KXL Dissidence: Hundreds of Youth Arrested

KXL Dissidence: Hundreds of Youth Arrested

By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor

On 2 March 2014 a large student-driven protest arrived at the Whitehouse. Over 1,000 people showed up to protest the possibility of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The proposed pipeline is meant to carry tar sands bitumen from Alberta to Nebraska. Barack Obama has neither rejected, nor accepted the proposal this time around, although he did reject it once previously.

The protest held on the 2nd ended with 400 youth arrested. It is part of a new movement called XL Dissent, a pledge that over 70,000 people have signed. The pledge indicates a willingness to participate in civil disobedience should Obama allow KXL to proceed. This act was simply a precursor, but it was an intense one. Its aim is self-evident: lobbying Obama to not go allow KXL in the first place. Although completely non-violent, this protest went a little beyond the action taken in previous protests. In one action, a group of students faked an oil spill outside of John Kerry’s house. Kerry has to make the final recommendation to Obama on KXL.

The KXL has brought together a big mélange of people in opposition. Beyond the usual environmental groups, like the Sierra Club and 350.org, but also landowners and farmers along the route who have received little-to-no say on whether construction can begin. Some construction of the pipeline has already started, despite the fact that the project as a whole is yet to be approved. It was Obama himself who told Americans that he would not approve KXL unless it was proven that there was going to be no “significant” changes in carbon emissions. In February, a Nebraskan court found the current route of KXL to be unconstitutional due to the potential infringement on citizen’s property rights.

The tar sands and their by-products continue to dominate and divide much of North American politics. Yet, as the tar sands attempt to expand their reach, the resistance intensifies. Will Obama side with his earlier comments and the youth who played a large role in electing him, or will he approve Keystone XL only to provoke a hypothetical 70,000 people to block it? Either way, he can only hold his silence for so much longer.