line 9b

Trump Survival Tip No. 12: How to Shut Down an Oil Pipeline

The struggle against the petroleum industry is one years in the making. Coming to a head in Standing Rock with Dakota Access and in the halls of Congress with Keystone XL, the struggle hasn’t gone well for our side. Standing Rock was met with an invading military force and Keystone was railroaded through Congress. It may seem that we can do nothing to stop capitalism from finally scraping out the last vestiges of the world it has yet to exploit.

But there’s a much easier and more effective way to shut down an oil pipeline than lobbying your congressman: shut down the pipeline.

Oil pipelines cover thousands of miles of sparsely populated and often totally uninhabited land. It has been estimated that it is literally impossible to fully secure the United States’ energy grid from attack, because there’s just too much ground to cover. And the thing is, over those thousands of miles of pipeline, there are hundreds of shutoff valves, about one every ten miles or so. These shutoff valves are almost totally unguarded. Most have only a padlock and chain-link fence. And depending on how you go about it, you could–by yourself, or with only a handful of friends–shut down these pipelines for hours or days at a time, causing millions of dollars in damage to the companies running them.

In the past, the traditional tactic has been to break in with boltcutters, shut off the valve, call the company to inform them you’re shutting it down, and chain oneself to the pipeline. Three people managed to shut down Enbridge’s Line 9B in Quebec this way for seven hours (link), and related actions did the same on Line 7. However, if you can’t risk arrest, or like me, think this tactic relies on the liberal notion that arresting practitioners of civil disobedience is somehow embarrassing to the state, may I suggest another tactic: guerrilla shutdown.

You’ll need a car, a mountain bike (if you’re a strong biker), or some other way to cover hundreds of miles surreptitiously and quickly to do this. Rather than intentionally getting oneself arrested, try being a bit more sneaky about it: break into one shutoff valve, close it, lock it shut again with your own padlock, and drive off to the next valve and do it again. You keep that up, and with a single car, you could conceivably shut down the pipeline for hours, without the guarantee of arrest. If you have friends, taking shifts, you could do it for days. Just keep shutting the valves; every time the oil company sends a maintenance worker to open one, close another one.

This method of attacking pipelines is a form of direct action. Rather than beseeching representatives or agents to solve our problems for us, we solve the problem ourselves. This action can cost millions of dollars for the oil companies you target, and requires little more than boltcutters and gas money to accomplish; a pretty good way to prevent pipelines from being profitable for oil companies. And, my friends, direct action is the only way forward. The only way any of us can survive Trump’s presidency, the resurgence of fascism it represents, or this last dying breath of capitalism, is by coming together and solving problems ourselves. We can’t rely on anyone else; not the state, not “benevolent capitalists”, no gods and no masters. We carry a new world in our hearts. It is up to us to bring it to life.

Remember: when we fight, we win, so know how to fight!


This Is How You Shut Down a Pipeline

Today people in so called “Quebec” shut down the valve of Enbridge’s controversial Line 9B pipeline, essentially cutting the flow of tar sands oil to eastern “Canada”