Dirt Persuasion


Dirt Persuasion

Civic Environmental Populism and the Heartland's Pipeline Fight

Derek Moscato

246 pages
12 photographs, 2 illustrations, 2 maps, 2 tables, 10 graphs, index


June 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2023 Nebraska Book Award

Dirt Persuasion examines a watershed moment in U.S. environmental politics: the fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline. The complex interplay of resources extraction industries with grassroots environmentalism and advocacy has transformed the role of activists in the contemporary public sphere. Bold Nebraska’s years-long fight against pipeline company TransCanada provides a compelling case study: a contemporary state-level organization that simultaneously challenged political and business leaders in its home state of Nebraska, at the national level in the United States, and in the foreign jurisdiction of Canada.

Dirt Persuasion sheds light not only on the activism practices of social movements but also on the changing environments in which such actions are deployed. The KXL Pipeline fight represents a watershed moment both for U.S. energy politics and in the communication of environmental activism. The rural dimension of this environmental saga is critical: environmentalism must be understood from the perspective of the rural Americans who coexist with one of the planet’s most delicate ecologies. Populism, rhetorical appeals, strategic advocacy framing, and media framing all factor prominently within the pipeline debate—leading to a civic environmental persuasion built on the attributes of narrative, engagement, hyperlocalization, and bipartisanship in order to build broad stakeholder support and influence public policy.

Author Bio

Derek Moscato is an associate professor of journalism at Western Washington University.


"Readers will learn how one case of civil environmental populism evolved in a rural US context and, in so doing, will also gain an in-depth understanding of the existing scholarship on environmental communication. This exemplary book demonstrates outstanding, careful scholarship."—R. E. O'Connor, Choice

“TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline is arguably one of the most significant environmental struggles in North American history. Moscato not only digs deep into these intense ecological antagonisms but—through the Bold Nebraska environmental campaign—also presents an important case study of the possibilities of engaged, multi-stakeholder environmental activism in a time of mounting global ecological crisis. . . . Dirt Persuasion is an exceptionally important contribution to environmental communication.”—Patrick D. Murphy, author of The Media Commons: Globalization and Environmental Discourses

Dirt Persuasion is a must-read for grassroots activists who care about rural environments. Lucidly written, Moscato’s fascinating book illuminates how Bold Nebraska mobilized cultural symbols, storytelling, and historical consciousness to build uncommon alliances and frame the media narrative in a successful movement to halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”—Marsha Weisiger, Julie and Rocky Dixon Chair of U.S. Western History at the University of Oregon

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
1. A Pipeline Runs through It
2. Plains Spoken
3. Harvesting a Rural Metanarrative
4. Framing a Movement
5. Níbtháska
6. A Fight on Your Hands
7. From the Grass Roots
Epilogue: After Nebraska


2023 Nebraska Book Award

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