“This land was made for you and me.” -- Pete Seeger

Welcome to issue #2 of the “No Tar Sands” Newsletter!


350SV “No Tar Sands” News: In this issue we bring you up-to-date with 350 Silicon Valley “No Tar Sands” team activities and campaigns including vigils, civil disobedience training, and the launch of our comment drive to the State Department on KXL. Read more...

Feature Video: Bill Moyers interviews 350.org’s Bill McKibben. If you have 27 minutes, you won’t want to miss this. Read more...

Our Top Ten:  With the overwhelming number of articles that have appeared since the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement appeared on January 31, it can be challenging to stay current with the latest Keystone XL tar sands pipeline news. To help you save time, we evaluated nearly eighty articles then selected the ten that we felt were the most informative.  We include summaries and links for our top five. Readers who want to dig deeper will find five more articles with links but no summaries. Read more...

Did You Know? Although most of the articles we read didn’t make the top ten, many contained nuggets of information too good to pass up.  We’ve included our favorites here. Read more...

“Global Warming 101” primer:  For those of you who have ever been asked “What does 350 stand for?” we are including a “Global Warming 101” primer. This feature is designed for your relatives, friends and colleagues who may not be as well informed about climate issues as you.  We encourage you to share this section with them. It should answer many of their questions and might even inspire them to become involved themselves. Read more...

The Time Has Come: Many of you have already seen Deborah Levoy’s new YouTube video, “The Time Has Come.” If you have, we know you’ll enjoy viewing it again. If not, you’re in for a treat. It will inspire you and leave you feeling good about being a member of the climate community. Read more...

Questionnaire: We finish the issue with a link to a short survey. To help us better serve you in future editions, we encourage you to take a minute to fill it out. Read more...

                                                             Kathy Pimentel and Stew Plock, Editors

                                                               Pierre Delforge, 350SV “No Tar Sands” Team Coordinator





The State Department is seeking public comments on whether the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is in the United States national interest. Our best chance to get the pipeline rejected or further delayed is to flood the State Department with comments. The No Tar Sands team has set a goal of helping 350 SV members, Silicon Valley residents and their friends and contacts send at least 500 letters and comments to the State Department by the March 7 deadline.

We will be holding letter writing events at our general meeting, at the Unitarian Universalist Churches in Palo Alto and San Jose, at a sign-painting party and at various other gatherings. We also urge all 350 Silicon Valley members to ask 20 friends and family members to send a comment.  We know this isn’t always an easy thing to do, and we would not ask it of you if it weren’t so important. 

If you are not attending one of our events and will be writing a letter on your own, click here to view a sample letter, talking points, and other suggestions on how to comment. Handwritten letters and envelopes are more effective than form letters, which are better than online signatures. If you don’t have the time to write your own letter, click here for a form letter you can print and sign. Address your letter to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Just one more thing: to help us see if we are meeting our goal of 500 comments, click here and let us know that you have mailed your letter.


Great Turnout for Anti-Keystone XL Vigils

On Monday evening, February 3rd, 2014, in Silicon Valley, rallies were held in both Palo Alto and in San Jose. 150 concerned citizens turned out for the candlelight vigil in Palo Alto and over 70 in San Jose. The peaceful gatherings were held to underscore our united opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and to call on President Obama to reject this project once and for all. Check out some cool photos courtesy of Bijan at: www.350SiliconValley.org



Third Civil Disobedience Training a Big Success

Not even the Super bowl could keep anti-Keystone  XL pipeline activists away! On Sunday, February 2nd, an additional 23 people, our largest group, attended a civil disobedience class. “More than 50 Silicon Valley 350.org individuals are now trained and prepared to block one of the entrances to the Federal Building in San Jose.  We are determined to let President Obama know how important it is for him to deny the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” says KXL activist Andrew Bear.

350SV General Meeting – March 2nd

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 2nd for a 350 Silicon Valley general meeting where you will learn about how you can become more involved in 350.org local projects, especially in the effort to stop the Keystone pipeline.

Time: 2-4PM. Location: San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 South 11th Street, San Jose 95112.
RSVP here




Bill Moyers Interviews 350.org’s Bill McKibben:

In this outstanding 27 minute video, veteran journalist Bill Moyers interviews Bill McKibben, an environmental activist who has dedicated his life to saving the planet from climate chaos. Bill McKibben talks about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and his hopes that public pressure will lead the Obama administration to stand up to Big Oil. “Most people understand that we’re in a serious fix,” McKibben tells Moyers, “There’s nothing you can do as individuals that will really slow down this juggernaut … You can say the same thing about the challenges faced by people in the civil rights or the abolition movement, or the gay rights movement or the women’s movement. In each case, a movement arose; if we can build a movement, then we have a chance.”   Watch the video here: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21764-bill-mckibben-to-obama-say-no-to-big-oil




Recommended Articles with Summaries and Links: 

Youth Plan Massive Civil Disobedience to Protest KXL (The Nation)

With President Obama on the cusp of a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, on March 2, hundreds of students and young people are expected to risk arrest in an act of civil disobedience at the White House to pressure him to reject the project. The sit-in is expected to be the largest act of civil disobedience by young people in the recent history of the environmental movement and it will be led by the very same demographic that helped propel Obama to the presidency. The protest, known as "XL Dissent," is meant to send a clear signal to President Obama that the base that helped elect him sees Keystone XL as a decision that will define his entire legacy.

