A family from Gage County, Nebraska joined thousands of others in 2014 to send a message to then-President Obama to halt the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Today, Trump faces resistance from diverse sources as he works to reverse progress towards an alternative energy future.
It’s been a head-spinning few weeks for the environmental movement. Oil now flows through the Dakota Access Pipeline. The previously vanquished Keystone XL pipeline has officially been resurrected. And with another flourish of his pen, President Trump issued a March 28 executive order that rolls back a decade’s worth of climate policy, eviscerating the Clean Power Plan and opening federal lands to mining and drilling.
Yet people who care about the environment and who believe in the science of climate change are not stopping to wring their hands in despair. Leaders of the environmental movement are taking the fight to the administration on a number of fronts, and there’s much that you can do.
In a press call following Trump’s granting of a permit for Keystone XL, 350.org founder Bill McKibben stressed that momentum has decidedly shifted towards clean energy. Global oil prices have fallen dramatically since the pipeline was commissioned in 2010, and there are now more jobs in solar energy than in oil and natural gas extraction, while job growth in solar is twelve times faster than overall job creation.
People on the front lines of the battles over oil and gas pipelines are hopeful that dwindling financial incentive after a prolonged battle could spell the Keystone pipeline’s death—for good this time.
To this end, environmental groups see the biggest opening in Nebraska, where the state’s Public Service Commission has not approved any of the three possible routes proposed by TransCanada, the corporation behind the project. The process is expected to take at least a year. Groups such as Bold Nebraska are persistently lobbying the five-member board, and more than 100 people have filed complaints. The pipeline would cross the Yellowstone River, as well as the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in the country.
Environmental activists are also taking the fight to court: A coalition of groups including the Sierra Club and five others are suing the Trump Administration over the mega project, arguing that the permit for the pipeline was granted based on outdated information. The Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance have a separate lawsuit, and more legal challenges are expected as Nebraska’s review process gets underway.
Linda Anderson, state director of Bold Nebraska, told The Progressive that anyone wanting to help stop Keystone XL, wherever they are, should email or mail letters to the Nebraska’s Public Service Commission. And Bold Nebraska has a page where comments can be posted. She also recommends holding “informative get togethers or house parties,” as well as disseminating fact sheets, like this one.
Dakota Access Pipeline
Though oil now flows through the Dakota Access Pipeline, the #DefundDAPLmovement continues. Activists scored fresh victories in mid-March, when one of Norway’s largest pension funds decided to pull its investments from DAPL-supporting companies, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to divest from financial institutions bankrolling the project. Divestment campaigns at the municipal level had already succeeded in Seattle and the cities of Davis and Santa Monica in California, and across the globe efforts are ongoing.
Organizers in Seattle, the first city to divest, did it by packing city council meetings, testifying at public hearings, protesting outside local bank branches, and holding house parties in which they called council members. To help activists looking to do the same in their own backyard, the Seattle activists came up with a playbook laying out a step-by-step strategy. Or consult this guide to divestment.
On a more micro level, individuals can cut their ties to entities bankrolling DAPL, shifting assets to a credit union or small community bank. Food & Water Watch has a full list of the seventeen financial institutions behind the pipeline.
Take it to the streets. The People’s Climate March is set to take place in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country on April 29, led by a coalition of environmental, labor, social justice, and faith groups. The first People’s Climate March in 2014 brought more than 400,000 demonstrators to New York City ahead of the Paris Climate Summit.
A week before the People’s Climate March, on April 22, hundreds of thousands of members of the scientific community are expected to demonstrate in the nation’s capital and more than 400 cities across the country, in what's being billed the March for Science in Washington. Researchers are concerned by the President’s proposed funding cuts to science agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the administration’s blatant denial of climate change.
Here are some of the key groups in the battle to come: