Keystone XL: Liberal activists plan civil disobedience outside White House

Department of State Map

By Ryan Maue.

Free publicity:

Bill McKibben’s Call to Action:  “I want to tell you about an upcoming action — it looks set to turn into the biggest civil disobedience protest in the history of the North American climate movement. It will take place at the White House from August 20-Sept. 3, and we need your help spreading the word. But I want to explain the reasoning behind it in some detail, because for me it helps illustrate how some of the debate about Obama is unproductive.”

President Obama has recently been criticized by former VP Al Gore in his rambling Rolling Stone article.  But apparently that’s been “unproductive” and some damage control is in order.  McKibben has the perfect solution in order to lobby the President to kill the Keystone Pipeline:  “We asked people who had Obama buttons in their closets to bring them and wear them — many of us still remember the shivers that ran down our spines when he said, on the eve of his nomination, that with his election “the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.

The opposition to the Keystone Pipeline is not terribly difficult to figure out.  But McKibben deftly summarizes the ultimate stakes that liberal environmentalists face:

But there’s a bigger problem here too. Those Alberta tar sands are the biggest carbon bomb on the continent — indeed, on the whole planet, only Saudi Arabia’s oil deposits are bigger…if you could burn all that oil at once, you’d add 200 parts per million co2 to the atmosphere, and send the planet’s temperature skyrocketing upwards. Any serious exploitation of the tar sands, says Hansen, means it’s “essentially game over” for the climate. So, high stakes. And don’t think that the Canadians will automatically find some other route to send their oil out to, say, China. Native tribes are doing a great job of blocking a proposed pipe to the Pacific; Alberta’s energy minister said recently that he stays up nights worrying that without Keystone his province will be ‘landlocked in bitumen.’ Without the pipeline, said the business pages of Canada’s biggest paper, Alberta oil faces a ‘choke point.’

So, the Call to Action is summarized on a website, where you can go to sign up to join the effort:  Tar Sands Action

Get your best business attire, your Obama buttons, and get ready to join Danny Glover, Naomi Klein, and NASA scientist James Hansen at the White House, and help Obama “get his environmental mojo back!”


From a political point of view, with gas prices soaring and the President in complete reelection/campaign mode, blocking the pipeline would be a huge political gift to any GOP nominee.


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What’s McKibben’s problem? The rise of the oceans has not only slowed, it has stopped.

Robert Christopher

“if you could burn all that oil at once ….” How would we do that? We cannot!
“… , you’d add 200 parts per million co2 to the atmosphere …” So the scenario is fiction.
” … , and send the planet’s temperature skyrocketing upwards.” … and plants would grow faster, for at least a few years .. and then the temperature would gradually fall.
Has anyone calculated what the affect would be if it was burnt, in situ?
How long would it take?
Would oxygen depletion be a problem?
How long is “at once”? Is it less than a day?
How long would the area be in production, if exploited as expected? Decades, I would expect.
It’s a new idea for a sci-fi film.

John Marshall

If blocking this vital pipeline gets America free of President Obama and his wacky ideas about climate and CO2 then go ahead but I do not like playing into the arms of Hansen, and his wacky ideas, seems wrong as well.
Pay the native Canadians more for the route of the pipeline. Money talks and they also drive cars and trucks so need the fuel.


Tell you what… when I heard that 0bama had said that, a shiver ran down my spine, too… but undoubtedly for a different reason. I was well and truly terrified that an absolute MORON was about to become the President. I have seen nothing to change that assessment. Nothing. The only good thing is that his incompetence has reduced that amount of damage he could do.
As a resident of Alberta, and someone employed in a secondary oil-related industry (NDT, which for Alberta means a lot of oil industry work like pipelines), I see what is happening. Tens of thousands of people are literally in limbo, waiting to hear what is going to happen. Jobs are scarce where they should be plentiful. And don’t believe Hansen’s ridiculous wet dream about natives blocking a pipeline to the coast. If that’s in our interest, it WILL happen. Our Prime Minister is an Alberta man.
China will buy our oil, and not all of the insane ranting (er, demonstrating) or stupid antics or greenpeace watermelon signs hanging from our tallest buildings will stop us from selling it to them. This is an industry, not a stupid little game like windmills or solar panels. Billions of people owe their way of life, or their life itself, to the product we pump out of the ground, or dig out with giant earthmovers, or frac out of the rocks themselves.
“Climate Movement”. Yeah, hansen, keep it up. You’re your own worst enemy. You have just confirmed that it’s political. Science doesn’t have “movements”, but politics does. Nothing says ignorance (and anti-science) like trying to block the supply of energy.


