Largest Day of Arrests Yet at White House Pipeline Protest

Rev. Mari Castellanos

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s top climate scientist and a large group of religious leaders were arrested at the White House this morning with 140 other Americans to push President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline. To date 522 people have been arrested at the White House protesting the pipeline.

“If Obama chooses the dirty needle it will confirm that the President was just green-washing all along, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians, with no real intention of solving the addiction,” said NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, who was arrested at the White House this morning.

President Obama must decide whether or not to grant a “presidential permit” for a Canadian company, TransCanada, to begin construction of the Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile pipeline from the Canadian tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.Earlier this summer, Dr. Hansen and twenty other leading scientists sent a letter to the White House urging the President to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, writing: “If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is ‘in the national interest.’ As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”

Best-selling evangelical author Jim Wallis, who recently served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, sent a message of support to the protesters. “American Christians are demanding a new direction in America’s energy future — one that marks our turn away from oil and fossil fuels and toward cleaner and renewable energy sources,” wrote Wallis. “Developing the tar sands in Canada and building the Keystone XL pipeline through six states in the American Midwest is the wrong direction for our country and derails progress of building a responsible energy infrastructure.”

“Climate change hurts the poor first,” said Rose Berger, a Roman Catholic and editor at Sojourners magazine who led a large delegation of religious leaders participating in the protest and was arrested this morning. “The tar sands development and the permitting the Keystone XL pipeline will worsen climate change and should be stopped.”

“We must turn up the heat in a sustained effort against the scourge of climate change, which harms not just our land and water but people here and now, our human future and all earthly creation,” said Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist congregation in Bethesda, MD.

The executive directors of Greenpeace and 350.org, as well as the President of CREDO Mobile, also took part in today’s sit-in. So far, the ongoing White House protest that began on Saturday, Aug 21st has led to the arrest of over 500 Americans. The protest will continue until September 3rd with large crowds expected each day.

No More Dirty Work! Clean, Green Jobs, not Tar Sands Oil

Dear Beloved Community,

President Barack Obama will decide as early as September whether to light a fuse to the largest carbon bomb in North America. That bomb is the massive tar sands field in Canada’s Alberta province. And the fuse is the 1,700-mile long Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport this dirtiest of petroleum fuels all the way to Texas refineries.

I am writing you now because the Keystone XL Pipeline is a climate and pollution horror beyond description. From August 20th to September 3rd, thousands of Americans – including Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, and NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, and myself – will be at the White House, day after day, demanding Obama reject this tar sands pipeline.

While pro-oil lobbies will undoubtedly tell President Obama that America needs the jobs, there are thousands of Americans who are saying “No more dirty work! Give us clean, green jobs for a healthy planet and healthy families.”

Given the high stakes, many protestors will engage in peaceful civil disobedience, day after day to make their voices heard. Already the attention this event is getting will likely make it the biggest act of civil disobedience in the climate movement’s history.

I’m going to be there, and I hope you will join me – this action, and this issue needs your voice. This action will be going on for two weeks, but you only need to be there for one day – so pick a day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 that you can make it to DC, and let the world know just what you think of the tar sands. Click here to sign up.

If you would like to participate with the “Religious Contingent” affinity group on AUGUST 29, then sign up at the Tar Sands Action site AND ALSO send an email to Tim Kumfer ([email protected]).

If built, the Keystone XL Pipeline would lock America into a future of planet-warming energy dependency. Indeed, Dr. Hansen – America’s top climate scientist – has said that full exploitation of Canada’s tar sands would be “game over” for efforts to solve climate change.

In 2009, Catholic Bishop Luc Bouchard of Alberta, Canada, wrote in a prophetic pastoral letter warning of the moral danger of this pipeline.

“When there is uncertainty as to whether a development project seriously endangers the environment, a pre-cautionary principle utilizing prudence and caution should guide the decision making process which itself must be administratively transparent. Therefore, massive projects that clearly endanger the environment must be approached in a deliberate, open, and consultative manner.”

President Obama alone – without input from Congress – has the power to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.

He will decide as soon as September whether to honor his campaign pledge to create a clean-energy economy, or to lock us in as a nation that cooks and distills filthy tar sands for much of our energy. Building this pipeline will be an economic and moral setback for clean-energy sources of all types. This is a line in the sand. The tar sands!

Here’s the link to sign up again: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up. Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns – I hope you’ll join us. This is just too important to stay home.

Peace and All Good,
Rose

Terry Tempest Williams at Capitol Coal Plant

climate-action-march-2-in-dcterrytwcropsmallwebI’ve enjoyed Utah-based essayist Terry Tempest Williams since I read her 1991 book “The Clan of One-Breasted Women” (“I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.”) about her family’s experience living as Downwinders from the Nevada Desert Nuclear Test Site.

A few weeks ago, at the Artists for Climate Action event in downtown D.C., I heard her speak. She highlighted some work she’d been doing with creative writing students in collecting oral histories from coal-mining communities in Wyoming. It turned into “an unprecedented experiment in the art of listening,” as Alexandra Fuller described it in her New York Times OpEd piece. You can read the students’ Weather Reports and see photos they took during their community listening project.

Terry’s newest book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, is a study of the art of mosaics, which she then applies to examining ecological mosaics in Bryce Canyon and the to the broken land of Rwanda attempting the art of putting what’s broken back together again in a shape that is beautiful.

I saw her at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network demonstration on Monday to close down or convert to solar the Capitol Hill Power plant (which runs on 49 percent coal supplied by Peabody Energy). There was a great line up of Kentucky essayist Wendell Berry, Methodist environmental leader Bill McKibben, head of NASA scientist James Hansen, country music star Kathy Mattea, and Terry Tempest Williams all under the banner “Save Our Mountains.” It was a beautiful sight to see.