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Local activists recount Tar Sands protest; will discuss civil disobedience in Narrowsburg

By Marygrace & Virginia Kennedy
November 9, 2011

[Editor’s note: The Kennedys provided the following account of their recent involvement in a peaceful protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline. They will participate in a discussion on November 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tusten Branch of the Western Sullivan Public Library on Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, NY.

For details, visit www.riverreporteronline.com/feature/16/2011/10/26/washington-and-wall-street-%E2%80%98women-wisdom%E2%80%99-talk-civil-disobedience]

On Sunday, November 6, exactly one year before the 2012 presidential election, over 12,000 people from all over the U.S. and Canada rallied at the White House to ask President Barak Obama to say “no” to the Keystone XL Pipeline. We were among them. This was our second trip to DC to protest this pipeline meant to carry corrosive tar sands oil from Alberta Canada across the heartland of the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico.
In August, we were part of a wave of over 1,200 arrests in front of the White House that took place over the course of two weeks. The August tar sands action was one of the biggest, sustained civil disobedience actions since the epic actions of the civil rights movement.

We returned to Washington last weekend to stand with thousands of others. People were not there just to protest a pipeline; we were there because we believe that now is the time to make a stand against the fossil fuel industry that is killing our present and robbing our future.

Oil from tar sands, coal from mountaintop removal, natural gas fracked from shale formations deep in the earth, all mean energy acquired in the most dirty and damaging ways possible, ways that destroy lands, poison waters and fill our atmosphere with the carbon dioxide propelling the radical destabilization of our climate. Leading climate change activist Bill McKibben calls the Keystone XL a “carbon bomb.” Allowing the development of tar sands oil would mean, in the words of NASA scientist James Hansen, “game over” for the climate.

The speakers at the rally included notables like McKibben and fracking activist, actor Mark Ruffalo. They also included Indigenous people like Oglala Lakota Chief Tom Poor Bear, evangelical reverend Jim Wallis, Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, labor leaders, a Nebraska rancher and student organizers. Together they took apart the story told over and over again by the fossil fuel industry—that fossil fuels are the only real choice for producing the energy we need; that the fossil fuel industry alone can create the jobs that struggling Americans need to survive.