Posts Tagged ‘Keystone XL’

Check out my interview on last week’s Green Majority show on CIUT!

March 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Last week I was interviewed by Daryn Caister of The Green Majority, which is a weekly environmental news program produced live at CIUT in Toronto  and broadcast on campus and community stations across the country. During the interview we talked about my visit to Washington, DC for the most recent massive Keystone XL pipeline protest on February 17, 2013 and some larger issues around Keystone and climate change more generally.

You can hear the interview at the following link:

EG Radio February 28 2013: ‘Forward on Climate’ special with Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Michael Brune and Jacquie Thomas

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

102This week on Earthgauge, we hear speeches and interviews from the huge ‘Forward on Climate‘ rally in Washington D.C. on February 17. We have speeches by Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream, Bill McKibben of, Michael Brune, executive director of the U.S. Sierra Club, and Jacquie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in B.C., and interviews from the rally with Michael Brune and Canadian author/ activist Naomi Klein. We also have our weekly update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns in the Ottawa area.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Forward on Climate!103

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to cover the huge Forward on Climate rally organized by, the Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus among others. Roughly 40-50,000 people gathered on Washington’s national mall to urge President Obama to follow through on the commitments he made during his inaugural address in January to respond to the climate change crisis.

The protesters’ demands included urging Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which if constructed would carry tar sands crude from northern Alberta through the U.S. to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Organizers of the event called it the largest climate rally anywhere in history. Among the many displays and banners was a mock pipeline that read “separate oil and state”. The Rev. Lennox Yearwood who MC’d the event compared it to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington for civil rights. Following the speeches at the Mall, the protesters began their march through the streets of Washington to the White House. It was really an incredible sight to behold: thousands of people young and old carrying banners, chanting, singing and making a lot of noise in what was the largest climate change protest in history and the largest environmental protest in Washington in decades.



Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in B.C.


Van Jones



D.C. at dusk after the protest

Following the rally, I had some time to visit the National Museum of African American History at the Smithsonian Institute where I came upon a quotation by the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So whatever you may think of the campaign to stop Keystone XL, it would appear that climate change activists around the world are beginning to wake up to the cold reality of Douglass’ words. We may well look back upon last weekend’s protest as only the beginning of a long, bitter and increasingly hostile battle.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on

Will John Kerry reject Keystone XL?

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

A very interesting post today by Joe Romm at Based on the recent comments of the new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, Romm is speculating that Kerry “shows no sign whatsoever of backing down from the moral urgency that has made him a true climate champion.” Click the video link above to see Kerry’s first big foreign policy speech in which he says the following:

We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.

As Romm writes, “Does this sound like a man who is going to launch his term as Secretary of State approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world? His repetition of the word “courage” makes it sound like he is talking directly to the President.”

Remember that the U.S. State Department, under Kerry’s leadership, must give its approval to Keystone XL (because it crosses an international border) before the project can proceed.

Read my article published in the Common Sense Canadian: Could the Tide Slowly be Turning Against Dirty Oil?

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I am pleased to be contributing to the excellent online news and commentary publication The Common Sense Canadian. My first article, entitled Obama’s Keystone XL Reversal: Could the Tide Slowly be Turning Against Dirty Oil?, appeared on their web site yesterday. The full article is printed below.

Obama’s Keystsone XL Reversal: Could the Tide Slowly be Turning Against Dirty Oil?

Strolling around Washington, D.C. last weekend, I came upon an impressive memorial to the famous wartime president Franklin Roosevelt. Upon the gray granite walls were inscribed many of FDR’s most memorable quotations. “Men and nature must work hand in hand,” he wrote in a 1935 message to Congress. “The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.”

Having traveled to the U.S. capital to cover the latest protest of the Keystone XL project, I wondered what FDR might say about TransCanada’s controversial pipeline proposal. A pipeline that would transport tar sands crude from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, Keystone has been described as a 2700 km “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet” in the words of author and activist Bill McKibben. Protest organizers had hoped to encircle the White House with at least 4000 people in what McKibben called both an “O-shaped hug” and “house arrest.” Instead, at least 10,000 protesters showed up, young and old, from all over North America, ringing President Obama’s residence three-deep. Read more…

Earthgauge interviews with James Hansen, Bill McKibben and Maude Barlow from Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C. [#nokxl]

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Click the audio players below to hear my interviews from the Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C. last weekend with NASA scientist James Hansen; author and activist Bill McKibben and the Council of Canadians’ Maude Barlow.

