Roughly 100 young climate activists and their allies are rallying—with about 20 risking arrest through civil disobedience—outside the Washington, D.C. home of Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to halt the "scandal" of tar sands expansion in the U.S.
Organized by Midwest Unrest—a group of students and recent graduates organizing young people across the Midwest against tar sands—the protest aims to call attention to a "backroom deal" between the State Department and Canadian oil company Enbridge that is allowing a massive expansion of its Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline to proceed without going through the legally required environmental review process.
"This illegal deal zigzags the oil across the international border on a different pipeline," explains the call to action, "so the tar sands can start flowing at capacities similar to Keystone XL before anyone has ever studied the environmental and social impacts."
Environmental and Indigenous groups are fighting the scheme in federal court, but Midwest Unrest, which is supported by groups including 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Oil Change International, says Kerry "has the power to put a stop to this scandal at any time."
Tuesday's action raises the stakes, and the pressure, on Kerry's State Department. Those who planned to be arrested locked themselves together on Kerry's doorstep.
"For two years we have sent petitions, called the White House, and brought thousands of people to rally against this scandal, but Secretary Kerry has still not responded or done anything to stop it," said Kendall Mackey, national tar sands campaign manager with Energy Action Coalition and one of the main organizers of the event. "With our communities and our future on the line, we have no choice but to bring our message right to Secretary Kerry’s front door to expose this dangerous and illegal scheme and urge him to put a stop to the Alberta Clipper pipeline."
— Energy Action (@energyaction) August 25, 2015
The demonstration is taking place even as the nation's first tar sands mine is set to begin operating this fall in eastern Utah.