Paxeducare’s Blog

An Open Letter About Our Arrest for Civil Disobedience-Tar Sands
October 11, 2011, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Many of you are aware of the issues around the egregious Tar Sands mining in Alberta, Canada and the Keystone XL Pipeline that will carry this crude material to Texas for processing and distribution. For the first time, I am my husband, Bill Upholt, felt called to participate in an action involving civil disobedience and arrest. Following is the letter we sent out to our supporters just after our participation in the action in Washington, DC in late August, 2011. It is hoped that, by publicizing our actions and our reasons and some of the issues involved, we are promoting the continued mission of Pax Educare, which is peace education. In reality, there can be little separation between education and action. I believe there is an inherent relationship between principled action and learning.

September 2011

Dear Friends and Family

 Since many of you have been so supportive of our efforts regarding the Tar Sands Action, we thought we would send out an email to you all, thanking you for supporting us in what we both feel has been a spirit led process to come to the point of civil disobedience. We were both arrested today, transported to the Anacostia DC police station in handcuffs, paid our fine and were released. So it was a pretty easy process as these things go. We had excellent training last night with inspiring talks by Bill Mckibben and Canadian First Nations representatives who are  already being directly affected.  We were very well prepared as a community acting in concert with a common purpose and a peaceful positive approach. The police were, for the most part, very helpful, courteous and friendly. My (Mary Lee)  police wagon driver became interested in what we were doing and we in the van had a very interesting conversation, filling him in. He said “I agree with you!” All about teachable moments. The sense of solidarity among the participants was really wonderful.  We found friends here participating, including Tom Carr, pastor of  First Baptist Church in West Hartford, who was arrested  yesterday, others from CT and Quakers from various parts of the US. Bill and I are both fine.
Bill and I both believe that climate change is one of the biggest challenges and defining issues  of our time, along with the issues of  peak oil extraction and our economic system which is in deep trouble. All three are interrelated. Briefly, the issues around the Tar Sands have to do with the Keystone Energy Company’s XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil extracted from tar sands in the Alberta boreal forest to the Texas Gulf area for processing. It is an extremely energy intensive process to extract, using large amounts of natural gas , very expensive, creates vast pools of wastewater, excavates tons of soil, and climatologists are saying that if we tap into tar sands, we will get tipped into catastrophic climate change. In short, it is an ecological disaster. There have already been numerous problems with spills in the existing pipeline project. For more information you can go to Since it is up to our President and the State Department to provide final approval of the agreement, as the pipeline crosses international boundaries, the sit in is being held at the White House. If you feel so moved, we urge you to register your request with the White House that Obama uphold his campaign promises on the environment and please not sign the agreement. White House phone number is 202-456-1111. You can say that you are urging our President to please not approve the Keystone Pipeline project.

We feel that we are on the cusp of a “revolution” in the use of renewable sources of energy. We don’t’ need to tap into these hard to reach sources of oil and gas. Tapping into tar sands, gas fracking, deep water oil drilling and other extreme approaches to fossil fuel extraction just continues us on a path of  fossil fuel dependence for the foreseeable  future. For the sake of the next generations and the future of our planet, we felt a call to this civil disobedience action. 

 Mary Lee and Bill