Saturday August 20th marked the start of the largest act of civil disobedience for the climate in U.S. history. Over 2,000 people from across the U.S. and Canada are arriving in Washington, D.C. to send a message to President Obama that our children’s future is more important than oil profits. Obama will be deciding the fate of the massive new Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring Alberta tar sands oil across the U.S. to be refined in Texas. NASA scientist James Hansen has described the Canadian tar sands as a “carbon bomb” and warned that if they are fully developed it will be “game over” for the climate.
The police moved in within a few minutes of the 50 or so participants lining up at the White House fence. Several participants held two large banners that read “Climate Change is Not in Our National Interest: Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline” and “We Sit In Against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama Will You Stand Up to Big Oil?” while the rest of the group sat-in on the sidewalk in front of the fence. More than 50 people were arrested on Saturday, and they remained in jail on Sunday as 45 more people were arrested as they stood peacefully in front of the White House. Today, 50 more people are planning to stand there to remind Obama of what is at stake in his upcoming decision (it is his, and his alone to make – Congress doesn’t have a vote in the pipeline decision).
Not all of us concerned about climate change can be in Washington this August. I considered it, but prior commitments to family and friends won out; I also will admit to being nervous about being arrested in a foreign country. As well, I don’t think this will be the last time that those of us deeply concerned about our children’s future will be asked to participate in civil disobedience, so I will have other opportunities to act.
There are some things that those of us watching those courageous souls in Washington can do to support them:
- 350.org is asking for messages of support for the participants in the Washington action. Write a short message of support, hold it up and take a picture of it, and send it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with Tar Sands Action Solidarity from (*Wherever you live*)” in the subject. These pictures will be projected on the walls of the training spaces for everyone who is preparing to for the sitting-in to see. For more info, go to 350.org.
- The coalition organizing the protest, Tarsandsaction.org, is accepting donations and new sign-ups for the sit-in throughout the next two weeks.
- Email or write President Obama asking him to defuse the tar sands carbon bomb by refusing permission for the Keystone XL pipeline.
E-mail address: (5000 character limit) http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
Mailing Address: The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500