[The following is an excerpt from a letter to friends, family and allies written by a scout working with a group of Earth First! folks in the woods of east Texas. They are calling on you to join them ASAP in a full time direct action camp that is growing as you read this. To read the original call to action from this group, and find out how to contact them, click here.]
Greetings. I’m writing to you from the Tar Sands blockade (TSB) in rural east Texas. It’s shaping up to be quite possibly the epic eco-defense battle of our generation. The action is due to start Monday, and so I’ll likely be away from computers for awhile and mobbin’ around the woods for at least a few days. There’s a chance I may be arrested, but it’s unlikely. More likely scenario is that many of us will simply be maintaining phone and online silence during the upcoming showdown.
BACKGROUND: TransCanada (TC) is a multi-billion dollar corporation engaged in exploiting the Alberta Tar Sands, the most ecologically destructive project on planet Earth. They are trying to move large amounts of bitumen south through Canada and eight US states using a series of massive pipelines, one of which is called “Keystone”. TC has a history of oil spills across the continent and these pipelines are so massive that there will most certainly be oil spills poisoning watersheds if the pipelines are completed.
Last Summer hundreds of people led by liberal activist Bill McKibben held a sit-in comprised of intentional arrests in front of the White House pleading with the president to deny approval of the pipeline. He delayed the decision for the Montana to Nebraska portion of the pipeline until 2013 (after the election) and the liberals claimed victory. Meanwhile, in March 2012 he approved the Oklahoma to Texas portion which is now under construction. TC has seized many acres of land belonging to thousands of people using eminent domain. The nature of eminent domain is such that it’s almost impossible for private citizens to sue corporations and win. Many people in Texas are outraged about this but have been prevented from taking action due to fear of losing their land or because they’ve been paid off. We are friends with several who are resisting, and they’re among our most effective allies, but they can’t win this fight alone…
SITUATION: Driving around East Texas looking at the scarred landscape, it’s easy to feel a deep despair about the enormity of our fight. TC is building the pipeline in so many different places at once, trashing so many people’s homes and farms, and it’s impossible to fight them everywhere. There have been isolated lockdown actions over the past few weeks, but the bulk of a lot of people’s energy has been put into fortifying this blockade for the coming battle. Today the machines began tearing through the woods along the pipeline “easement” on their way here. A friend and I went to scout it out and ended up twenty feet away from a feller buncher. This thing was taking down trees at least one every ten seconds. We could have stopped it right there simply by jumping out in front of it, and our strong instinct was to do so. We restrained ourselves in order to have more time for the blockade to prepare. The feller buncher cleared a path most of the way to here, then stopped work for the day. We expect that its return is imminent.
We anticipate more activity any minute now, and we’ll have no choice but to defend our newfound native forest home against the mechanized assault. This will bring the heat from law enforcement, and thus our blockade becomes a battle zone. The tree sitters and wall sitters are preparing for a long siege and to resist extraction, and the ground scouts are preparing for similar intensity as the machines roll forward. Meanwhile our media team will be working around the clock informing the world about the stand we’re making here. Legal support, food team etc, are also mobilized. This battle is happening now.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you can, get down here and help us. All skill sets are needed, from tree sitters and riggers to bloggers and camera people, chefs and logistical types, lawyers, forest scouts, medics, chaplains, organizers, trainers, techies, etc. Tell all your friends who might be available to also come down and help. We need all the help we can get. We are just a few dozen down here, and thousands are needed to make this into a mass movement capable of actually resisting TC. Share this on facebook, twitter, tumblr, your blog(s), and whatever else. Tell all your networks to pay attention to this upcoming confrontation and follow our live blog at TarSandsBlockade.org.
Thanks for reading, thanks for caring, thanks for participating in the ongoing struggle for social and ecological justice, and I hope to see you in the woods...
(To officially join the Tar Sands Blockade, click here.)