“[…] many of us still remember the shivers that ran down our spines when he said, on the eve of his nomination, that with his election “the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.“
(re: the bolded)
Some people put w-a-a-y too much faith in politicians…
(re: the italicized)
… but in this case, the oceans’ rise has slowed, so we can all move on now. Mission accomplished and we don’t have to spend another nickel on it.

So, what amounts to a 50% rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration will now
send the planet’s temperature skyrocketing upwards.
What is this magical figure the temperature rocket might reach? We can’t even find agreement on what a doubling of CO2 will mean, if anything let alone what half of this will. I think a 50% rise might well be quite pleasant for both the plants and people like myself who endure 300 days a year of cold and rain.


It’s funny to watch somebody thinking China will have nothing to burn if they don’t let them use America oil.
I think they’ll be happy if America saves that oil because it’ll be there ready for them to use aftrer they buy America.

A few months ago McKibben was in Vancouver holding a protest about bringing oil to the coast. I saw it on the news. There was a large group of people with him. I counted about 6 people. Maybe the camera wasn’t setup for a wide angle shot.


I don’t understand this article . WUWT is for or against the pipeline. I myself am in favor of the pipeline.
Clean Tech Sector Heading for a Major Crash

@ Iggsy 0132July12. I take that a cessation in the rise of the Ocean concurrent with the election of POTUS is proof that correlation is not confirmation?

Brian Johnson uk

All those protesters, all that unnecessary so called “Carbon Footprinting”. Utter waste of time and money and electricity/gas etc. Stay at home and chill out.
200 extra parts per million CO2 by destroying all oil/tar sand deposits will do diddley squat to the climate, it will however make trees/vegetation grow faster and if the biofuel scam is stopped there will be food for this planet and other ones as well. Build more efficient petrol engines and scrap silly electric toy cars and wind farms and develop Thorium based Nuclear Power plants and we can survive the heat/cold that this planet throws our way. Oil reserves will last for ages if controlled and Arnie sells his Hummer! Nothing so far has exceeded previous centuries extreme [and natural] weather events. 24 hour breaking news and Green Hysteria needs unplugging and soon.


Financial Post: U.S. foundations against the oil sands
The Tides Foundation has spent $6-million to fund green lobbies
By Vivian Krause
14 oct 2010, updated 27 Jan 2011
Like most protests, the one against oil tankers has all the look and feel of a Canadian grassroots movement. The campaign against Alberta’s oil sands also seems to rise out of the people, but the interesting thing is that there are very few roots under that grass. Money comes in from a small core of U.S. charitable groups. One of those groups — the U.S. Tides Foundation of California (Tides U.S.) and its Canadian counterpart have paid millions to at least 36 campaign organizations. (See list below.)…


Don’t expect rational thought, activism and protest is like a drug to these people.


Examine McKibben’s claim that burning all the oil sands would add 200 ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere… (And leaving aside how many years it would take to access all of that, plus the fact that it would displace other energy sources to a certain extent, not just add to them.)
Canada’s oil reserves are 175 billion barrels. Source: EIA
One barrel is 42 gallons. Just to bound the problem, assume that each gallon of oil is refined to one gallon of gasoline. [It isn’t, of course, this will overestimate emissions.] Burning one gallon of gasoline creates about 9 kg CO2.
This means the entirety of Canadian reserves, if combusted, would create a maximum of around 76 Gt of CO2. [One gigatonne = 10^9 tonnes = 10^12 kg.]
I’ll want to compare to IPCC figures which are in terms of the mass of carbon, not carbon dioxide, so let’s compute the mass of carbon in 76 Pg of CO2 as 12/44*76 GtCO2 = 20 GtC.
IPCC’s AR4 WG1, figure 7.3 (the global carbon cycle, ) shows approximate atmospheric content of 760 GtC; as that is equivalent to around 380 ppmV CO2 (neglecting non-CO2 compounds), each 2 GtC represents about 1 ppmV of CO2.
Bottom line: burning *all* of Canada’s oil reserves, not just tar sands, would produce about 20 GtC in emissions, increasing atmospheric pCO2 by about 10 ppm. Doesn’t seem to match McKibben’s 200 ppm.