James Hansen 

It was a rare pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with Dr. James Hansen, renowned NASA scientist and one of the world’s leading climatologists. He heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

Right click here to download the interview (3:18).


Bill McKibben

If there is one individual who can be credited with building the U.S. climate change movement to the level of influence it has reached today, it is Bill McKibben. In addition to being an author and journalist, McKibben has been a tireless environmental and climate activist. He is the author of several books and is a frequent contributor to various magazines including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside. He is also a board member and contributor to Grist Magazine.

Right click here to download the interview (1:55).


Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is another person I’ve been trying to interview for some time. In our discussion, she is refreshingly upbeat in her assessment of the prospects of stopping both Keystone XL and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines. Sure enough, mere days after the Keystone protest in D.C., President Obama announced that he would be delaying until 2013 his decision on whether or not to grant a permit to TransCanada to construct the pipeline.

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is the recipient of 11 honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement and the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award. In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 16 books, including the international bestseller Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.

Right click here to download the interview (2:50).

Now that Keystone XL has been delayed, all eyes turn to the west coast – Enbridge Northern Gateway the next tar sands battleground

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

A big congratulations goes out to protest organizers and all those who have been campaigning against Keystone XL for many months now (if not longer). founder Bill McKibben deserves particular praise for his tireless efforts. A few days after last week’s protest in D.C. the Obama Administration decided to delay a decision on whether to approve the Keystone pipeline for at least a year. Whether the decision was related to environmental issues, concerns about the proposed route over Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, the incompetence and nepotism of the State Department project evaluation, or some other (political?) consideration, the fact is that the project has been delayed giving opponents more time to organize against the pipeline. Some feel the project may never go ahead as investors are losing confidence and the whole process is simply costing TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline, too much money. I’m not so sure about this. It’s still far too early to claim victory in my view. And if Obama loses next year’s election, it will put the decision in the hands of his Republican opponent. There can be little doubt about how a Mitt Romney or Rick Perry might rule on this issue.

In the meantime, Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told Bloomberg News on Friday that “It may mean that we may have to move quickly to ensure that we can export our oil to Asia through British Columbia.” Oh, really? It sure didn’t take long for the Canadian government to throw down the gauntlet. It is safe to assume that the ground will now shift quickly and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline will soon become the next heated tar sands debate. Opponents such as  environmentalists and Aboriginal groups in B.C. would do well to get themselves organized now and be prepared for the war that is sure to be waged by the tar sands industry and the governments of Canada and Alberta on behalf of Northern Gateway. They will not want to lose another fight to get their oil to market.

Still, for now we can celebrate a small victory over Keystone XL. The decision to delay was quite remarkable given the current dismal economic climate in the U.S. and the well-financed campaigns being waged by TransCanada and the Canadian/Albertan governments promising jobs and economic growth should Keystone be approved.

In the end, a collection of environmental and labour groups, Nebraskan residents, a few politicians and a handful of prominent spokespeople have managed to, temporarily at least, derail the $7 billion project. As Bill McKibben wrote in an email soon after the decision was announced, “It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end.  As late as last week the CBC reported that Transcanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted. A done deal has come spectacularly undone.”

Soon after the delay was announced, Naomi Klein tweeted that when the campaign against Keystone XL began, “most Americans hadn’t heard of the tar sands, let alone Keystone. This is what 3 months of amazing campaigning can do.” Let’s hope we see the same thing in B.C. when Northern Gateway heats up in 2012.

Earthgauge interview with actor Mark Ruffalo at Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C.

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a quick chat last weekend in D.C. with actor and activist Mark Ruffalo about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and his organization Water Defense, which is trying to bridge the movements working to stop mountain top removal, hydro fracking, tar sands mining, and other destructive practices that threaten our dwindling global supply of clean water. Among other causes, Ruffalo has been a dedicated and passionate campaigner against the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas extraction in the U.S. He is also an acclaimed actor, having appeared in movies such as The Kids are Alright, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Shutter Island.

Click on the audio player above or right click here to download the interview (4:05).

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