Hundreds Arrested in D.C., Including Dr. James Hansen, Protesting Tar Sands Pipeline

Protesters are demanding that President Obama decline to issue a permit for the proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week Hillary Clinton’s State Department released a report supporting the pipeline, asserting that it will “present no significant environmental problems.” This report could give President Obama “cover” for permitting the project.

In the meantime, hoping to deny him that cover, hundreds of protesters have been arrested, including — yesterday — leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen.

Mainstream news outlets are nearly quiet on this story. The following is from a report by Environmental News Service:

NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen was arrested today in front of the White House where he was demonstrating in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would bring thick crude oil from Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. Dr. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is a climate research scientist at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Arrests are continuing at the White House, where about 140 people gathered on the sidewalk as part of a two-week long sit-in to protest TransCanada’s proposed 1,700 mile pipeline.

The protest has led to the arrest of 521 people since August 20, when protestors began the Tar Sands Action sit-in at the White House. The protest will continue until September 3.

Because the proposed pipeline would cross the United States-Canada border, a Presidential Permit issued by the U.S. State Department is required for the project to proceed. The protestors are demanding that President Barack Obama decline to issue a permit for the pipeline because of the environmental damage it would cause.

“If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is ‘in the national interest,” wrote Dr. Hansen in an August 3 letter to President Obama along with 19 other scientists. “As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”

Here Bill McKibben, who has already been arrested in this action, debates this issue with Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, on the PBS program, Newshour (Flash video):

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

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3 Responses to “Hundreds Arrested in D.C., Including Dr. James Hansen, Protesting Tar Sands Pipeline”
  1. Anna Haynes says:

    Thank you for posting this, Don.

    McKibben writes after emerging from jail, in Grist (link)

    > …Manhattan Institute…

    …funders of which do include the Koch and Scaife foundations

  2. depelton says:


    Thanks for the pointer to McKibben’s statement after his release from jail. I especially like this part, where — inspired by Martin Luther King — he is talking about the power of non-violence:

    The police, who trust the logic of force, never quite seem to get this. When they arrested our group of 70 or so on the first day of our demonstrations, they decided to teach us a lesson by keeping us locked up extra long — strong treatment for a group of people peacefully standing on a sidewalk.

    No surprise, it didn’t work. The next day an even bigger crowd showed up — and now, there are throngs of people who have signed up to be arrested every day until the protests end on Sept. 3. Not only that, a judge threw out the charges against our first group, and so the police have backed off. For the moment, anyway, they’re not actually sending more protesters to jail, just booking and fining them.

    And so the busload of ranchers coming from Nebraska, and the bio-fueled RV with the giant logo heading in from East Texas, and the flight of grandmothers arriving from Montana, and the tribal chiefs, and union leaders, and everyone else will keep pouring into D.C. We’ll all, I imagine, stop and pay tribute to King before or after we get arrested; it’s his lead, after all, that we’re following.


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