Handcuffs, Conventional Wisdom and Dirty Oil: Activism’s Big Win Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Handcuffs, Conventional Wisdom and Dirty Oil: Activism’s Big Win Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Session Type(s): Panel

Training Tag(s): Organizing & Movement Building, Environment

Starts: Thursday, Jun. 7 10:30 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jun. 7 11:45 AM (Eastern)

This January, against long odds, the environmental movement dealt a blow to Big Oil, forcing President Obama’s rejection of a presidential permit for the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline—the industry’s marquee project and a conduit to the continent’s biggest “carbon bomb.” The hard-fought campaign united indigenous communities, Nebraska ranchers and Texas landowners, union representatives, youth climate activists, interfaith leaders and grassroots citizen activists and breathed new life into a movement fractured and demoralized after having failed to advance meaningful climate legislation following the election of a Democratic Congress and a new president who promised to lead on clean energy and climate solutions. Panelists will discuss the lessons the environmental, climate and progressive movements can take from the KXL fight and how these movements might build on this success to continue fighting the southern leg of the pipeline expedited by the president and to reclaim our democracy from corporate polluters and gain lasting wins for a safe climate and justice-fueled future.

Watch live streaming video from fstv1 at livestream.com


Kim Huynh


Kim Huynh is the dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, where she leads FOE’s campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline and works with communities in the US and Canada to stop tar sands development. Kim has worked on a spectrum of environmental issues ranging from climate change to sustainable agriculture and corporate consolidation in our food system to fracking to biotechnologies, employing a broad spectrum of tactics including grassroots organizing, direct action, and traditional and new media. She was a part of the youth-powered direct actions team with the Avaaz Action Factory, which sought to pressure Congress and the Obama administration in the lead up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations. Outside of these campaigns, she currently organizes in the DC-area community for environmental and food justice, housing equity, and the commons.

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Brad Johnson


Brad Johnson is a climate strategist and communicator. He is the editor of Hill Heat, a climate politics and policy website. Previously Brad was the founding executive director of Climate Hawks Vote, a grassroots climate politics organization, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, a grassroots climate advocacy organization, and editor for ThinkProgress Green at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Amherst College and master’s degree in geosciences from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He is the co-author of Technomanifestos and the founder of HillHeat.com.

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Becky Bond


Becky Bond is the president of the CREDO SuperPAC and the political director of CREDO Mobile. Becky has been at the forefront of the online to offline organizing movement since she joined CREDO in 2000, combining innovative technology, rapid response, measurable results, volunteer engagement and a passionate commitment to winning progressive victories. Organizing with CREDO, Becky has grown a community of 3 million activists who take action on issues ranging from defending choice to protecting net neutrality to fighting climate change and ending unjust wars. She also led the 2004 campaign to register one million anti-war citizens as well as the “Hell NO on 23” campaign, CREDO’s victorious 2010 effort to crush Texas oil and save California’s global warming law. Becky serves on the board of the New Organizing Institute.

Other sessions: Citizens United, Super PACs and the Fight for Our Democracy

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Jane Fleming Kleeb

Jane Fleming Kleeb

Jane Kleeb is an experienced grassroots organizer, manager, political strategist and nonprofit entrepreneur. Recently profiled by PBS in a film called “Blue Wind on a Red Prairie,” Jane is a leader who deeply understands the need to connect issues that rural and urban communities are facing to politics in order to win elections in Nebraska. Jane Kleeb started her first term as the Nebraska Democratic Party Chair in December 2016.

Leading the statewide healthcare reform project called “Change That Works,” Jane brought together grassroots advocates and allied groups such as AARP and Nebraska Appleseed. While more work must be done to bring down the costs of heathcare for families, the effort was successful in helping ensure pre-esxiting conditions are a thing of the past and that all Nebraskans have access to heath care. In 2010, Kleeb founded the grassroots group Bold Nebraska leading farmers, ranchers and Native allies in an effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Jane’s organizing style earned her the title “Keystone Killer” and she was featured in the NY Time Magazine. Bold Nebraska expanded into the national Bold Alliance focusing on protecting property rights, water and the clean energy transition.

Early in her career, Kleeb became the Executive Director of the Young Democrats of America in Washington, DC. She took the reins of YDA at a time when the youth vote was on the decline. Along with an alliance of diverse groups ranging from Punk Voters to Stonewall Democrats, Jane created an innovate approach to elections that blended traditional and non-traditional methods of talking to young people at their homes and where they hang out. The youth vote hit historic highs under Kleeb’s leadership. Jane went on to be a co-founder of the DNC’s Youth Council bringing together YDA, CDA and other organizations to institutionalize youth engagement in the Democratic party.

Bringing people together in creative action is a goal of Jane’s throughout her career. She is responsible for such large actions like Reject and Protect where 12 tipis were placed on the National Mall, building a barn and various solar installations inside the proposed KXL route and hosting Nebraska’s largest advocacy concert, Harvest the Hope, in a corn field with Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Jane was one of the youngest Directors of an AmeriCorps project, worked to ensure eating disorders were included in the Mental Health Party bill and brought her communications skills to MTV as a Street Team Reporter and pundit on MSNBC and Fox News. Kleeb also served as the lead consultant on the award-winning HBO film “Thin” profiling families in the recovery process.

Serving in public office as both a Commissioner for National and Community Service and an elected Hastings School Board Member, Jane understands how to run for office and how to govern. She continues to serve as the President of the Bold Alliance and is a proud board member of Our Revolution.

Jane Kleeb lives in rural Nebraska with her husband Scott and three daughters–Kora, Maya and Willa.

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Bill McKibben


Bill McKibben, a well known environmental author and activist, is the founder of 350.org, an international climate change campaign. 350.org is named for the safe level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. In 2011, McKibben helped lead the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. The author of 13 best-selling books, McKibben been called “the world’s best green journalist” by Time Magazine and “the nation’s leading environmentalist” by the Boston Globe. He is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Rolling Stone.

Other sessions: Opening keynote featuring Eric Schneiderman

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Ben Powless


Ben Powless is a Mohawk citizen from Six Nations in Ontario, currently living in Ottawa, Canada. He has recently completed a degree in Human Rights, Indigenous and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. He works mostly with the Indigenous Environmental Network (www.ienearth.org), focused on climate justice and resource extraction in Indigenous territories, particularly the tar sands in Canada.

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