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The Ac Fac
Putting in place a climate policy that will truly fight global warming needs to happen at all levels - from the negotiations in Copenhagen to the debate in the House and Senate and even to the level of consideration of a pipeline permit. If we allow individual projects to move forward without sufficient analysis of how they link to the goal of building a clean energy future - we undermine our own policy commitments and priorities.
It is not in our national interest to invest in pipelines and refineries that will lock us into the high levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil production, transportation and upgrading. Instead of pipelines for tar sands oil, we need to be building the infrastructure for our clean energy economy so that in the future, we will not depend on oil - and especially not on the even dirtier tar sands oil.
After considerable review and evaluation, on August 20, 2009, the Department issued a Presidential Permit to Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership for the Alberta Clipper pipeline.
The State Department will continue to work to ensure that both the United States and Canada take ambitious action to address climate change, and will cooperate with the Canadian government through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, the pursuit of comprehensive climate legislation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We are very upset about your decision, announced today, to approve the Clipper pipeline that will carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta into the US. If you and the president are truly committed to "reducing overall emissions and leading the global transition to a low-carbon economy," as mentioned in today's release, then this decision is entirely hypocritical. The use of tar sands for energy in the US will certainly increase, not reduce, our overall carbon emissions.
A few weeks ago, we let you know about the problems associated with the construction of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline. We urged you not to approve the destruction of indigenous lands and increased carbon emissions that this pipeline will bring. Hopeful that you would make the right choice, we acted out a skit in front of your office at the State Department, where you rescued Canada, America and the rest of the world from the filthy, evil Tar Sands Monster. We filled up your voicemail box numerous times with phone calls from across the country, and we sent you over 10,000 emails urging you to deny this permit.
Today's statement asserts that this permit approval sends a "positive economic signal." We can't afford to send any more positive economic signals to dirty energy corporations; instead we must only send positive signals to those who are creating green economic prosperity. We have been encouraged by the administration's rhetoric that economic growth and fighting climate change are not in fact mutually exclusive, but this decision does not reflect that perspective.
This oil pipeline will only extend the US’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come instead of reversing global warming and putting the US on a low-carbon track towards green economic prosperity. We're watching your decisions. We are aware of the contradictions between your words and actions, and we are disappointed.
Avaaz Action Factory
The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements.
When we set up camp 50 yards from the State Department staff entrance at seven o’clock this morning, there was the usual kafuffle with the police arriving and trying to figure out what they could kick us out for. When they found nothing (except for lowering the tops of our makeshift tents to make us look less like we’re camping), they backed off and those that stayed became very friendly and have just been spending the day with us. Even later, when an employee from inside the building called the police asking them to remove us, they came over here and told us that we were doing nothing wrong and to keep up the good work!
Most employees walking by have been very receptive though, and we ran out of our 500 flyers within the first three hours because everyone was so enthusiastically taking them. We’ve gotten lots of smiles, a few peace signs, and just generally feel pretty appreciated which really helps motivate us to keep going.
When we went inside to deliver a letter with our message, a representative from the office of Todd Stern, the US leading climate negotiator for COP 15, came down to talk with us. She said that they recognized us from our previous actions (Clinton's Big Decision on Tar Sands and Todd Stern Needs High Fives) and that they’re happy we’re here. Another lady walking by let us know that she works closely with Stern’s office and that they know we’re here, they know our message, and they appreciate our work.
Even just this much would have made it feel worth it to me, but then the press started to arrive. We staged an informational interview about climate refugees for CNN, cleanskies.tvnews, and Local Channel 9, who covered our entire action with three huge cameras on tripods. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of coverage comes out of that; I really hope this issue gets some of the recognition it deserves.
Please keep following us on twitter @actionfactorydc and watching our blog for updates, because we’ll be here all night. As one passer-by advised us, we’re sticking around and not cutting them any slack!
Secretary Clinton, be a leader! Recognize and protect climate refugees at COP15.