Read the entire article here
: http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/271-38/21946-youth-plan-mass-civil-disobedience-to-protest-keystone-xl

Keystone: The Pipeline to Disaster (Sachs Earth Institute)

The State Department Environmental Impact Statement doesn't even ask the right question: “How do the unconventional Canadian oil sands fit or not fit within the overall carbon budget?”  Nor does it raise the possibility that the pipeline should be stopped in order to keep a lid on the total amount of unconventional fossil fuels burned around the world. Instead, the State Department simply assumes, without any irony or evident self-awareness, that the oil sands will be developed and used one way or another. The big question for them seems to be whether the oil will be shipped by pipeline or by rail, not if it should be kept in the ground.

Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/keystone-the-pipeline-to_b_4716229.html

Final Environmental Review for Keystone Pipeline Acknowledges Significant Climate Impact (EnergyCollective) 

In another article about the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, the State Department acknowledges for the first time that the KXL would accelerate climate change, adding the equivalent tailpipe emissions of 5.7 million new cars to the road. The report states that there is already compelling evidence that approval of Keystone XL would expand the tar sands industry and cause unacceptable climate impacts. This is a significant change to previous State Department analyses which have failed to acknowledge the role of the pipeline in facilitating tar sands expansion. 

Read the entire article here:

Approving KXL Could Be Biggest Mistake of Obama's Presidency  (The Guardian)

“As the world moves closer to 2015 and the establishment of legally binding emissions targets, it is looking to the US for inspiration and leadership. While opponents of carbon regulations routinely point to China and India as an excuse for further inaction, the US is still the dominant force in world politics. If Obama puts his foot down and tells us the pipeline will not be built, he will be telling the world that the United States is committed to a future powered by clean renewable energy. For better or for worse, as the US goes so goes the planet.”

Read the entire article here:

Obama Is Still Likely To Nix Keystone Pipeline, But That's Not Bad For Oil Industry (Forbes)

Despite the KXL’s merits — or lack of them, depending on your viewpoint — Obama is unlikely to move forward on approving the XL pipeline. He has said that if construction of the 1,600 mile line would lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions than otherwise, he would deny the permit. And even though the State Department has written that this would not be the case, the president is indebted to the environmental movement, owing nothing politically to an oil industry that tried twice to defeat him.

Read the entire article here:


Additional  Articles: 

State Department Keystone XL Greenlight? (Montana Public Radio) http://mtpr.org/post/us-state-department-greenlight-keystone-pipeline

More Tar Sands and Fracked Oil Headed for East Bay/EastBayExpress http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/more-tar-sands-and-fracked-oil-headed-for-east-bay/Content?oid=3830079

Mining Tar Sands Produces Much More Air Pollution Than We Thought/Smithsonian

Bill McKibben on Fight Against Keystone XL, Fossil Fuel Divestment and Obama's Failures on Climate – an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.  http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/13/bill_mckibben_on_fight_against_keystone

Keystone XL Faces Epic Opposition from Native American Alliance/APTN News. aptn.ca/news/2014/01/31/keystone-xl-black-snake-pipeline-face-epic-opposition-native-american-alliance/




…According to the UN Environment Program, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life with 150-200 species of plants, birds and mammals becoming extinct every 24 hours. This is a rate not experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago.

…the last time CO2 was this high, humans didn’t exist.

… if currently planned actions are not fully implemented, a warming of 4 degrees C could occur as early as the 2060s. A further warming to levels over 6 degrees would likely occur over the following centuries.

…President Obama said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”  We will see.

 … the State Department reported that the surge in pollution due to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be similar to putting up to 5.7 million extra cars on the road.

… the KXL is designed to promote exports of Canadian tar sands oil and its refined products to non-US markets, especially China and Latin America.

…On February 16, 2014, in a speech in Indonesia, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that global warming is as big a threat as terrorism.

. . . President Obama is trying to get Europe to relax its anti-global warming standards to permit importation of tar sands oil –the world’s absolute worst oil from the global warming standpoint.



GLOBAL WARMING 101 — Questions and Answers

If you have questions about global warming and the numbers and acronyms so often associated with it, we may have answers for you in the following Q and A.

What does the 350 in 350.org and 350 Silicon Valley stand for? 

