And all they got was a
mug shot ticket (and an earthquake).
The largest environmental civil disobedience action in a generation is happening right now in front of the White House. Hundreds of people have been arrested already and hundreds more will be arrested over the next week. It’s all aimed at getting President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The proposed pipeline is an extension of an existing line, which currently stops somewhere in Oklahoma. The new line would allow oil companies to transport tar sands all the way from the destroyed Boreal forests of northern Alberta to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, passing under essential farm land and vital aquifers in the mid-west. This brings us to reason#951 (find some other reasons here and here) why this line should not be built: spills. The current line has already leaked dozens of times in one year.
But, supporters counter, this is our chance to reduce our dependence on foreign oil create jobs. Let’s deal with jobs first. It will create jobs, there is no question about that. With this economy it seems pernicious to say no to job creation. But what type of jobs are we creating and how many? Industry estimates about jobs fluctuate pretty wildly and they’ll short term (mostly during construction).
More importantly, we have to ask ourselves, is it worth it? Instead of reducing our need for foreign oil by creating dirty jobs and perpetuating harmful cognitive dissonance about our energy choices, can’t we invest in clean energy infrastructure and green jobs? Tapping tar sands to produce more domestic (or North American) oil and create dirty jobs is, in the words of NASA Climatologist Dr. James Hansen, “game over”.
The environmental impacts of tar sands development include: irreversible effects on biodiversity and the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal Forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife — particularly bird and caribou migration — fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities.
President Obama has a rare opportunity to get something done. Congress isn’t involved in the decision about the pipeline. Because the pipeline crosses a national boundary the State Department has to decide whether granting the permit to build the line is in “the National Interest“. Guess who the State Department works for? The decision on whether to allow a destructive, dirty, and backwards looking pipeline is in the President’s hands. And only his.
We need to tell the President that our “National Interest” is not lighting the very short fuse on this carbon bomb.
Which brings us to the protesters. They are making a stand for all of us. They have come from across this country – all fifty states. They are college students, professors, ranchers, farmers, high-schoolers, construction workers, environmentalists, stay-at-home parents. They are us. They are here for those who can’t make it to Lafeyette Park and they are there to send a message to the President. I’ve been out there and talked to them. They are passionate and excited. They’re scared. They’re committed. And they’re making a difference.
We need to join them. We need to tell the President that we will be there to support him if he stops the pipeline. We can help him win the political fight (we all know who is going to make this an issue in 2012).
If you can, come to DC. You don’t have to sit in and get arrested – but you can show your support. You can let the President and the rest of our elected officials know that this is too important, that the pipeline must be stopped. You can make a stand for the future.