Sunday, September 4, 2011

Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington

A total of 1,252 peaceful protesters were arrested for opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Washington including 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and NASA's chief climatologist James Hansen.

Saturday September 3rd marked the final day of the two week-long marathon of tar sands pipeline protests. Bill McKibben and allies say the proposed tar sands pipeline could galvanize US action on climate.

The Canadian Tar Sands are one of the most environmentally destructive projects on earth. The Keystone XL could pump millions more barrels of heavy crude from Alberta. The $7 billion, 1,702-mile Keystone XL pipeline would be a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet."

The pipeline could pump up to 900,000 barrels of heavy crude daily, and that number could increase to 1.5 million barrels per day by 2019, tripling the amount of diluted bitumen flowing from Canada to the US.

EPA gave the first draft its lowest grade of inadequate almost a year ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make a decision on the pipeline before December.

"If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over," Hansen explained. "The principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.".

The protest was organized because, as Bill McKibben explained in a letter he co-authored, "Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn’t worked...Maybe moral witness will help."

Organizers recognize that President Obama's environmental agenda has been hamstrung by Republican obstructionism and pressure from oil interests which is why they asked marchers to don Obama campaign buttons.

"For once, the Republicans can't filibuster this," McKibben said about the pipeline decision "Trying to talk to Congress about these issues is like trying to talk to your cat."

"We don't have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies," the co-authors wrote.

"We are just now finishing up the largest civil disobedience in this country in this century. We won't attack the President. We will only hold him to the standard he set in 2008. We have been arrested for two weeks straight, but without bitterness or hate. Only joy and resolve," McKibben said

It comes down to the choice between temporary jobs of the past which are ruining the environment or permanent jobs of the future that will contribute to a habitable planet.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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