Clipper PipelineFor more information on action to stop oil sands, check out DirtyOilSands.org and the Indigenous Environmental Network http://www.ienearth.org/
Enbridge wants to build a 1,000-mile pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta Oil Sands to Superior, Wisconsin. The 36-inch Alberta Clipper Pipeline would carry up to 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Hardisty, Alberta (Canada) to refineries in the United States — primarily in the Midwest.
Graphic: Minnesota Public Radio/Enbridge.
In the United States, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline would extend 326 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border near Neche, North Dakota across northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
"What can the US do in 10 years?" The first banner asked. "Put a man on the moon (check); cut co2 40% (dotted-line-check)." said the 2nd.Responses in the room ranged from excited smiles and laughs to uncomfortable grimaces. Senators Boxer and Sanders didn't reach for the gavel to call for order. A confused capitol police officer kindly asked us to sit, but didn't kick us out. After 15 minutes, another officer asked us into the hallway but let us back in after a warning. Walking in and out of the hearing twice only added to our visibility because of the bright and shiny NASA suits we all had on.
Tuesday, July 7th: first EPW hearing on Climate Bill
The Strongmen stormed the capitol! 6 activists in muscle costumes greeted senators going into the hearing, to flex their legislative muscles and strengthen the bill. Despite getting there at 7am for a 10am hearing, too many paid line-sitters were saving seats for lobbyists, preventing the Strongmen from entering. Their presence in the hallway was still impressive because it afforded the opportunity to talk to the press and flex for all the staff. The Strongmen also greeted energy secretary Steven Chu and Senators Kerry and Lugar walking in and out of the Foreign Relations Committee meeting room across the hall. Quote from Senator Kerry: "Stronger Climate Bill? Lets make it happen!"
Tuesday Afternoon: EPW Follow up
The Action Factory Strongmen visited 18 of the 19 senators offices on the EPW committee that afternoon to do personal workout routines. (Senator Inhoffe was skipped as he is too woefully out of shape to participate.) Workout routines consisted of three easy steps: 4 reps reaching high into the air to hit 40% reductions by 2020, three reps of five for 5% of allocations for international adaptation, 5% for REDD and 5% for clean tech transfer. And finally, since congress needs someone to spot them on the big lifts, we asked the EPA to provide oversight. Strongmen left bar-bells as presents in the offices, as well as teaching the receptionists how to do the workout for their bosses.
Thursday, July 9th: Aerial photo and more office visits:
As part of the Campus Progress lobby day, the Action Factory stepped up to organize a mass-action involving over 60 people in a guerilla aerial photo. Co-organizing with Energy Action Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a team of letter captains, 50 volunteers walked into the Senate Hart office building and formed a ‘flash-mob’ spelling out STRONG in front of the baffled police. (See above photo)
This rapid-response call for a STRONG bill was followed by a group of 30 in strongmen outfits, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger shirts and Powershift09 shirts to visit the offices of primary targets in the fight for a strong climate bill: Senators Levin (D-MI), Snow (R-ME) and McCaskill (D-MO).
The visit to McCaskil’s office was particularly relevant because she has repeatedly expressed concern that the climate bill is ‘too strong’ (to paraphrase). With the Strongmen’s help, Claire can beef up her stance on climate, provide the green jobs Missourians want and the international leadership the world needs.
Avaaz Action Factories: www.actionfactories.org
Avaaz has formed action factories at two strategic locations in Europe and in Washington DC to gather and deploy youth climate activists. Each location houses 15+ 'Youth Climate Fellows' working as a team, and supported by Avaaz.org. These fellows are devoting their summer months to mobilizing stunts, lobbying campaigns, and other actions. The work of these activists will maximize the possibility of achieving a strong binding global climate treaty at Copenhagen, and will raise the expectations and demands of the global public that governments must achieve such a treaty.
Roll Call - Covers news and gossip on Capitol Hill
Slate.com - Online news magazine with broad national reach and diverse readership
Free Speech Radio News
Treehugger.com - national blog on green politics, lifestyle, products and issues
Wonkroom - Center for American Progress blog
CNN - Lou Dobbs - Brief appearance on environmental groups not having a fair fight against big-money lobbyists.