Front Line Pics & Dispatch: Boston Area College Students Lock And Glue Themselves Inside TransCanada Office To Protest Keystone XL

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UPDATE 5:45 PM: The group of eight activists has been removed from TransCanada offices and taken to Westborough Police Station. Spokespeople for the group say they are unaware of the charges at this time. The group is mostly still chained together with one or two of the chains broken by the authorities. We'll update this post with details as they become available.  

Note: at time of this posting - 5:35pm EST - we have been told that the activists are still inside the building...

Westborough, MA – A group of eight college students from a range of area schools chained and glued themselves inside the TransCanada offices at the Westboro Executive Park today. The group entered the building off of Route 9 in packs of two and three just after 2pm. They then marched up to the energy behemoth's third floor office, sat in a circular formation with their backs touching, and began to click-in. By 2:10, crew members were fully chained and glued to one another, with fast-drying adhesive dripping from their hands and their bike locks.

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These aren't nameless activists. Hailing from Brandeis, Tufts, Harvard, the University of New Hampshire, and Boston University, they launched a web site in tandem with today's action, complete with names and bios. While they say that they acted as an autonomous outfit today, the individuals are aligned with climate action networks including and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Today's civil disobedience was also done in solidarity with protesters in Houston, among other places. Reports out of Texas show that journalists as well as demonstrators have been arrested at TransCanada offices there.

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In Massachusetts, the Westborough sit-in is the first of its kind in protest of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. According to a TransCanada employee who responded to the action, the TransCanada office in Massachusetts is not involved in that particular project (the company's business in New England is mostly in hydropower). Nonetheless, students from today's action say they're raising awareness about dirty oil development everywhere, including in New England. Specifically, the glue-in is an advertisement for upcoming Tar Sands Free Northeast events on January 23 and 26. From the press release:

This week’s protests also foreshadow a cascade of actions planned against the tar sands for early 2013. A coalition of activists known as Tar Sands Free Northeast are preparing for actions on January 23rd and 26th to block a plan to transport tar sands oil through New England. Canadian activists with the Idle No More movement have protested the Keystone XL pipeline while has announced a 20,000 person rally against KXL to be held on February 17th at the White House . . .

The activities of corporations like TransCanada threaten the future of my entire generation,” said Benjamin Trolio, a senior studying at the University of New Hampshire. “We need our political leaders to do their job by standing up for us and taking action to solve the climate crisis. They can start by drawing a clear line in the sand and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The Keystone XL pipeline is an export pipeline proposed by TransCanada to carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta across the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline has been the subject of intense national controversy since its proposal in 2008. It has been widely protested for the risks it poses to the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water for 2 million people, as well as for its potential to dramatically worsen global warming by facilitating the extraction and burning of the tar sands.

The Phoenix will be covering the aforementioned demonstrations, as well as the massive rally planned for President's Day in DC. Furthermore, in a magazine feature to be released soon, we'll take you through the month-long planning process that led up to today's peaceful standoff in Westborough. This is crunch time in the fight against fossil fuels, with recent news out of Nebraska setting back the environmentalist cause, and President Barack Obama expected to make his decision soon. In Mass, there's also an added new dimension with Senator John Kerry; if approved as Secretary of State, he'll have to weigh in on the XL pipeline. We'll be watching...

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