On Saturday, December 13, Climate Action NOW!350ma held a an Emergency Rally to Stop the Keystone XL in downtown Northampton. Co-sponsored by ten other groups, the action drew about 75 people to the corner of Main and King Streets where pots were banged, chants were chanted, songs were sung and a polar bear debated a corrupt banker about the benefits and harms of the pipeline which, if built, would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export.
The pipeline, if built, would allow incalculable amounts of some of the most polluting oil on earth to reach world markets. Producing one barrel of tar sands oil creates about 3 times more emissions than producing conventional oil. At present there is no cheap way to transport large amounts of this poor-quality oil overseas. Trains have limited capacity and are an expensive alternative. But the KXL would open the floodgates and, as stated by NASA scientist James Hansen, would prove “Game over for the climate.”
The newly-elected Republican leaders of both houses of Congress have promised to immediately present and pass legislation to permit the Keystone XL’s construction, which is now stalled awaiting the settlement of a suit in the Nebraska Supreme Court. Depending on the outcome of the suit, the State Department will issue its assessment President Obama will decide on the permit. If the Congress passes legislation permitting the KXL, protesters demanded that he veto the legislation and ultimately oppose construction as not in the national interest.
The “polar bear” (CAN member John Cohen) debated against the “banker’s” (Linda Putnam) claims that the pipeline would give the United States energy security and jobs, reminding protesters that the oil is meant for export and that less than fifty permanent jobs would be created. Further he recounted the numerous spills already of the toxic bitumen (tar sands) that have poisoned farms, forests and ground water. The toxic chemicals mixed with the bitumen to dilute it for transport through the pipe create a poisonous cloud in the atmosphere while the tar sinks to the bottom of streams and is impossible to clean up.
Led by a thirty-foot long “pipeline” carried by CAN volunteers, the group marched to City Hall and back to criss-cross the main intersection of town.
CAN is grateful to the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club & the Social Justice Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts join Climate Action NOW!, Mothers out Front, Northampton Unitarian Society Climate Action Group, Western Mass AFSC, Progressive Democrats of America, Pelham Transition group Neighbor 2 Neighbor, Northampton Committee to Stop War, Enviro Show, Climate Witness Committee of Mt. Toby Friends Meeting, all co-sponsors of the event.
On January 3, from 9 am to 3 pm (location TBA) there will be a day-long meeting to prepare for nonviolent direct action (blocking the entrance to TD North in Springfield; TD is the largest Keystone funder). Some participants will plan to risk arrest; others will provide support in a variety of ways, such as Media, Jail Support, and a public rally near the TD North action. The TD North action date will be announced soon; it will be coordinated with nation-wide civil disobedience by 97,000 signers of the Credo Keystone Pledge of Resistance. If you would like to participate in and receive updates about local events tied to the national Pledge of Resistance campaign, please email Dave Roitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.