Opponents of Keystone to train 60K activists in civil disobedience

Progressive groups and Native Americans are escalating their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline with acts of civil disobedience. 

The mobile phone firm CREDO Mobile and green group Rainforest Action Network plan to train 60,000 activists in civil disobedience as they pressure President Obama to reject the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.

“There is still time to convince President Obama to change his mind and reject Keystone XL,” CREDO Political Director Becky Bond said during a Monday media call.

American Indian tribes are spearheading a separate initiative in hopes of blocking Keystone’s construction. Their effort began in earnest Monday, when an activist impeded building crews working on a section of the pipeline in Tushka, Okla.

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With the comment period for a draft State Department environmental review on Keystone ending Monday, CREDO and other groups are shifting their focus to the so-called determination of national interest review by the State Department.

The national interest determination will provide one of the last signals on whether the White House will issue a cross-border permit to TransCanada Corp. for construction of the pipeline.

Bond said CREDO's push against the pipeline will consist of 1,000 demonstrations during the two-week period between the national interest determination report — likely due in September — and the date that the president could issue the cross-border permit.

“We think that escalation is critical at this point,” Bond said.

The actions will target corporate offices, the State Department and events held by Organizing for Action, the outside political group that spun off Obama’s reelection campaign and supports the president's agenda.

Bond said she anticipates 100,000 will sign up for the civil disobedience pledge by September.

“This is going to be something where individuals are sending messages to the president that they’re willing to go to jail,” Bond said.

But the momentum appears to be on the side of Keystone's supporters, which include industry, business and labor groups.

The State Department’s draft environmental review said Keystone wouldn’t accelerate production of Canada’s carbon-intensive oil sands or significantly boost greenhouse gas emissions, undercutting the arguments against the project from green groups.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday on Fox News that the review "laid the groundwork that — that we can do this safely," noting the Keystone decision is "in the president's corner."

The majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate support the pipeline, arguing it would create jobs while bringing oil from an ally of the United States.

If the civil disobedience effort proceeds, it won’t be the first time Keystone opponents — largely green and progressive groups who say the pipeline would be harmful to the climate — have gone to jail opposing the project.

Green groups, including the Sierra Club and 350.org, organized a February protest at the White House that urged Obama to block the pipeline. About 50 people were arrested. And in August 2011, 350.org organized a protest at the White House that ended with 1,253 activists going to jail.