Meet CCL's Keystone protesters
Starting Saturday (Aug. 20) and for the next two weeks, thousands of climate activists will risk arrest in front of the White House in order to convince the President to stop the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from the controversial tar sands project in Alberta, Canada, down to refineries in Texas.
Aside from the environmental degradation that the tar sands project is inflicting upon the wilderness of Alberta, climate advocates say that pulling this carbon-based goo out of the Earth and burning it will push us beyond the safe and sustainable limits of greenhouse gases that are heating the planet. As America’s leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen put it, “It’s essentially game over” for the climate if the tar sands are fully developed.
Several volunteers from Citizens Climate Lobby are joining what 350.org’s Bill McKibben is calling “the biggest display of civil disobedience in the environmental movement in decades.” We thought you’d like to meet them and find out why they’re willing to spend their time and money, and risk getting arrested, to stop Keystone XL.
City: Dover, PA
Occupation: civil servant
Dates in Washington: Aug. 27
Why he’s doing this: “The science is clear on climate change and the general public and our legislators are not taking the appropriate response to this catastrophe. We owe it to future generations to act on the science doing everything we can to prevent this, whether it be lobbying our lawmakers or getting arrested in civil disobedience at the White House.”
City: Toronto, Ontario
Occupation: Retired computer systems engineer
Dates in Washington: Aug. 20-22
Why she’s doing this: “I am a Canadian who is ashamed of being one. I am willing to be arrested to make the statement that I dissociate myself from my government's criminal promotion of the tar sands. The Canadian government is telling the world that our word is not to be trusted, that our reputation as an honest broker is a lie. President Obama has the opportunity to put a halt to our country's increased exports of this dirty bitumen. He must have the courage to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists if we are to have any hope of preventing catastrophic climate change.”
City: Norman, OK
Occupation: Retired reading specialist
Dates in Washington: Aug. 23-24
Why she’s doing this: “I do this not because I think I will 'win' ... I do it because it is the right thing to do. When my grandkids ask me, ‘Grandma, how did you let it get this way?’ I'll be able to say, ‘Sweetheart, I never stopped trying to fix it.’ ”
City: Madison, WI
Occupation: Elementary school teacher
Dates in Washington: Aug. 23-24
Why she’s doing this: “If we burn the tar sands oil, they my 4-year-old students will face a bleak future because of climate change. I am drawing a line in the sand to say “no” to the Keystone pipeline, for their sake and the sake of the young children in Alberta who are already seeing their land devastated. I want President Obama to look with me in the eyes of any 4-year-ol and promise that he will lead our nation further down the path of clean energy, rather than allow more dirty tar sands oil.”
City: Bemidji, MN
Occupation: Expeditionary Charter School Paraprofessional
Dates in Washington: Aug. 21-24
Why he’s doing this: “I care deeply about climate change and the global impacts that already are negatively affecting the worldwide community. What is most important to me is finding every way we possibly can to encourage President Obama and our government to take leadership in transitioning our lifestyles away from being dependent on fossil fuels immediately. My community of Bemidji has already been negatively impacted by oil pipelines, in 1979 a rupture spilled out over 450,000 gallons of crude oil into the surrounding fragile wetlands, some of which remains still today, over 30 years later. This protest is calling to light a crucial opportunity for us to take a different direction, demanding we find new ways of providing our energy rather than needlessly harming many communities and ecosystems."