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5 Climate Activists Shut Down 5 Tar Sands Pipelines

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The five climate activists that shut down tar sands pipelines today include: (L-R) Emily Johnson, Annette Klapstein, Leonard Higgins, Michael Foster and Ken Ward. / Shut It Down

Activists successfully shut down five pipelines today across the U.S. that deliver tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada. The pipelines targeted were Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada's Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy's Express pipeline at Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder-Morgan's Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington. "We did this in response to Standing Rock's call to action for escalated actions," a spokesperson for #ShutItDown told EcoWatch.


In an online statement by #ShutItDown, the group said:

"This morning, by 7:30 PST, 5 activists have successfully shut down 5 pipelines across the United States delivering tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada in support of the call for International Days of Prayer and Action for Standing Rock. Activists employed manual safety valves, calling on President Obama to use emergency powers to keep the pipelines closed and mobilize for the extraordinary shift away from fossil fuels now required to avert catastrophe."

Since then, EcoWatch has learned that police have approached two sites so far and two women have been arrested in Minnesota. The two are Emily Johnston, 50, and retired attorney Annette Klapstein, 64.

"For years we've tried the legal, incremental, reasonable methods, and they haven't been enough; without a radical shift in our relationship to Earth, all that we love will disappear," Johnston said. "My fear of that possibility is far greater than my fear of jail. My love for the beauties of this world is far greater than my love of an easy life."

Only one activist is at each site, accompanied by a support person and video crew. The groups have been posting and live-streaming on Facebook. In Montana, Leonard Higgins, 64, shut the valve on a pipeline that carries oil south from Canada.

"We're in a state of emergency to protect our loved ones and our families, our communities," Higgins said as he was filmed at the pipeline.

"Today's action is a bold step forward for a movement that refuses to back down from challenge of the climate crisis," Tim DeChristopher wrote in an email to EcoWatch. DeChristopher spent 21 months in a federal prison for posing as a fake bidder at a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008. He has since founded the Climate Disobedience Center and is attending Harvard Divinity School.

"While our political leadership fails to take climate change seriously, activists are stepping up," DeChristopher added. "The climate crisis continues to intensify, and so does our movement."

Police were also onsite with Ken Ward, 59, one of the founders of the Climate Disobedience Center and #ShutItDown, and have arrested him in Washington at the Kinder-Morgan pipeline. Each protestor plans to stay until they are removed, the organization told us.

"Like mothers everywhere, I act from a deep love that extends to all children and young people, and all living beings on this planet," Klapstein said. "I have signed hundreds of petitions, testified at dozens of hearings, met with most of my political representatives at every level, to very little avail. I have come to believe that our current economic and political system is a death sentence to life on earth, and that I must do everything in my power to replace these systems with cooperative, just, equitable and love-centered ways of living together. This is my act of love."

UPDATE: EcoWatch has learned that all five activists and four support crew have now been arrested.

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