In an effort to connect the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline being constructed by the multinational corporation TransCanada to extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein showed up to support the Tar Sands Blockade.
Stein chose to risk arrest by taking supplies to the tree sitters. Backpacks and warm winter clothing were some of the supplies that were successfully delivered, but police being paid by TransCanada detained and later arrested Stein for taking action.
She was detained for over an hour before police made the decision to arrest her. A freelance reporter was also detained but later released for being there to cover the Blockade.
Stein issued a statement posted by the Blockade on why she had chosen to show support:
I’m here to connect the dots between super storm Sandy and the record heat, drought, and fire we’ve seen this year – and this Tar Sands pipeline, which will make all of these problems much worse. And I’m here to connect the dots between climate devastation and pipeline politicians – both Obama and Romney – who are competing, as we saw in the debates, for the role of Puppet In Chief for the fossil fuel industry. Both deserve that title. Obama’s record of “drill baby drill” has gone beyond the harm done by George Bush. Mitt Romney promises more of the same.
This is not the first time Stein has been arrested during the 2012 Election. She was arrested along with her running mate, Cheri Honkala, outside Hofstra University, the site of the second Obama-Romney debate on October 16.
Stein resupplied tree sitters in Winnsboro, Texas, who are part of a direct action that has been going on for over a month.
Ron Seifert, media spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade, described how TransCanada is in the process of laying individual sections of pipe.
“They run them through a machine that bends them and contorts them to match the contours of the landscape so that when they bury it it will have dips and turns,” Seifert reported. This is happening west of the tree blockade in Winnsboro so they are “circumnavigating” it, which he said goes to show “they’ve just been lying to land owners for years.”
“Every land owner that asked them if they could just please move the route a little bit here or there to avoid a garden or their front yard or pond” was told by TransCanada it could not be done,” explained Seifert. Their construction around the tree sitters shows this is and was never true.
The Tar Sands Blockade also launched a second tree blockade. According to the group’s website, in Sacul, Texas, two lifelong residents of New England—Pika of Vermont and Lauren of New Hampshire—climbed up in to platforms to halt construction near a highway crossing.
Seifert told Firedoglake heavy machinery is in the area to the destroy the forest and cut a path for the pipeline. The Blockade has tied ropes to the heavy machinery. The ropes go up into the trees and over big tree branches. Hanging from the ropes are platforms for Pika and Lauren.
The two joined the action just after witnessing the strength of Sandy. From the Blockade’s website:
…“Just a year ago, Vermont was hit really hard by Hurricane Irene. I spent months helping friends and family clean out basements and rebuild houses that were completely destroyed by flooding,“ shared Pika. “I have extended family in Arizona and Colorado who have been just crushed by the drought and the forest fires that have been happening in the last few years. I came here because this is one of the foremost campaigns against the most destructive resource extraction industry at the root of the climate crisis we are living in today.”…
Lauren told the Blockade she has always been concerned about the environment and sensitive to “personal stories of people directly impacted by pollution.”
“Knowing that the ruin in my home state from Sandy only stands to be amplified by the toxic, leaky Keystone XL and the extreme impact of carbon emissions from ongoing tar sands development” inspired Lauren to join with others to stop construction.
The scene around the tree blockade continues to be a police state. Six sheriffs have apparently showed up to patrol the new tree blockade by Pika and Lauren. Someone standing on the shoulder of a public road to exercise their freedom of speech or assembly is likely to be harassed by police for not showing or having identification. Trying to deliver food or water to tree sitters is an act that will get a person arrested.
Those participating in the Blockade are committed to action that disrupts and stops construction. What TransCanada is doing with construction is an act of trespassing to organizers. What the corporation has done is fraudulent. And brave and selfless people are risking arrest and their personal safety in some instances to physically stop the pipeline.
Here’s a video of blockaders up in the trees. There have been sitters in the trees disrupting construction for over a month now.