HOUSTON – More than 100 blockaders stormed the lobby of TransCanada’s Keystone XL office in Houston this morning. Protesters danced, spilled black ‘tar sands’ balloons and hung neon orange hazard tape to highlight the deadly effects of TransCanada’s corporate greed on communities and ecosystems.
After being forced out of the lobby by police, the protesters gathered on the sidewalk and performed street theatre in which a “pipe dragon” puppet destroyed homes and poisoned water until being slain by knights representing the grassroots coalition of Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More, Earth First and others.
Today’s action was the largest yet in the months-long campaign by climate justice organizers and Texas landowners against the pipeline and the first mass action in Houston targeting TransCanada corporate offices directly. It kicks off a new phase of Blockade organizing, targeting the corporate, political and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline with solidarity actions planned across the country this week, including in Austin, Detroit and New York City.
Activist collective Anonymous today released the personal information of TransCanada executives and Keystone XL’s financial backers in solidarity with the launch of the Blockade’s new strategy phase. Protesters are currently chained together and actively occupying TransCanada’s offices near Boston.
“From the Texas backwoods to the corporate boardrooms, the fight to defend our homes from toxic tar sands will not be ignored,” said Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “We’re here today to directly confront the TransCanada executives who’re continuing on with business as usual while making our communities sacrifice zones.”
Last Thursday, a tree blockade near Diboll, TX brought TransCanada’s illegal practices to light, showing that they hadn’t received permission from the county commissioner to build the pipeline through county land.
In addition to land and water concerns, the Keystone XL pipeline is a classic case of environmental racism. In Houston, the low-income neighborhoods near refineries, such as Manchester, whose residents are 90% Latino, will have to breathe the noxious wastes of the tar sands refining process.
“We’ve done everything we can to stop this pipeline: we’ve petitioned, rallied and taken direct action. The historic resistance to this pipeline shows how risky an investment this and other tar sands pipelines have become,” said Alec Johnson, one of the office blockaders. “Tar sands oil spilling into our waterways and millions of tons of carbon pollution spilling into the atmosphere means that this industry’s days are numbered.”
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