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Michael Brune on Keystone XL and Civil Disobedience

Jan 30, 2013
(Grist)

Earlier this month, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune announced that the Club would, for the first time in its long and storied history, officially participate in an act of civil disobedience — i.e., break the law. The target? The Keystone XL pipeline. "For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest," he wrote. "Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism."

I called Brune to get some insight on the Club's thinking and its future plans.

Q. How was this decision made?

A. One of the strengths of the Club is that we are a democratically driven organization. If you're a member and you write a check for $30, you get to vote on who's on our board, and the board sets policies. The board voted to authorize the Sierra Club to engage in civil disobedience, to pressure the president to use his full authority to reject the Keystone pipeline. There will likely be a conversation about the Club's position on civil disobedience more broadly, but all that has happened so far is approval to take this single action.