2011 Ride

Reporting from Ground Zero in Lincoln, NE

Day 30 – Day 36: Much has taken place since President Obama’s announcement to delay a decision on Keystone XL until after the 2012 election, little of it good for the planet.

First let me say that everyone who helped slow down TransCanada’s “Keystone XL” tar sands juggernaut should be proud of what we have accomplished. By bravely standing together and uniting our voices against Big Oil, we forced President Obama to react to our demands. His decision to delay a decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 election is a testament to the power of the people.

But let’s not kid ourselves: opponents of Keystone XL have “won” nothing, save more time to build on our momentum. Now is not the time for victory celebrations, but for redoubling our efforts to beat back this lethal energy scheme. When you have your opponent staggered against the ropes, you don’t back off and let them recover their strength. You keep on coming until you’ve landed the knock out punch. We need to demand a decision from President Obama on Keystone XL before the 2012 election.

Friday: Woke up this morning shaking my head at all the praise being heaped on Obama for this act of political cowardice. Then broke camp in the front yard of Ron & Joni Clarke after being treated to a hearty breakfast in their earth berm home. After thanking them for their kindness, pedaled the final 60 miles into Lincoln with relative ease, popping into the Seward County Independent for a quick interview on the way. Was relieved to have made it to Lincoln in time for tomorrow’s rally and march. Met up with Ron at the Occupy Lincoln encampment (since disbanded by the police) near the Capitol, where we made some new friends. Afterwards, biked to the home of loving friends who are generously putting us up in their comfy home during our stay in Lincoln. Worked late into the night writing and distributing the press release for tomorrow’s rally. Really appreciated Glenn Hurowitz’s thoughtful response to President Obama’s weak punt on Keystone XL: http://tinyurl.com/7qtca66.

Saturday: Late morning, a group of about a dozen of us, including several enthusiastic University of Nebraska students, gathered at Cooper Park in downtown Lincoln. From there, we marched and rode bikes about 8 blocks to the steps of the Capitol, where we met up with the Occupy Lincoln protesters. Very heartening to see Occupy Lincoln make an exception to their general rule of no issue-specific politics by specifically opposing Keystone XL. A human “line in the sand” against TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline formed on the Capitol steps, followed by interviews with two local television networks. Then about 100 of us slowly snaked our way through downtown Lincoln, with honks of support from passing cars and bystanders joining in. The energy of the marchers and bikers was high, with lots of drumming and “people power” chants. A deeply beautiful show of solidarity, and one that I hope we see more of down the road, as TransCanada is truly a poster child for how corrupt corporations are dominating our lives. The Daily Nebraskan did a good job covering the event: http://tinyurl.com/7p53kaq.

Sunday: Today was a long-anticipated day of rest and rejuvination. At the invitation of Myron Longsoldier, took part in a sacred sweat lodge ceremony. The experience was too powerful for words. Here’s a front page story covering yesterday’s rally in the Lincoln Journal Starhttp://tinyurl.com/d28vadj.

Monday: Spent most of today sitting in the balcony of the Rotunda, in support of BOLD Nebraska, Nebraska Sierra Club and farmers and ranchers (thank you Bruce, Scott and Terry for the traveling cash) who had gathered to monitor the Nebraska Unicameral, which was convening a special session in response to deep concerns over the pipeline. With the blessing of the U.S. State Department, Nebraska’s Senators were busily crafting a deal with TransCanada that may ultimately fast track the pipeline through Nebraska, the one place in the country where resistance to Keystone XL was the strongest, a paradox made possible by Obama’s lack of leadership. While good for the Sand Hills farmers and ranchers who fought so valiantly to keep the pipeline off their land, this is bad news for everyone else. The smiles on the faces of TransCanada representatives at the press conference afterwards telegraphed their heady confidence that they will ultimately win approval from the U.S. government. For one more critical view of Obama’s “kick the can” decision on Keystone XL, check out this compelling piece from Tim DeChristopher: http://tinyurl.com/c27kwcb.

Tuesday: Spent today holed up in my room editing videos from the last month on the road. Ironically, the day before Obama’s delay announcement, the International Energy Agency warned that humanity will lose the chance to halt irreversible climate change if we don’t take bold action to cut fossil fuel emissions in the next five years. Yes, Keystone XL must be blocked, and tar sands exploitation halted. But that is not enough. The President must develop a green energy plan that puts unemployed Americans back to work leading a worldwide green industrial revolution. A president with the vision to call for a green energy moon shot for America is a president worthy of our support. Here’s more on the International Energy Agency’s dire warning: http://tinyurl.com/72zum7a.

Wednesday: Spent today again holed up editing videos from the tour. More Keystone XL shenanigans at the statehouse. We shouldn’t be celebrating an illusory victory, but redoubling our efforts to block this lethal energy scheme. TransCanada’s CEO remains extremely confident the U.S. will approve Keystone XL: http://tinyurl.com/88kg2m4.

Thursday:  Spent the morning putting the finishing touches on an op-ed for The Lincoln Star Journal, and the afternoon finally writing this blog and responding to a backlog of emails and phone calls. Anyone thinking the U.S. State Department can be trusted to oversee new studies on Keystone XL needs to think again. Friends of the Earth has unearthed new documents raising new concerns about State Department collusion with TransCanada, as well as a possible cover-up: http://tinyurl.com/72aahqo.

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