In the face of a decision on Keystone XL coming in the next few months, the pledge of resistance is a commitment to massive and historic nationwide acts of peaceful, dignified civil disobedience if President Obama takes the first step to approve Keystone XL.
The pledge is being organized by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network and The Other 98% to put direct political pressure on President Obama to reject Keystone XL.
More than 75,000 people have already signed the pledge, committing to risk arrest if necessary to protest approval of Keystone XL. In making this pledge, it is our hope that we can convince President Obama to reject Keystone XL, so that our risking-arrest is not necessary.
To demonstrate our commitment and seriousness, over the summer we will have small-scale preview actions, and we will train 1,000 activists to lead civil disobedience actions in their own community, at State Department Offices, federal buildings and other strategic targets.
On January 31, the administration released its final environmental assessment (SEIS) of Keystone XL – which despite being written by an oil industry contractor, still couldn’t deny that the Keystone XL pipeline fails President Obama’s climate test. The release of the SEIS begins what is likely to be a three-month process to issue the Draft National Interest Determination (NID) and for the president to make the final decision.
More than 100 actions are prepared and ready to deploy for when the Obama administration releases its draft NID, a decision that will most likely come a few months after the recently-released SEIS. And in the coming months, activists across the country will prepare even more actions. If the State Department releases an NID that recommends approval of Keystone XL, that will trigger our pledge, and President Obama will be the target of the largest deployment of civil-disobedience in our nation’s history. Tens of thousands of activists across the country will risk arrest in a last ditch effort to convince President Obama not to approve Keystone XL. If he instead finds that the pipeline is not in our national interest, our actions will not be triggered, and we will instead happily help President Obama move forward on his promise to confront climate change.
Why has it come to this?
We are at a turning point in the history of humanity. Our planet recently crossed the threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the first time in millions of years, and the history of human life on earth. (Scientists agree that to preserve a livable climate, we must return atmospheric carbon to the safe level of 350 ppm.)
That means keeping in the ground massive pools of carbon like the Alberta tar sands and taking aggressive action to transition toward truly sustainable and carbon-free sources of energy.
Unfortunately, Congress is hopelessly bought and paid for by the oil industry. Until we can change how our Congress is elected, they are likely to remain hopelessly obstructionist.
But President Obama has the power to take action. He has repeatedly promised to do so. And the Keystone XL pipeline decision is solely in his hands.
We have petitioned, and called, and submitted official public comments – but so far, President Obama hasn’t acted with the urgency that is necessary. The limited progress he has made on climate would be massively undermined by Keystone XL.
What has worked is civil disobedience. In 2011, President Obama was faced with another decision on Keystone XL. The conventional wisdom said he would approve it. But after 1,253 people got arrested over two weeks at the White House in August, he rejected Keystone XL.
President Obama inspired all of us in 2008 with his calls to end the tyranny of oil, slow the rise of the oceans, and heal the planet. And then he made the strongest call yet for real action on climate again in the summer of 2013. The Keystone XL decision will set the tone for if President Obama will make any real effort to confront climate change, or go down in history as a President who did nothing in the face of the greatest threat facing our nation.
Tens of thousands of activists are committing to escalating their own action to urge our President that it is finally time for him to do the same.