On March 2 I will risk arrest in front of the White House alongside hundreds of other young people from across the country. Our plan is to enact a theatrical human oil spill in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.
Youth and students around the country are mobilizing, preparing to return to the White House to demand action in what could be the most crucial environmental decision of Obama’s presidency: the approval or rejection of Keystone XL.
As young people, we’ll be living with the results of this decision for the rest of our lives. Science and basic math have shown time and again that Keystone XL and the exploitation of the Alberta tar sands will have serious climate ramifications for our country and the entire planet. The State Department’s environmental impact study on the pipeline shows that all emission scenarios in which the Keystone XL is approved put us on a path to warming of more than six degrees C (11 F). This would put thousands of US cities and counties—and the homes of millions of Americans—underwater. The negative health and economic consequences of the pipeline are also well documented.
We have and will continue to employ every peaceful and legal channel available to us to stop this pipeline. We’ve issued public comments. We’ve petitioned. We’ve rallied. We’ve lobbied our politicians (though we were outspent thirty-five to one). We’ve cast votes for climate champions who opposed the pipeline. But it has not been enough to make our leaders to commit to real climate action. With lives already impacted and our future on the line, we feel we have no choice but to escalate.
The fight over this pipeline has been going on for years. It began with courageous resistance to tar sands exploitation by indigenous groups like the Beaver Lake Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations—living at ground zero of tar sands development—and communities on the frontlines of this fight in places like Manchester and Houston and along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, the site of a 2010 tar sands spill that still hasn’t been cleaned.