Ref. Coldfinger
It’s a Religion. It’s real, scientific, 150% RELIGION! They know that if they don’t stop this or that or whatever that they’re going to Hell. I find it very interesting. Most are against any formal, established faith except their own. And many are athieists, too. Shame so many of their tracts and bibles are in our public schools. Understand Pope Gore I is appointing bishops by the busload these days and selling indulgences as fast as he can print them.

charles nelson

Dear Moderator,
I’ve just seen an advert for
This is a new development in the carbon tax media campaign.
The by line is something slushy about women caring enough to
save the planet from climate change. I kid you not.
Clever move.
Do you think we skeptics could get the ladies on our side?

Ken Harvey

…if you could burn all that oil at once,
Gee. Where do I apply for an admission ticket?


These people have never heard of rail for transporting oil? Sure, a pipeline would probably be the least expensive option, but rail lines already exist that head east, south, and west. Use all three; certainly the success of this project doesn’t hing on constructing a pipeline, does it?


Slowing the sea level rise .. well there’s at least one promise kept.

McKibben is just plain wrong about “Native tribes are doing a great job of blocking a proposed pipe to the Pacific”.
Aboriginals tap into oil sands
“… economic development corporations will help the combined income of Aboriginal households, businesses and governments reach $24-billion in 2011, and ballooning to $32-billion in 2016. “

Will Jon Henson have the moral fiber to take a leave of absence from work and stop drawing a taxpayer paycheck? Probably not. The enlightened, like him, can live rich and fat at our expense. The rules for the enlightened are different.

… many of us still remember the shivers that ran down our spines when he said, on the eve of his nomination, that with his election “the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.”

Hmm, I remember the shiver when he promised greatly higher electricty prices. My wallet remembers the soaring gasoline prices that came with his election.

Dave L.

Climate is just a smokescreen for the protest. The ultimate goal is world socialism and redistribution of wealth.

Alexander K

Reading this nonsense made me feel as if I had wandered onto the set for a silly anti-science but scary movie… What planet does McKibben inhabit?

RobertvdL says:
July 12, 2011 at 2:27 am

I don’t understand this article. WUWT is for or against the pipeline. I myself am in favor of the pipeline.

It’s just a sign that Anthony and his other authors are in favor of discussing nearly all aspects of the climate debate. As long as McKibben stays away from linking chemtrails to climate disruption, he’ll remain a good chuckle or two here.
I don’t understand why you addressed your comment to Anthony, the post is by Ryan Maue and it looks like he just copied a press release or flyer. Or a Huffington Post web page. The “Posted on” byline simply records who made the post, they aren’t screened by Anthony.
Nor do I understand the flyer’s “It will take place at the White House.” If I go, can I get the Lincoln bedroom or does McKibben have first dibs on that?

Sheer stupidity … amazing


@pat: I found this bit most interesting: “U.S. tax returns and public records show that Tides U.S. and charities based in California and New York have granted US$15-million since 2003 specifically for campaigns against Alberta oil and against oil tanker traffic and pipelines through British Columbia.”
Now imagine offshore foundations backed by foreign money would spend $15 million in the US to campaign for the construction of the pipeline. That would get close to a casus belli.

Is this paid form by the EPA?

Midwest Mark

Coldfinger is exactly right–activism and protest is a necessity–a way of life–for these folks. If all fossil fuels were banned…if carbon was finally declared illegal…they would find a new agenda; a new idol to worship.

Fred from Canuckistan

9.2% Unemployment. Check.
$1.5 Trillion deficit and getting bigger. Check.
No end in site to out of control Congressional spending. Check.
A nation and economy following Greece & Italy down the financial garden path. Check.
An opportunity to create jobs, wealth and secure a very secure energy source from a friendly allied nation. Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . . we don’t wanna do that.
Time for Barry to urinate, flatulate or get off his throne.

