Biggest US climate rally ever calls on President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline project

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied this past Sunday in Washington DC, USA, to demand action on climate change. Organizers estimated that around 40,000 people took part in the demonstration, making it the largest climate rally in US history. The rally, intended as a show of force and unity for the environmental movement in the US, called on President Obama to move “Forward on Climate” and to stop the Keystone pipeline project.

“For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here - science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben in a speech.

Protests from environmentalists against the Keystone pipeline, and Obama’s inaction on the matter, project have been going on for over two years now. The Keystone XL pipeline will transport dirty crude oil from the tar sands fields of western Canada down through the Midwestern region of the US, often dubbed the breadbasket of America, and then processed and shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico. The production of tar sands crude releases two or three times as much carbon pollution as conventional produced crude oil. So if completed, the project would be a disaster for our climate. James Hansen, one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, has said that if the Canadian tar sands would be exploited as projected it would be “game over for the climate”. So this fight is indeed worth fighting for.

“Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children. Today, we are asking him to use that pen to to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.”

The rally - which was organized by 350.org, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and many other organizations – also called on Obama to use his powers under the Clean Air Act to cut the amount of dangerous carbon pollution emitted from dirty power plants in the country.

“This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters – dirty power plants – accountable for what they dump into the air, said Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream. “Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children”, Jones said.

For more news coverage of the rally check out the Guardian, CNN, the Huffington Post and the New York Times.


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Simon Leufstedt
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