How big a deal is Keystone?
Handcuffed next to me was Mike Brune, head of the Sierra Club, which today broke its 120-year ban on civil disobedience. That's how important Keystone is.
Directly across from me, also with his hands behind his back for a couple of hours, was Julian Bond, who was first arrested in 1960 integrating Atlanta lunch counters. Bond was last arrested in the 1980s protesting outside the South African embassy. That's how important Keystone is.
Bobby Kennedy Jr. was one paddywagon ahead, with his son Conor. "I'm an officer of the court and I'm not supposed to get arrested, but this is too vital a question." That's how important Keystone is.
It was a remarkable day of civil disobedience outside the White House. The police severely limited the number of people that could take part, but the crew included Nebraska ranchers, Texas farmers, Native activists, people from frontline communities who have already suffered or been damaged by tar sands refineries. There was a former poet laureate of the United States (Robt Haas) and a movie star (Daryl Hannah), and the planet's premier climate scientist (James Hansen), and three dozen more remarkable human beings--business leaders, engineers, writers, campaigners. It was beautiful.
And even more beautiful because everyone knew it was just the prelude to Sunday's massive rally on the mall.
And even more beautiful yet because, with the massive press coverage, it felt like we were getting across the central message: This is President Obama's real chance to show he cares about the climate.
If he blocks Keystone, he'll be the first world leader to block a big project because it would wreck the climate. We've got to start somewhere, and this is where the environmental movement has drawn the line in the sand. See you Sunday!