David L. Hagen

Robert Hirsch shows the rapidly impending decline of LIGHT oil will directly cause very severe economic depression until alternatives can be brought on line. See videos: Oil decline vs Climate Change Robert L. Hirsch Pt 01 , The Canadian Oil Sands with Robert L. Hirsch Pt 21 etc.
GDP is tightly connected to Oil supply growth.
Hirsch warns of impending Oil & GDP decline
Stopping or slowing the Keystone XL pipeline will directly:
INCREASE US fuel costs
INCREASE US fuel shortages
INCREASE US Unemployment
INCREASE Debt & Interest
DAMAGE the US & World Economy
Oil sands is much better than “having nothing”!
The Impending World Energy Mess. ASPO 2011 Presentation pdf, Video
We are already more than 20 years too late to avoid serious economic depression – for lack of preparation – by focusing on the chimera of “climate change” aka “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”. See the “Hirsch Report” DOE 2005.
Lloyds of London and the US DOD have warned that we will likely experience global fuel shortages in 2012-2015 time frame.
Sustainable Energy Security Lloyds 360, 2010
The JOE 2010, US Joint Operating Environment, DOD
See other videos on: Robert Hirsch Oil


But how are they going to get to the White House?


A Canuck here.
I actually hope they block the pipeline and ban the purchase of ‘dirty oil’ by the US.
That way, we’ll build a pipeline westward and sell all the oil we can make to the Chinese.


If this irresponsible and selfish action causes the US people to take a different look at environmentalists, and therefore makes it easier to amend the Clean Air Act, bring it on!

David L. Hagen

Correction: News of JOE 2010, The JOE 2010 pdf
Due to rising domestic consumption in exporting countries,
Brown & Foucher & Silveus warn that available Global Net Oil Exports will decline much faster than oil depletion. The rapid change from rising consumption to declining available oil exports will hit oil importing countries the hardest, especially the USA and Europe. See Peak Oil Versus Peak Net Exports–Which Should We Be More Concerned About? ASPO 2010
IEA warns that crude oil peaked in 2006 and it projects NO increase in crude oil in the future.
Global Net Oil Exports Peaked in 2005!
Global Net Oil Exports Less Chindia’s Combined Net Oil Imports = ANE

(BP + Minor EIA data, mbpd) :
2002: 39 – 3.5* = 35.5 (ANE)

2003: 42 – 4.0 = 37.4

2004: 45 – 5.1 = 39.9

2005: 46 – 5.2 = 40.8 

2006: 46 – 5.5 = 40.5

2007: 45 – 6.1 = 38.9

2008: 45 – 6.6 = 38.4

2009: 43 – 7.3 = 35.7
2010: 44 – 8 = 36**
*Chindia’s combined net oil imports **Estimated

That likely triggered/amplified the 2008 economic crisis.
Global net exports are already down 12% in 5 years!

chris y

In June, 2008, Mr. Obama proclaimed- “…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…”
Since taking office, the President can already claim that he has single-handedly made dramatic impacts on climate-relevant trends:
-Sea level rise has decelerated.
-Ocean heat content has not increased.
-Global surface temperatures have come back down after tamping back President Bush’s temperature increases in the pipeline.
-Arctic sea ice anomalies have stabilized.
-The last 2 winters in the US have been gloriously cool.
-There have been no hurricane landfalls in the US.
-Global ACE remains near its lowest level since the 1970’s.
-The winter northern hemisphere snow cover extent has increased dramatically.
-Lake Powell water levels have risen dramatically.
Yet McKibben insists on carbon pollution policies that have nothing to do with pollution and will have no impact on climate.
I am starting to suspect that McKibben and Hansen are reality deniers, paid by BIG GREEN to deliberately ignore the observational data of a healing climate that has been delivered by our Dear Leader…


“Shivers down spines”? Poor people (I feel sorry for them), but it looks like Keystone will be a needed USA jobs program at 13 Billion, and good for TX economy esp., as well as reducing fuel costs (or at least, slow the inflation of), which are very hard on rural poor. As for the import of tar-sands and CO2 endgame, did they notice the recent Russian announcement of troop deployment (2 brigades) in the (claimed) Arctic, with respect to oil/gas rights-that is a similar scale field that seems to have flown under the radar.

Bruce Cobb

“it looks set to turn into the biggest civil disobedience protest in the history of the North American climate movement.”
August 20-Sept. 3, of course, is when they can count on plenty of useful idiots college students. I guess he hopes that by hyping it as such, there will be a bandwagon effect. Oh yeah, “business attire”. That is rich. As if they have any.
This will put Obama in an uncomfortable lose/lose position. Should be fun.


Start a counter protest saying these people want you to pay $10 a gallon in gas, and that this is to stop you from being available to buy cheap fuel in the future.

Nick in Vancouver

Err kind of closing the door after the horse (electric car???) has bolted. Canada already has a pipe-line to the Pacific terminating in Vancouver. The option to build another one to Prince Rupert is mainly for convenience. Its (marginaly) closer to the tar sands and is a deep water port so is much safer to bring tankers in. Oh well guess the enviros don’t care about issues like safety and efficiency. If China doesn’t get it from us it will get it from – yep – any dodgy autocratic, kleptocratic government it can. I wonder how much of the junk in Mr. McKibbens’ garage was made in China? I wonder if he sees the irony in the fact that the West, and the US consumer in particular, payed for the construction of the manufacturing power-house that is now China. If he thinks that stopping one pipe-line will do anything but increase the cost of fuel to his own people he is in denial (oops I said the d-word). So far France, Korea, Norway, the UK, the USA and China have all bought a piece of the black, sticky Alberta pie. Who is the biggest foreign investor in the tar sands?, its not the US.


I’ve thought of a little civil disobedience myself: how about a few hundred people sneak CFLs into Congress and break them on the floor? The subsequent EPA panic and mercury cleanup would bring to light the absolute stupidity of forcing those things into American households. Heck, just breaking them on the sidewalk outside of the White House would be close enough to make the point.


Like CodeTech stated above, I too am an Alberta resident and worked at the Oil Sands quite a few years ago(in the pay of big oil!!), and the oil will get to the West Coast…If the natives block it going to Prince Rupert, they will head the pipeline down to Vancouver, so if the natives are smart (and they are!) they will broker a deal.
Another spin off of this too, will be if we have China then buying up the oil, we will not be tied to the price (West Texas Int. Crude price)…


I recently read this comment in a local blog:
“The 2009 (published in 2010) study that showed 97+% agreement on human-caused climate change being a serious problem was a survey of thousands of papers written by the hundreds of scientists who had published 20 or more peer-reviewed papers on climate science. They included every scientist who had published 20+ papers on climate science. Those are the real experts. Every one of those papers included real science — the testing of hypotheses with real, hard evidence and original research. The consensus is scientific; the controversy is political.”
Can anyone point me to a credible study refuting this “concensus”?

C.M. Carmichael

Alberta has oil sand, not tar sand. If this is not understood, the situation is not understood.

G. Karst

The Canadian/Albertan tar sands paradigm presently doesn’t make logical sense, when using natural gas for the heat/steam generation. This must be upgraded to nuclear power, which is the configuration that makes more ANY sense. Using vast quantities of natural gas is akin to a snake eating its own tail. When will we ever learn? GK

Tom T

Of all the loons in the loony bin this guy is by far the looniest.
From the article “know that above 350 parts per million co2 in the atmosphere you can’t have, in the words of NASA climatologist James Hansen, “a planet similar to the one on which civilization evolved and to which life on earth is adapted.”


The US and other countries continue to invest in the same “green power” technologies that have been tried and tried again and failed. Wind and solar are inherently uncompetitive because they are intermittent and thus not suited to any economy that needs reliable power. It is pie in the sky thinking that that this will magically change. The available storage solutions are extremely inefficient and further increases the already uncompetitive costs.
The single most obvious choice for green power is nuclear. However, the current designs are heavily influenced by military requirements, including weapons production. As such, they cannot be considered optimum for civilian use. They are many alternative designs that do not suffer from these problems.
The problem for any company wishing to install a nuclear reactor is the regulatory hurdles. Standardized, certified design are required. The US has in the past used Manhattan / moon landing style projects to develop solutions to similar problems.
The problem is that some very large and influential players in the US nuclear industry have a vested interest in their current designs and are not likely to support any move to introduce and certify safer designs.


If the US doesn’t want the Keystone oil pipeline they can always get their oil from the Middle East instead of Canada. How has that strategy been working for you so far?


As a Canadian I feel two things about this pipeline.
1) After our soldiers have fought together in so many wars, you prefer oil from Saudi Arabia? Its not like you can just stop importing oil … so why not buy ours?
2) This century belongs to China and India. Americans are screwed. We will sell the oil to Asia if you don’t want it.