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October 28, 2016
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Local activists recount Tar Sands protest; will discuss civil disobedience in Narrowsburg

Of course, building pipelines and extracting fuels from the most difficult places to reach on the earth create jobs, dirty, dangerous jobs, “boomtown” jobs that disappear in the long term and leave in their wake expensive consequences, like ruined lands and waters and broken communities. The farmers, ranchers and the small town citizens of America’s rural heartland were out in force at the rally to talk about the loss of a way of life if this pipeline comes through their lands and their communities.

They talked about how the big corporations are bent on impoverishing small family farmers and ranchers. And once they have lost everything to big agribusiness and the meat industry, the big money offered by the fossil fuel industry is hard to resist.

They described other choices, noting that if we can build huge oil rigs in the middle of the ocean or the frozen tundra or huge pipelines thousands of miles long that cut across forests, farms and people’s homelands, we can build factories for windmills or solar panels and infrastructure to carry the energy of wind and sun to our towns and cities.

So we stood in front of the White House, mother and daughter among thousands of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and grandparents and their grandchildren, and sent our president a different message; a message that has been reverberating in the Occupy movements springing up in cities all across America. People are tired of feeling voiceless and tired of being told that the course of their lives is in the control of the rich and powerful. Ours is a message about values, about who and what we will value as a nation and a people.

At Bill McKibben’s signal, the tar sands protestors spread out and encircled the entire White House. We stood peacefully, arms linked, holding signs printed with Barak Obama’s own promises from his inspirational 2008 campaign, among them, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” It was a powerful, colorful, moving sight—people of every age and multiple ethnicities standing together for our generation and for future generations.

Barak Obama can say no to this pipeline all by himself. He can make the decision as a father and a teacher that now is the time to make sure that all children have a future filled with promise, not with dirty oil.