Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Something big is happening

Dear friends—

After a remarkable couple of weeks in DC, we have our work cut out for us.

By now you know what we accomplished: 1,253 arrests, according to some journalists the biggest civil disobedience action since 1977, and the most sustained since the epic campaigns of the civil rights movement. That was enough to take a regional issue and make it a national and even global one (many thanks to our friends, who picketed American and Canadian embassies on every continent).

Together we managed to make the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline the central environmental test for the administration, and to inform everyone who’s paying attention that Barack Obama will get to make the call by himself, without Congress in the way. In other words, you’ve laid the groundwork for a mighty victory—now we have to make it pay off.

The President will be making a final decision about the pipeline in about two and a half months - 90 days after the final State Department report - and we need to get to work if we're going to convince him to reject the pipeline.

Here’s the plan:

Our main efforts will be to keep the focus on the President, even as we engage the State Department hearing process and other technical aspects of the debate. We don’t want the President to be able to hide from the decisions he's making.

And we’re not going to do him the favor of attacking him. Instead, we’re going to pay him the dangerous compliment of taking his words from 2008 seriously. Remember this is the president who once declared: “Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil"

We're still planning something big for October 7th or 8th - the 7th is the date of the last State Department hearing in Washington, DC - but first we need to go back into our communities to keep building this movement. The White House is going to be watching to see if our sit-in was an isolated incident or whether there really is a movement of people across this country rising up to stop the pipeline.

First, we need to tell the story of what just happened in Washington by meeting with folks in our communities to talk about our experiences. This could be as simple as a small gathering in your home, or as elaborate as you'd like. Your story is the most powerful tool you have to keep building this movement. A few of our organizers got together to make a PowerPoint slideshow that you can use in a meetup, and if you'd like to host an event in your community to spread the word, sign up here:

Second, all around the United States, people will be going to Obama campaign offices in polite but firm fashion to remind him that we took him seriously—that he shouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it. Watch this video that just arrived from Seattle to get a sense of what we have in mind: We’ll be trying to coordinate this work from city to city—if you’re willing to help in your town, and are certain you can deliver a calm, firm message, sign up here:

For those of you in Canada, there's another critical next step for you to take: a coalition of groups similar to this has come together to lead an action on September 26th on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Sign up at for more information

That’s our plan for now. I want to make sure that we use this opportunity to strengthen our connections with each other, and make this a true movement. This is your opportunity to start taking a leadership role in this campaign.

We’ll be giving you updates on plans for the 7th of course, and letting you know what's up. We have no guarantee we’ll succeed, but thanks to you this fight is very much on!

-Bill McKibben for

PS - I wanted to make sure that you saw this amazing video capturing the last two weeks of our action. A must-see:

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