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Robert Redford Urges You to Join the Keystone XL Protest

Energy
Robert Redford Urges You to Join the Keystone XL Protest

Tar Sands Action

Actor Robert Redford released a video Oct. 31 inviting people to surround the White House this Nov. 6 to push President Barack Obama to deny a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Thousands are expected to join the White House protest, scheduled exactly one year before the 2012 election.

In the video, Redford said, "On Nov. 6, thousands will gather outside the White House. Together, in a show of solidarity the crowd will encircle the People’s House. The crowd will show the president that if he stands up to big oil like he promised to do, he will have the people’s support. Now is the time for the president to show true leadership and help to move the country off of oil. We have better energy choices.”

Redford has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700 mile project that would carry toxic tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Actors Mark Ruffalo and David Strathairn have also released videos endorsing the Nov. 6 demonstration. Actors Daryl Hannah and Omar Metwally were arrested with over 1,250 others at the White House this August during a two-week sit-in against the pipeline.

“This has become the biggest environmental flashpoint in many years,” said author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading protests against the pipeline with the group TarSandsAction.org. “We can’t literally occupy the White House, so the next best thing is to surround it.”

Over the last two months, pipeline protestors have followed the president to nearly every public campaign stop. Groups of 50-100 volunteers are also visiting Obama for America offices in key swing-states to tell the campaign they won’t donate or volunteer for the president unless he stops the pipeline. Major donors are also threatening to drop their support if the project goes through. The Nov. 6 protest is supported by nearly every major environmental group in the country, a number of unions, youth coalitions and indigenous leaders.

“We’ve looked on Google Maps and we think we’ll have enough people to completely surround the property,” said Jamie Henn, a spokesperson with TarSandsAction.org. “We’re not interested in levitating the White House, but we are going to see if we can resurrect the Barack Obama that ran in 2008 and pledged to end the tyranny of oil.”

Right now, the pipeline permit determination process is in its final stages. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to comment soon on the State Department’s final Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline. Once each agency has commented on the report, the State Department will issue or deny the pipeline permit on behalf of the president. Agencies then have 15 days to object to the State Department’s conclusion and send the decision directly to the White House. The State Department had indicated that it expected to make a final decision on the pipeline permit by the end of the year, but an official recently told Reuters that the decision might be delayed.

President Obama responded to pipeline protestors in Denver last week, saying, “No decision’s been made and I know your deep concern about it, so we will address it.”

Robert Redford’s video can be found here, and was co-produced with the Natural Resource Defense Council.

For more information, click here.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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