From Green Right Now Reports
Tar Sands Blockade, the group that’s been fighting the progress of the Keystone XL pipeline through Texas, fanned out across the country on Monday, launching protests in corporate offices of TransCanada, the operator of the tar sands pipeline.
Dozens of protesters gathered in Houston, congregating in the lobby of TransCanada’s Texas offices and shouting about how tar sands oils are toxic to land and the climate and use large amounts of water. They continued the demonstration outside after police escorted them from the lobby.
In the Boston are, Keystone XL opponents, locked themselves together to form an immovable human protest group at TransCanada’s offices. In Portland, Maine, and in Detroit, groups of protesters gathered at TD Bank, a financier of the transcontinental pipeline, to express their displeasure with the project, which they say causes more harm to the environment than even regular oil extraction.
Tar Sands Blockade, which has been protesting the pipeline at various points in East Texas where it’s being constructed and installed, said more than 100 blockaders protested at the TransCanada offices in Houston. They “danced, spilled black ‘tar sands’ balloons and hung neon orange hazard tape to highlight the deadly effects of TransCanada’s corporate greed on communities and ecosystems.”
Protesters included members of the blockade group, known for the occupied treehouse village it built in the path of the pipeline this past fall, as well as members of Idle No More, Earth First and other groups, according to Tar Sands spokespeople.
“It kicks off a new phase of Blockade organizing, targeting the corporate, political and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline with solidarity actions planned across the country this week, including in Austin, Detroit and New York City.”
"From the Texas backwoods to the corporate boardrooms, the fight to defend our homes from toxic tar sands will not be ignored," said Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. "We're here today to directly confront the TransCanada executives who're continuing on with business as usual while making our communities sacrifice zones."
The 1,700 mile pipeline is slated to carry bitumen, or diluted tar sands oil, from mines in Alberta, Canada, to refineries near Houston. The southern leg of the pipeline has been approved, though TransCanada still needs final permitting for the northern portion, which will cross the international border.
Opponents point out that tar sands oil requires fossil fuels to extract (it must be heated) as well as large volumes of water (to sluice it from the earth). Then it is mixed with chemicals to increase its fluidity so it can be transported by pipeline. It all adds up to a process that’s inefficient and takes a high toll on land, forests and the atmosphere (producing more carbon pollution because extraction is so difficult). Protesters have chanted “game over,” invoking the words of climate expert James Hansen, who has argued that tar sands extraction will push the planet into a climate shift that cannot be controlled or reversed.
TransCanada has argued that it has a right to pursue its business and that the oil from the tar sands region will help the U.S. by providing jobs and oil. It also has claimed that forests destroyed by tar sands mining can be restarted.
Opponents counter that the tar sands oil appears to be destined for the world market, via Houston, which would not necessarily help the U.S.. The State Department must permit the final leg of the pipeline for the project to be completed.