Nearly 400 youth were arrested on March 2 outside the White House during the XL Dissent, a non-violent, student-led action to stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.
The students had marched from Georgetown University, where US President Barack Obama made a significant climate change speech last summer, to the White House.
“Oscar for best performances by a human being go to the youth who got arrested by the hundreds in DC today #XLDissent,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, on Twitter. “I think #xldissent may be the biggest single day of civil disobedience in the whole Keystone saga. Saving best for last!”
The activists, most of them college students, fastened themselves to the White House fence and demanded that the president reject the dangerous pipeline.
The protest was organized by students and supported, 350.org, Energy Action Coalition, other environmental groups.
According to XLDissent.Org:
“XL Dissent is an event for young people to raise our voices in solidarity with communities most impacted by extreme energy. These include Indigenous First Nations in Alberta resisting tar sands extraction, people along the pipeline route opposing TransCanada’s use of eminent domain, and those near major refineries in Texas fighting environmental racism. Approval of the pipeline would ensure that our generation will also experience environmental devastation. We are coming together to register our dissent.”
Climatologist and former NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen has suggested that it will be “game over” for the climate if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.
“These people who are willing to put themselves on the line are real heroes because our leaders do not understand the importance of this,” said James Hansen while addressing University of Oregon’s Environmental Law Conference on March 1. “For them to rule that there’s no environmental impact is pure scientific garbage. We have to leave those dirtiest fuels in the planet in the ground. We can still do that. There’s only a teeny fraction of tar sands that have been extracted so far. If we keep that pipeline from being built and get a fee on carbon, all of that stuff will be left in the ground. But we better stop the pipeline first.”
Think Progress reports: “The Keystone XL pipeline is estimated to ship enough oil to emit 51 coal plants’ worth of carbon, while creating just 35 permanent jobs. While there have been some successful legal challenges to the pipeline’s construction, President Obama is the only major obstacle standing in the way of its creation.”
“Most of us understand that we have reached the tipping point. The question now is whether we continue down the path toward cataclysm, or make a bold break towards a brighter future,” wrote Conor Kennedy on the XL Dissent website.
The XL Dissent is the latest in a series of high-impact actions by environment justice activists urging Obama to reject Keystone XL and act on climate change. Last February, several environmental, civil rights, and community leaders were arrested in front of the White House during the “forward on climate” protest. Notable leaders arrested that day include Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club; Bill McKibben; Julian Bond, former president of the NAACP; Danny Kennedy, CEO of Sungevity; and actress Daryl Hannah.
Photo credit: James FromTheInternet