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Press Release: Keystone XL Pipeline Rally

FROM: Climate Action NOW!/350MA (Pioneer Valley)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Marty Nathan 413/531-9915 or martygjf@comcast.net
Rally and March in Springfield to Protest Keystone XL Pipeline
Day to be determined.
SPRINGFIELD, MA

CLIMATE ACTION NOW!/350MA(Pioneer Valley) IS PLANNING LOCAL RALLY TO OPPOSE THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE.

In light of recent developments related to the Keystone XL Pipeline, Climate Action Now!, a western Massachusetts group, in coalition with  other local organizations, is planning a rally at Springfield’s Court Square, concluding with a march to TD Bank in downtown Springfield. This rally would be triggered by one of the following potential events:

  1. A failure by President Obama to veto Congress’s bill permitting construction;
  2. An override of a veto by Congress; or
  3. A finding by the State Department in favor of construction.

Because of the grave threat of climate disruption that is posed by the pipeline, if one of these trigger events occurs, some protesters intend to carry out acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.  This action is part of a nationwide response coordinated by the environmental groups 350.org, Credo, and Rainforest Action Network.  More than 97,000 people across the country have taken a “Pledge of Resistance” to carry out, if necessary, acts of dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could result in their arrest in order to send a message to President Obama and his administration that they must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

According to Dave Roitman, one of the organizers, “at this point we don’t know when or even if we’ll need this rally on Keystone. But, along with 97,000 other Americans, we’re ready to show how much this issue means to us.”

“Climate change is an urgent spiritual and moral issue,” said the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an event organizer who works for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts as Missioner for Creation Care.  “The people participating in this action come from different faith traditions – and none – but we share a moral commitment to giving our children and grandchildren a livable world.  Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is an important piece of accomplishing that.”

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, if constructed, would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement and export. This pipeline would release for burning enormous amounts of one of the most polluting energy sources on Earth, and create the potential for irreversible spill damage to large areas of America’s breadbasket.

The mining of the tar sands has already despoiled vast area of wild Alberta equal to the size of South Carolina.  Carrying the diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) through the pipeline would endanger groundwater, farmlands, aquifers and endangered species along its route through the heartland of the U.S., causing spills that could be impossible to clean up.

Tar sands oil requires four times more energy than oil to produce, and is much dirtier to burn. If it were to replace “normal” West Texas crude in the market, the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would be 27.4 million metric tons per year, equal to the tailpipe emissions of 5.7 million extra cars on the road.

But its increased pollution per barrel is not the only or even the main threat. It is the vast quantities that would be released to the market by the KXL and similar pipelines that have made the Keystone construction what NASA scientist James Hansen called “game over for the climate.” Cheap pipeline transport is the key to large-scale release of the more than 400 gigatons of carbon in the tar sands. Yet a major study published in the journal Nature on January 8, 2015 finds that 80 percent of coal reserves, a third of oil reserves – including MOST of the Canadian tar sands — should stay in the ground in order to limit average global temperature increases to only 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Governments worldwide agree that capping average global temperatures at a rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would give the world a 50-50 chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

Rising seas and floods, drought and fires in the Midwest and Western United States, massive hurricanes and freak tornadoes are all consequences of climate change. The social cost of the Keystone XL’s additional emissions is projected to be $128 billion in climate-related costs.

“Climate change hurts low-income people first and hardest,” said Michaelann Bewsee, co-founder of Arise, a Springfield-based organization dedicated to social and environmental justice.  “Right here in Springfield people are already suffering from some of the extreme weather events, heat, and health effects associated with air pollution and climate change.”

TD Bank is a part of Toronto-Dominion Bank and is a major funder of the Keystone XL pipeline.  TD Bank has been a target of past protests around the country.

“We need to make a swift transition to clean, renewable sources of energy,” commented David Roitman of Northampton, another organizer of the event. “Building new infrastructure for fossil fuels, especially on such a massive scale, is a recipe for disaster. And though touted as a job-creator, the Keystone XL would mean only 50 new permanent jobs, whereas building a non-carbon based energy economy would very likely mean hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. The Keystone XL is a bad deal for workers as well as the environment.”

Climate Action NOW!/350MA (Pioneer Valley) and co-sponsors demand that President Obama veto legislation authorizing its develpment for the sake of our country, the nations of the world, and our future.

The rally will begin at 9:00 a.m. at Court Square in downtown Springfield, where speakers and music from the coalition sponsors will be presented. Day will be determined pending outcome of present Keystone XL pipeline decisions.