Despite the rain, a small group of activists assembled at the dried-out pond in Niles Community Park on September 21 to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“We picked these dried out ponds to remind the President that there’s a connection between his decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline and the availability of drinking water around the globe,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, organizer of this local event. The ponds, used by the Alameda County Water District to recharge the aquifer, have been almost completely dry for weeks.
The protest was part of the national “Draw the Line” day of action, calling on President Obama to deny the permit for Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This was the most widespread day of action to date in the campaign to stop the project activist link to climate change.
“The issue is carbon,” Spencer explained. “When we burn any fossil fuel, we release the carbon it contains at carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide sticks around in the atmosphere and causes global warming – which, in turn, causes our climate to change.”
“Barrel for barrel, tar sands oil is much worse for the climate than conventional oil,” Spencer said. “Overwhelmingly, experts agree that oil mined from tar sands in Alberta, Canada is far worse for the climate than typical crude oil (which is plenty bad on its own) because of the added pollution from extracting, refining, and delivering it.”
The national day of action featured scores of creative events, with large rallies planned in areas already affected by climate change and demonstrations against pollution from big oil at refineries across the country.
“We’re hoping President Obama might be finally steeling himself to draw a line in the sand against the planet’s filthiest oil — so we thought it would be useful to give him a little inspiration from every corner of the country,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
In Nebraska, citizens began construction on a solar and wind-powered barn being raised on land directly inside the route of the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.
In New Orleans, activists, accompanied by a brass band, marched at the levee at Woldenberg Park and ended at the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.
In Houston: Community leaders will meet at the TransCanada Pipelines Headquarters for a ‘People’s Eminent Domain,’ condemning them for abusive practices towards landowners, and for bringing more pollution to communities living near refineries.
In New York, activists used chalk to mark the parts of Manhattan predicted to go underwater from sea level rise.
While President Obama considers Keystone XL’s fate, opposition to the pipeline, and the tar sands oil it would carry has continued to grow. Over 1,500 people have already been arrested to stop Keystone XL, and on February 17 over 40,000 people came to Washington to tell the President that Keystone XL is not in the national interest. Credo Mobile, Other 98, and Rainforest Action Network have collected pledges from over 75,000 people who are willing to risk arrest to stop the pipeline. A diverse coalition of environmentalists, inner-city residents living near refineries, and rural landowners have come together to oppose the pipeline’s southern leg in Texas as well.
Pipeline opponents were heartened by President Obama’s comments about Keystone XL at his June 25 Georgetown climate speech, when he said he would oppose the pipeline if it would “significantly” increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Independent analysts, environmentalists, and the tar sands industry all agree that Keystone XL will increase emissions and is the lynchpin to the industry’s stated goal of increasing production from today’s 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 bpd million by 2030. Over the project’s 50-year timeline, Keystone XL would add between 935 million and 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to our atmosphere at a time when the World Bank and International Energy Administration are warning that some 66 percent of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground if we are to have even a small chance at stopping the climate crisis.
A full list of events and photos are available at http://act.350.org/event/draw_the_line/