Sierra Club Turns to Civil Disobedience to Stop Keystone Pipeline

Director Michael Brune on his historic decision for the enviro group.

Rainforest Action Network/Flickr

Earlier this week, the Sierra Club announced that it is lifting its long-standing institutional prohibition on civil disobedience so that it can protest the development of the tar sands. The club’s board of directors approved the change, which executive director Michael Brune made public on Tuesday. While staff and board members have previously participated in acts of civil disobedience in a personal capacity, this is the first time that the organization will take part.

The group has been mum on exactly what sort of civil disobedience it is planning. It is cosponsoring an anti-Keystone XL rally on the National Mall on February 17 with 350.org and the Hip-Hop Caucus, but says that the civil disobedience will be a separate event.

I caught up with Brune on Thursday to talk about what this means for the 120-year-old environmental organization.

Mother Jones: So is this only allowing civil disobedience related to the tar sands, or does it open it up the possibility to use it for other issues as well?

Michael Brune: Right now the board has authorized us to do this singular action on tar sands and climate. It will have a broad frame of wanting the president to be as muscular in his approach to fighting climate change as he can, with a particular focus on the tar sands pipeline.

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