Activists Plan White House Civil Disobedience to Pressure Obama on Climate

Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline demonstrate in front of the White House in August, 2011. On Wednesday, activists vow to continue and escalate their opposition to the pipeline with new direct actions. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Saying they’re not attacking or protesting against the Obama administration but rather applying the necessary pressure the president himself has asked for, climate activists and environmental groups will descend on the White House today to demand an end to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

For the first time in its 120-year history, the Sierra Club will participate in this civil disobedience action to convey the severity and urgency of action on climate. Joining them will be representatives from other groups including, Tar Sands Blockade and the Hip Hop Caucus, and individual activists like civil rights activist Julian Bond, actress Daryl Hannah, Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson and others on the frontlines of the climate justice movement.

Those involved released a group statement which said their purpose was “to show the depth of our resolve that President Obama take immediate, decisive action against climate change.”

“If the president leads,” they continued, “the vast majority of Americans will rally behind him. We’re not here today to protest the president, we are here to encourage and support him. We lived through horrors of Superstorm Sandy, the Midwest drought, wildfires, and the hottest year on record: we know in our bones that the time has come to do more than we have, and all that we can.”, which has staged protest rallies and civil resistance actions outside the White House before, says Wednesday’s events are both a continuation of their previous efforts and an escalation they plan to sustain as Obama begins his second term in earnest following his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

As Bill McKibben, co-founder and chief spokesperson for the group, tweeted Wednesday morning:


Those participating will gather in Lafayette in the mid-morning for a small rally and press conference before heading across the street for what they term “civil disobedience” at the East Gate of the White House just before noon.

“Civil disobedience is the response of ordinary people to extraordinary injustices,” they said. “Americans have righted the wrongs of our society — slavery, child labor, suffrage, segregation, and inequality for gays and immigrant workers — with creative nonviolent resistance. Climate change threatens the health and security of all Americans, and action proportional to the problem is required–now.”

“Today we risk arrest because a global crisis unfolds before our eyes. We have the solutions to this climate crisis. We have a moral obligation to stand stand for immediate, bold action to solve climate disruption. We can do it, and we will.”

Wednesday’s action is seen as a small but dramatic preface for a rally scheduled for Sunday that organizers say will bring many thousands of activists from all over the country to the White House gates to ask Obama to move “forward on climate”.