One step forward, one step back for tar-sands protesters
It’s a bittersweet moment for direct environmental action against nasty tar-sands pollution. (So many moments are bittersweet in the fight against nasty tar-sands pollution …)
On the sweet side, Canada’s Idle No More movement has gone global today, mobilizing protests around the world to highlight mistreatment of indigenous peoples and the environment. The movement has been galvanized by plans to pipe tar-sands oil across First Nations land in British Columbia and by the Canadian government’s attempts to roll back environmental protections for most of the country’s waterways. Actions are already rolling across Canada, at U.N. headquarters in New York, and as far away as Australia and Greenland.
“This day of action will peacefully protest attacks on Democracy, Indigenous Sovereignty, Human Rights and Environmental Protections when Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons on January 28th,” organizers said in a statement.
But for the bitter: The Tar Sands Blockade, which is fighting ongoing construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas, faced a significant setback in court on Friday.
In a lawsuit against 19 individual activists as well as the groups Tar Sands Blockade, Rising Tide North Texas, and Rising Tide North America, pipeline builder TransCanada sought $5 million in damages, stating that the activists had disrupted pipeline construction and caused financial losses for the company (despite at other times claiming they had no impact at all). Activists settled the lawsuit without paying damages, but agreed not to trespass on Keystone XL property in Texas or Oklahoma.
“TransCanada is dead wrong if they think a civil lawsuit against a handful of Texans is going to stop a grassroots civil disobedience movement,” said Ramsey Sprague, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade.
Sprague is right. This court loss might be bitter, but I wouldn’t count out the blockaders in this fight. And when even the Sierra Club is preparing to tape up and jump in the ring, you know the real shit is still yet to go down.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
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