From the Local To the Global: Why We Must Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

By Rainforest Action Network

Tar Sands extraction in Alberta“Now that we have seen what the Tar Sands in Alberta looks like, this is not about the pipeline going through our farm. This is about Alberta, about the world. ”

This week tens of thousands of people have arrived in Washington D.C. to defend the climate and demonstrate their opposition to the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline in what has become the largest rally on climate change in U.S. history.

What’s the issue?

The pipeline is a 1700-mile, $7-billion project that would bring 700,000 barrels of carbon-heavy tar sands oil every day from the Athabasca Tar Sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast for global export. Far from bringing America energy security, as its proponents claim, the KXL pipeline undermines action on climate change and keeps America hooked on dirty oil.

Why protest now?

In 2012 extreme weather pushed climate change back onto the U.S. political agenda. In his inauguration speech, President Obama promised to “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”. He repeated this sentiment again last week in the State of the Union address. It’s good to hear strong language on climate from the President, but it’s strong action that will make a differecet for our children and future generations. And the KXL pipeline is the first test for Obama’s new climate strategy.

Cherri FoyntlinThe pipeline is not only a climate issue. Its proposed route slices right through Middle America, from the Canadian border down to the Texas coast. This raises many concerns about pipeline safety and land-use. Among the crowds in DC are contingents from the states that are most directly impacted, including land-owners who are opposed to the pipeline coming through their properties.

I asked several of these folks why they had traveled all the way to D.C. to speak out. Each had their own powerful answer, and all made the clear connection between the issues in their own backyards and the urgency of stopping the pipeline for all of our futures.

“I’m here today because my family farm lies on the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. It was homesteaded in 1864, we have huge pride in that farm. But now that we have seen what the Tar Sands in Alberta looks like, this is not about the pipeline going through our farm. This is about Alberta, about the world. I have kids and if I don’t stand up for this, their lives will be hugely affected. That’s why I’m doing everything I can, rattling every chain.” – Jenni Harrington, Nebraska

Nebraska Pipeline protestor“Tar Sands mining is the most ecologically destructive project on this continent. Stopping KXL is a necessary condition, not only for life in my region, but for life on this planet itself.” – Grace Cagle, Texas

“I’m here to support communities who will be impacted by this toxic pipeline and to challenge the President to take definitive action in protection of our future.” – Cherri Foyntlin, Louisiana

Not everyone could make it to a climate protest today, but we can all speak out on this critical issue. Please stand with these brave communities and take action by adding your voice to the masses who are urging President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline.