Seven St. Mary’s students and alumni joined author Bill McKibben, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, and representatives of Canada’s impacted First Nations in the daily protests against the Keystone Pipeline. Over 2,000 people from all 50 states are expected to take part in the two week sit-in at the White House, which began Saturday, August 20, and will end on Saturday, September 3. The action has also received support from actors Daryl Hannah and Mark Ruffalo.
Participants in the action include sophomore Bethany Davis, seniors Johanna Galat, Emily Saari, and Caroline Selle, and Jamie Phillips (’11). Aaron French (‘11) and Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall (‘11) also plan to take part in the sit-in later this week. The students include leadership and activists in St. Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition, the former student trustee, the executive directors of the Maryland Student Climate Coalition, and leaders in the Sierra Student Coalition.
“The President said that in order to take action on climate change, he needs to feel the support of a movement behind him. We’ve tried phone calls and petitions; we’ve done everything we can. This is our way of telling him that the support he’s looking for is right outside his front door,” said Selle.
The proposed Keystone Pipeline is approximately 1,660 miles of pipeline which would transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Opponents believe that the pipeline will be a crutch for our addiction to fossil fuels, and the SMCM protestors intended to demonstrate their displeasure to President Obama.
“As the source of the second largest pool of carbon in the world, Dr. Hansen has called the extraction of the tar sands ‘game over for the climate,’” said Saari. “If we’re ever going to start moving away from our addiction to fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy, this pipeline cannot be built. Enough is enough.”
Many of the Maryland protesters carried signs shaped as wind turbines and called for the development of offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic as an alternative to tar sands oil. Others were in Washington, D.C. to prevent destruction of biodiversity, further oil spills, desecration of tribal lands, and damage to their homes and land.