350.org has said that 350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet.  350 stands for the number of molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2) for every million molecules of air. 350 parts per million (ppm) is what scientists and climate experts are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Where are we now? 

For the last 10,000 years our atmosphere contained 275 ppm CO2. CO2 is very important, it warms our planet. 275 ppm is a good amount of CO2 – not too hot, not too cold. It was this stable atmosphere that allowed humans to flourish, develop agriculture and expand our societies. Then 200 years ago we began to burn coal and oil for energy, taking millions of years’ worth of carbon, once stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere as CO2.  In May 2013, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million, probably for the first time in more than 3 million years of Earth history. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to rise at about 2ppm every year. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, global warming will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

How much can the earth warm up and still be safe?

2°C or about 3.6°F was the amount agreed upon during the 2009 Copenhagen Accord as a limit for global temperature rise. Almost every government has agreed that warming above 2°C is too high risk for our society. We have already burned enough fossil fuels to raise the temperature by around 1°C causing far more damage than most scientists expected.

What is the maximum amount of CO2 we can add and still stay under 2°C?

In order to stay below a 2°C increase, scientists have estimated that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. At present emission rates, (31 gigatons globally in 2011 and rising) 565 gigatons will be reached by 2028. Fossil-fuel companies currently have about 2,795 gigatons of carbon already contained in their proven coal and oil and gas reserves, and that is the amount of fossil fuels they are currently planning to burn.  2,795 gigatons is five times higher than the limit of 565 gigatons that would keep Earth under a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, to stay below a 2°C, we need to keep 80% of the reserves in the ground.

Do scientists agree that humans are causing global warming? 

Yes, in a recent study by the Institute of Physics, out of the 4000-some scientific papers written since 1991 on climate change and global warming, 97% of the papers support the finding that humans are causing this spike in warming.  Many, if not most, of the scientists not accepting the reality of climate change work for or are somehow supported by the fossil fuel industry.

What is the Keystone XL pipeline?

The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed pipeline that would complete an already existing pipeline network running from Canada’s Boreal forest 2,000 miles to the US gulf coast, carrying roughly 830,000 barrels of tar sands crude per day.

Why are so many environmental groups opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline? 

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport toxic tar sands crude, one of the dirtiest, most polluting forms of oil over the coming decades. Tar sands oil is not only difficult, costly and energy-intensive to produce but also dirtier and more corrosive than conventional oil. Leaks and spills threaten rivers, aquifers and communities all along the route. Most important of all, 350.org and a host of environmental groups tell us that to prevent a global warming disaster; we have to wean ourselves from fossil fuel dependence in the coming 20 to 40 years. We simply cannot go on drilling, excavating, and burning every ton of coal, oil and gas the fossil fuel industry finds. The world needs to “strand” some of its fossil fuel reserves by leaving them in the ground. We must develop low-carbon alternatives including nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power.

What’s the current status of the pipeline?

The State Department released a supplemental environmental impact report (SEIS) on January 31 initiating a 30-day public comment period which will end March 7. Sixty days later, the White House will issue a draft “National Interest Determination.” If the draft finds the Keystone XL beneficial to national interests, a coalition of groups including Rainforest Action Network and Credo Action are planning a series of nonviolent sit-ins. More than 77,000 people have pledged on-line to resist the pipeline. 350 Silicon Valley is collaborating with Credo, and many of its members have taken the pledge and have participated in non-violent civil disobedience training.

If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, how will that affect me directly?

It will affect us all. As Tom Engelhardt, an American writer and editor, has put it so bluntly, “if carbon emissions from fossil fuels are allowed to accumulate in the atmosphere … we could, at the worst, essentially burn ourselves off Planet Earth. This would prove a passing event for the planet itself, but not for us, nor for any fragment of humanity that manages to survive in some degraded form, nor for the civilizations we’ve developed over thousands of years.”

It all sounds very discouraging.  Are there any solutions?

Absolutely! “All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.”  --350.org

What can I do?

One way would be to join your local 350 group and take action.  Groups in our area are: 350 Bay Area, 350 Silicon Valley, 350 San Francisco, 350 Marin, 350 Sonoma, and 350 Santa Cruz.  You can find out more about the No Tar Sands campaign and the Keystone XL pipeline by reading the articles we’ve included above in the No Tar Sands Newsletter, and most importantly, you can pass the word by talking to your friends, family and colleagues.  Human actions can still make a huge difference in how much warming the world experiences over the next 100 years. Way too much climate change is already “baked” into the system due to the carbon dioxide emissions already in the atmosphere, but we can make it worse or we can reverse course and keep it from getting truly apocalyptic. What humanity does over the next 10 or 20 years matters: it can be bad or it can be catastrophic – that is our choice. We can make a difference.




Deborah Levoy, one of 350 Silicon Valley’s many active volunteers, has a terrific and timely video on YouTube, “The Time Has come.” Check it out. We think you will be inspired.




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