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Louisa Willcox’s Blog

Photos and perspectives of the November, 2011 Keystone XL Pipeline protest

Louisa Willcox

Posted January 13, 2012

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It has taken me a while to process the many photos I took at the Nov 6, 2011 Keystone XL pipeline protest that involved encircling the White House, but I got a few good ones that I would like to share. What amazed me was the diversity of people -- young and old -- who stood in solidarity against the construction of a pipeline that would carry some of the world’s dirtiest fuels through some of the precious and vulnerable lands in the US and Canada. A cadre of Montanans, including my good friend Frances Stewart and the actress Margot Kidder, made the long trip to DC to join in the fray. Margie was especially excited to be back in Lafayette Park, where she and many others were arrested last summer in another protest against the pipeline.

Montanans, including myself, walked shoulder to shoulder with ranchers from the Sand Hills of Nebraska and others from Canada and the Midwest who would bear the brunt of the impacts of this ill-conceived pipeline. I was proud of the major turnout of NRDC staff and members too who, with 12,000 others, took time that day to encircle the White House not just once, but several times.  

The day was a joyous celebration of special landscapes, and an unequivocal expression of opposition to a pipeline that represents everything that a sane energy policy should strive to avoid: the industrialization of ecologically unique places, major climate change effects, a high likelihood of accidents and spills, disruption of communities, and subsidies for big business to create a mess that future generations will have to deal with. While the Obama administration has since delayed the permitting of the pipeline, we have many miles to go to stop its construction. 

As the debate continues, in the meantime I thought you might enjoy a few photos that captured some of the spirit of the day.  

This young man was perched on his father’s shoulders to better see the crowd.

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I could not resist the bear photo: who better to tell the story of climate change pollution?


My good friend Frances Stewart who lives along the Yellowstone River in Montana – a river that could be harmed if crossed, as planned, by the Keystone XL pipeline.


One of many handmade signs.


My colleague Josh Mogerman of NRDC (left) tweeting about the protest.


 A human-powered facsimile of the pipeline also encircled the White House.  


The end of a long day of training in democratic action.   


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Carolyn DuVallJan 14 2012 12:40 PM

I am writing to encourage you to keep fighting against the Keystone Pipeline development in your state. You can win. Our small citizen groups in Eastern Washington State stopped a huge hazardous waste facility from being built on the banks of the Columbia River, with close access to Interstate 90. We were able to stop the project in the permitting process by enlisting the help of all kinds of groups, and many business organizations. The Rabanco facility, proposed in December 1982, and was finally terminated with lease cancellation in July, 1994. A long time, but it was worth the effort to protect this rural farming area, our homes and families, and recreation area of Washington State.

See: Rabanco Waste Site Lease Is Terminated .
citizens groups had been concerned about the transfer, of hazardous ... under the 950000 settlement of a 1987 lawsuit Rabanco filed against Grant County. ...

ALL of the people surrounding the facility, especially downwind for over a hundred miles, were contacted either in person or by public newspaper and local fliers, to participate. We formed citizen groups, in communities and unincorporated areas, to keep up on the available information on the permit process. These local people traveled to testify at the DOE permitting hearings, showing slides of the rural farming, recreation areas, communities, schools etc.

We had every farmer and rancher contact their commodity product organizations: Farm Bureau, cattleman's Assoc., wheat growers, hay growers, corn producers, potato growers, dairymen, hog producers, every possible marketing group, to document the value of their crops and show the damage that even the hint of contamination would do to their markets.

We asked our state colleges to help by enlisting their geology students to research the effects of contaminated dust damage to the ground water supply; looking up already established geological surveys on ground water locations, bedrock fault lines, and all sources of contamination by surface water runoff.

We contacted the State and Federal agencies for fish, game, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, parks, to enlist their help and gather information on all the details under their jurisdiction. We have a couple fish- farms that have open ponds, national wildlife refuges, and other federal protected areas that we documented at every DOE hearing.

Finally, we demanded an UP-FRONT, GUARANTEED BOND AGAINST FUTURE DAMAGES be placed upon the company, and it's parent companies, as part of the cost of doing this business in our location. For your huge project, a secured cash bond, in the TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS, should be set aside to mitigate ALL the possible damages that will occur over the lifetime of the facility. And an “End-of-life Facility Clean-up Bond”, for Trillions of dollars, that will restore the entire length of the project to its original pristine state, needs to be required, as part of the permit process.

You already know that at least a dozen mishaps of contamination of ground, water, and air have occurred in the first few hundred miles of the project – and the real stress on the facility has not even begun yet. Demand huge amounts of money UP FRONT, for damages, making the true cost of the project obvious to the DOE, the public, and corporate money bags financing the project. When the corporate sponsors know the “project profits” are limited by damage mitigation, they'll drop the project like a very hot potato.

Carolyn DuVall

Joe HeinbaughJan 14 2012 01:24 PM

I truly hope that our current administration can have the guts to take a stand against this project. Crazy that so many politicians over look so many issues with this pipeline.

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