Keystone Terrorists

My freedom is perhaps the single most cherished aspect of my life.  Certainly, freedom from the tyranny of government, but also little freedoms, like the ability to work for myself, freelance, pick meaningful content on which I wish to work, and the freedom to set my own schedule.  I like freedom from a boss, especially a bad one!  Grant you, it’s scary rustling up one job after the next and never being certain about your next job or paycheck.  But, for all my fears, I’ll take less security for more freedom, any day!

Not everyone feels this way.  The problem is that the bargain does not go the other way.  You cannot trade your freedom for more security.  Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Back in 2001, one of the many things I was furious at my government about was the Patriot Act. I saw an administration capitalizing on people’s fears in a power grab. This week, after Edward Snowden’s shocking revelation of NSA’s dragnet surveillance, we’re a nation ferociously debating the consequences of those broad reaching powers.

What does that have to do with climate change? Here’s one way:

Keystone Pipeline Anti-Terrorism TransCanada, the company that wishes to build the remaining stretch of the Keystone Pipeline, has been prepping local US police officials to prosecute “Aggressive/Abusive landowners” under anti-terrorism laws.

Full stop.

HOLY F-ING DILBIT !!  Here were my first questions upon learning this.

  1. Who ordered the FOIA?
  2. Why such shockingly aggressive tactics by TransCanada?  Who are these “Aggressive/Abusive landowners”  (TransCanada’s words) that they wish to prosecute as terrorists?
  3. Can they do that?

Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out.

Freedom of Information Act catches TransCanada training Police


Bold Nebraska presented the Nebraska State Patrol with the FOIA.  Consequently, they were able to obtain documents as well as TransCanada’s PowerPoint presentation (no kidding) on how to  address continued civil disobedience by opponents of the pipeline.  Bold Nebraska is a grass roots, land owner advocacy organization that claims to be conservative but says:

[The] conservative voice now in our state is dominated by far-right ideas and policies that are more about protecting big business, not our families.

One slide in TransCanada's PowerPoint presentation contains images of the "Sleeping Dragon" and other nonviolent methods that protestors may use to disrupt construction of Keystone XL. Photo courtesy of Bold Nebraska.

One slide in TransCanada’s PowerPoint presentation contains images of the “Sleeping Dragon” and other nonviolent methods that protestors may use to disrupt construction of Keystone XL. Photo courtesy of Bold Nebraska.

Ah, how I long for the conservatives of yesteryear.  Anyway, this PowerPoint presentation is a lesson in preparedness.  If you click on the image to the left, don’t be disappointed that it’s not a 50 Shades of Gray  thing.  It’s a link to the full presentation TransCanada used to train the police about their precious “$50 billion” enterprise.

Flip to the section “Incident History” and it gets interesting! Yet by the companies own admission in these very slides, there has been “No physical violence to this point.”

Peaceful Protests to Keystone XL

So my short answer to question #2 above is I don’t know!  Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska says

Every meeting, rally, and action that we have done in Nebraska has been peaceful, non-violent and lawful.”

There have been no reports, allegations, charges or arrests due to protestor violence in either Texas or Oklahoma.   In Nebraska, according to TransCanada’s slides, things have been a little spicy.  Apparently one landowner said he “Longed for the days when you could shoot people on your land.”  This is no environmentalist speaking, clearly.   I have to laugh because that’s the kind of talk typically directed at environmentalists.  Instead, they’re in bed together…strange bedfellows, indeed!  Can anyone else see the comedy?  Still, there has been no actual violence.

Keystone protestors arrested as terrorists?

Is it legal?  Could protestors actually be charged under anti-terrorism laws?  Once again, referring to this extensive PowerPoint presentation for the authorities by TransCanada:

District attorneys may have more information regarding the applicability of state or federal anti-terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures. Resident FBI offices can explore federal charges with the U.S. attorney.

So far, I can’t find any examples of any environmentalists prosecuted under anti-terroism law.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.  There are certainly plenty of examples of the FBI classifying environmentalists as “terrorists” and draconian sentences, perhaps none more notorious than Tim DeChristopher.

As an undergraduate student, DeChristopher disrupted an illegal oil and gas lease auction by placing bids (when he knew he didn’t have the money). For his act of non-violent civil disobedience, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Politicians called him an “eco-terrorist.

DeChristpher was charged for violation of the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act and making false statements.

Exposing the tactics of TransCanada may have arrested them in their tracks, but it is evidence of textbook corporate tactics and a reminder to stay alert, lest they next come for you.