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas?
Indigenous resistance grows strong in Keystone XL battle | May 8, 2013
For as much as the Keystone XL pipeline threatens indigenous communities, it has also connected them for a massive stand of resistance.
Looking to lessons learned for the upcoming Keystone XL battle | February 6, 2014
While grassroots efforts to halt construction of the Keystone XL’s southern portion were not successful, many activists believe the lessons learned through that experience will be useful in the upcoming battle over the pipeline’s northern section.
When Cowboys and Indians unite — Inside the unlikely alliance that is remaking the climate movement | May 2, 2014
One native prophecy speaks of a black snake that — much like the Keystone XL — will bring great destruction. Another speaks of different peoples uniting to defend the land. Now, it too is becoming a reality, thanks to indigenous-led organizing.
#NoTarSands resistance march draws thousands in Midwest | June 7, 2015
Frontline indigenous communities took center stage in the largest anti-tar sands demonstration in Midwest history.
As K-pop fans and Black organizers and artists are demonstrating, joyful, powerful movements draw more people in and reflect the kind of world we want to live in.
If soldiers train for armed combat, why wouldn’t activists train for toppling the political-economic structure that’s killing our chance for a just future? The stakes are just as high.
Uganda’s COVID-19 experience underscores the seemingly universal opportunism of authoritarians amidst crisis, as well as opportunities for resistance.