Mass demonstrations welcomed President Obama to the Bay Area on Wednesday and sent him a clear message on the Keystone XL Pipeline: Just Say No!

More than 1,000 protesters greeted him when he arrived in San Francisco's well-heeled Pacific Heights neighborhood at the home of Tom Speyer, former hedge fund manager turned environmental campaigner to host a $5,000-per-person cocktail hour followed by a $32,500-per-plate dinner fundraiser at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Organized by CREDO Action in conjunction with environmental organizations such as, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Idle No More, Rising Tide SF, and the Sierra Club, and other groups, the demonstration was part of a rising national movement that plans to dog the president and keep pressure on him not to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The protest forms part of a rising national movement that plans to dog the president and keep pressure on him not to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"The climate crisis should confront President Obama anywhere he goes," says Rose Braz, campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Protests in Bay Area send President Obama clear message on Keystone XL Pipeline
Protests in Bay Area send President Obama clear message on Keystone XL Pipeline: NO! Photo by CREDO.

In February, more than 40,000 persons rallied in Washington, D.C., to urge the President to vote against the new 875-mile long pipeline, which would transport oil from the U.S.-Canadian border through Montana and South Dakota to connect with an existing pipeline near Steele City, Nebraska, for onward delivery to refineries in Texas. It would run over the Ogallala Aquifer, which extends from South Dakota to northern Texas and provides fresh drinking water to millions in the Midwest. The pipeline would also threaten endangered area wildlife, including western prairie fringed orchids. whooping cranes, piping plovers, Arkansas River shiners, pallid sturgeon, American burrowing beetles and woodland caribou.

On March 19, the U.S. Senate voted 62-37 to pass the pipeline. But the vote is largely symbolic. The fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline lies with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who have ultimate say in its future.

Last Friday, the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, and has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a "major spill," dumped vast quantities of oil in neighborhoods and made clear the risks associated with a tar sands pipeline.

"This latest toxic mess is just another reminder that oil companies cannot be trusted to transport toxic tar sands crude through Americans' backyards, farmlands and watersheds," said Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club. "It's not a matter of if spills will occur on dangerous pipelines like the Keystone XL, but rather, when -- and at what cost to Americans."

As Emma Pullman at DeSmogBlog lays out in an infographic, the Keystone XL Pipeline predicted it would leak once every seven years. Yet since it began operation in June 2010, it has leaked 14 times.

"We are here to urge President Obama to cancel this project," Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth senior campaigner with the group's climate and energy program, said. "There has been so much propaganda about this pipeline, that it is going to lead to U.S. oil independence and create all these jobs. But the State Department itself thinks it will create only 35 permanent jobs. It is going to unlock an enormous carbon bomb."

As Bill McKibben, co-founder of, told me, "the President needs to constantly be reminded that Americans, unlike oil executives, are ready to back him if he'll be the first world leader to say no to a big project on climate grounds."

Action Alert:

CREDO recently launched a call to activists to pledge to risk arrest in an act of civil disobedience if President Obama moves forward with a plan to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Over 53,000 people have signed the pledge. is calling for people to take action and to submit comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released on March 1, 2013.

A public meeting is also scheduled for Thursday, April 18, 12:00 - 3:30 pm and 4:00 - 8:00 pm at the Heartland Events Center, 700 East Stolley Park Road, Grand Island, Nebraska.

The State Department is accepting public comments on the new proposal until April 22: and also

Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers energy policy, climate negotiations and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and The Washington Monthly.



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The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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