Tuesday, February 19, 2013

35-40,000 Protest KXL At DC "Forward On Climate" Rally

Feb 17: During President's Day weekend, some 35,000 - 40,000 people marched to the President's doorstep (although he wasn't there) to support immediate action to contain climate change and urge the President to deny permits for the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL). In a release from the sponsoring organizations they indicate that people from more than 30 states across the country whose land, homes and health are being threatened by the climate crisis, as well as students, scientists, indigenous community members and many others participated in this largest climate rally in U.S. history.

    350.org founder Bill McKibben, one of the major sponsors of the event said, "For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here -- science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money."

    Rally participants called on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and put limits on dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's dirtiest power plants. They said much of President Obama's legacy will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in fighting the climate crisis. Rally participants are looking for him to move forward on his recent State of the Union address declaration when he said, "For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change."

    Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club said, "Twenty years from now on President's Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption. President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children. Today, we are asking him to use that pen to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built."

    The organizations said the Keystone XL tar sands project would pipe some of the dirtiest oil on the planet through the breadbasket of America to be shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico. It would be a disaster for our climate, producing tar sands crude that kicks out two or three times as much carbon pollution as producing conventional crude oil.

    Chief Jacqueline Thomas, immediate past Chief of the Saik'uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance (People of the Earth) said, "The Yinka Dene Alliance of British Columbia is seeing the harm from climate change to our peoples and our waters. We see the threat of taking tar sands out of the Earth and bringing it through our territories and over our rivers. The harm being done to people in the tar sands region can no longer be Canada's dirty secret. We don't have the billions of dollars that industry has. But we do have our faith that people will do the right thing to protect Mother Earth. The Forward on Climate Rally shows that we are not alone in the fight to stop tar sands expansion and tackle climate change."

    Van Jones, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Trustee and President of Rebuild the Dream said, "This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters -- dirty power plants -- accountable for what they dump into the air. Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children."

    The groups indicated that the historic rally to call for climate leadership reflects Americans' recognition of the threats of climate change and their support for meaningful action now. The groups cited a Public Policy Polling (PPP) immediately after the President's State of the Union address indicating that 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority of Americans support President Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, dangerous carbon pollution. The "Forward on Climate" rally was organized by 350.org; Sierra Club, Hip Hop Caucus; Natural Resources Defense Council and many other organizations.

    Other speakers included: the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation; Maria Cardona, Latinovations Founder, Dewey Square Group Principal; and Tom Steyer, Investor and founder of the Center for the Next Generation.
        As WIMS has pointed out before [See WIMS 1/24/13], the recent approval of the Nebraska Governor on an alternate routing, combined with intense and growing Congressional political pressure to approve KXL is setting the stage for a highly controversial decision by the President and his Administration -- particularly in light of the President's Inaugural commitment to address the issue of climate change [See WIMS 1/22/13] followed up by an even stronger commitment in this State of the Union address [See WIMS 2/13/13]. Additionally, former Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the new Secretary of State, who has primary authority over reviewing and recommending the KXL Presidential permits, is a strong advocate for addressing the climate change issue. Kerry said previously that one of his greatest disappointments as a Senator was not getting a climate change bill passed. On February 6, sixty leading environmental, conservation, development, faith-based, and social justice organizations urged Kerry to reject any new or expanded infrastructure for tar sands oil, starting with the Keystone XL pipeline [See WIMS 2/6/13].
    Access a release from the organizations (click here). Access the ForwardOnClimate website for complete background, videos and images from the rally (click here). [#Climate, #Energy/KXL]
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