A nonviolent direct action is underway in Texas seeking to block construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline planned to carry tar sands oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
Now in its second week, the Tar Sands Blockade is being carried out by a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and environmental activists. They oppose TransCanada's use of eminent domain to seize private property for the pipeline and argue that extraction of tar sands will lead to further disruption of the climate.
Pipeline opponents have also that the project will increase the toxic burden of communities that live near the Texas refineries where the highly impure tar sands oil would be processed. Tar sands oil is much dirtier than convention crude, with higher levels of heavy metals and other toxins.
Following protests over the pipeline last summer and fall, including civil disobedience leading to , President Obama postponed a final decision on the construction of the full length of the pipeline until 2013. The pipeline requires State Department approval since it crosses an international boundary.
TransCanada then split the project and, with the support of the Obama administration, is focusing on the southern segment that will carry crude oil ostensibly from the Midwest to Texas refineries. But environmentalists fear that the pipeline will ultimately end up carrying Canadian tar sands oil.
Since Sept. 24, nine protesters have been sitting in trees along the pipeline's planned route through northeast Texas, forcing contractors to work around them. The activists have also locked arms through the frame of heavy machinery, resulting in their being pepper-sprayed and tased by law enforcement officials.
The following video provides dramatic footage of what's happening at the scene: