Although the U.S.-based Sierra Club has, for the first time ever, endorsed an act of nonviolent civil disobedience over a tar-sands pipeline and its Canadian counterpart is debating whether to do the same, Sierra Club B.C. says it won't be breaking the law to stop Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
"Sierra Club BC is doing all that we can, within the bounds of the law, to stop the proposed Enbridge pipeline and oil tankers project and persuade governments to act on the climate crisis before we cross a truly dangerous threshold," Sarah Cox, interim executive director of the nonprofit environmental group, said in a statement sent out today (February 1).
"Sierra Club BC is a separate organization from Sierra Club Canada, which last night made a decision to conduct an internal dialogue to reassess its rules concerning civil disobedience in future campaigns."
A registered charity based in Victoria, Sierra Club B.C. noted it "does not support civil disobedience as a matter of policy".
Today, the board of directors of Sierra Club Canada issued their own statement saying they "understand" the U.S. Sierra Club's recent decision to get involved with a "limited civil disobedience action" over TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
"Sierra Club Canada recognizes that the climate is rapidly approaching a tipping point that demands immediate and significant action if we are to avoid a global catastrophe," the board said.
"The Sierra Club has advocated for action on climate change for more than 25 years, yet the governments in Canada and United States have failed to take serious action. This refusal to apply the same scientific principles to climate change policy that have been applied to numerous other health and environmental issues, despite unprecedented scientific research and public opinion, forces all people of conscience to question their methods."
On January 22, U.S. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune blogged that some people "might wonder whether [Sierra Club founder] John Muir is sitting up in his grave". But he argued the group's "unprecedented decision" is warranted.
"For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism. For Thoreau, the wrongs were slavery and the invasion of Mexico. For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was the brutal, institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow South. For us, it is the possibility that the United States might surrender any hope of stabilizing our planet's climate," Brune wrote.