Thousands of people in downtown San Francisco joined thousands of others in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. to simultaneously urge President Obama to reject the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a action that they said would prove his commitment to fight global warming. The Washington, D.C. protest was billed as the largest climate change rally in the history of the United States. According to SFGate.com:
Organizers of the San Francisco protest estimated that more than 4,000 people gathered to condemn the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would run nearly 2,000 miles to connect Canada’s oil sands to refineries around the Gulf of Mexico. Because it would cross an international border, it requires Obama’s approval.
“We’re asking him to reject Keystone XL as one way to move forward on climate change,” said Jess Dervin-Ackerman, a conservation organizer with the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, which planned the event along with 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other groups.
Opponents of the pipeline, including Democrats and environmentalists, argue the project could contaminate land and water along its route, particularly in Nebraska, and release high concentrations of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by increasing oil production from tar sands.
Canada views Keystone as a crucial step in furthering oil production and growing its economy. It would be the longest oil pipeline outside Russia and China, able to transport more than half a million barrels of crude oil daily.
Protestors in San Francisco gathered in Justin Herman Plaza to listen to speakers, including District 11 Supervisor, John Avalos, who touted CleanPowerSF, the city’s proposed clean-energy program, and his call for the city’s retirement system to divest from fossil fuel companies. SFGate.com says:
The speakers said that battling Keystone, along with pushing to reduce coal burning and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, was critical in preserving the environment for future generations.
That message resonated with Woody Little, 18, a UC Berkeley freshman who held a sign that read “Love Each Other, Love the Earth.” Born one day too late to vote for Obama in the last election, he said he wanted climate change to be one of the president’s achievements.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Why would we be accessing this deposit, these tar sands’ dirty oil, when there’s so much out there to be used already?”
No, Mr. Little, it does not make any SENSE, but it makes a lot of DOLLARS for Big Oil to utilize dirty tar sands and to frack for natural gas at the risk of our groundwater (and seismic stability) while receiving BILLIONS in government subsidies that it does not need. After the deposits are depleted, Big Oil will do what it has ALWAYS done – like locusts – move on.
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