By Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | News
Wednesday September 25, 2013
LANCASTER- To bring awareness to local communities and send a message to
U.S. President Barrack Obama, more than 200 groups in 49 states rallied
together last Saturday against the Keystone XL pipeline, the expansion
of the Canadian tar sands, and other dirty energy projects that are
worsening the climate crisis.
“The National Day of Action”
called “Draw the Line” rallies were led by 350.org, a grass roots
movement that is helping lead the fight against the Keystone XL
pipeline, pushing for fossil fuel divestment, and organizing global
Right here in Lancaster, a handful of concerned
citizens, part of the organization 350.org, held signs protesting and
demanding that President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL tar
“ 350.org is a global organization dedicated to
combating the climate crisis,” said Lancaster resident, Alison
Schweichler, LCSW. “So, it takes different forms in different areas. One
center issue we have been working on is the Keystone XL pipeline and
the decision for this pipeline is in President Obama’s hands. They took
the initiative to plan this day of action against the pipeline.”
number 350 stands for the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
What many believe is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the
Activist Dave Kowalski explained back in pre-industrial times the level was 280 parts per million and today it is 400.
it keeps climbing and it just hasn’t stopped, because more and more
fossil fuels are burning around the world,” said Kowalski. “The
scientist that choose 350, James Hansen, picked that number from looking
back in time and determining that it was the safest upper level of carbon
dioxide during which civilization has evolved. Anything above that
number we need to worry about it and start cutting back on fossil fuels
Unless there is a decrease, the risk of reaching tipping points and
irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and
major methane releases from increased permafrost melt could happen.
Schweichler commented they made not live where the pipeline is happening, but there are dangers it brings to other areas.
“It might not be in our backyard, but this pipeline would bring very
dirty tar sands oil from Canada which contributes to global warming and
harms people all around the world,” remarked Schweichler.
than 1,500 people have been arrested to stop Keystone XL and on Feb. 17
more than 40,000 people went to Washington to express to the president
that Keystone XL is not in the national interest. Credo Mobile, Other 98
and Rainforest Action Network have collected pledges from more than
75,000 people who are willing to risk arrest to stop the pipeline. A
diverse coalition of environmentalists, inner-city residents living near
refineries, and rural landowners have come together to oppose the
pipeline’s southern leg in Texas as well.
In June, pipeline
opponents were heartened by Obama’s Georgetown climate comments about
Keystone XL when he stated he would oppose the pipeline if it would
“significantly” increase greenhouse gas emission.
Schweichler, independent analysts, environmentalists, and the tar sands
industry all agree that Keystone XL will increase emissions and is the
lynch pin to the industry’s stated goal of increasing production from
today’s 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 bpd million by 2030.
the project’s 50-year timeline, Keystone XL would add between 935
million and 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to our
atmosphere at a time when the World Bank and International Energy
Administration are warning that some 66 percent of known fossil fuel
reserves must be kept in the ground if we are to have even a small
chance at stopping the climate crisis.
“We want to hold Obama to
his word that he cares about climate change and he is going to do
something about it,” said Kowalski. “So, this is a test.”
said while the proposed pipeline has brought everyone together, it
connects all of them to a whole host of other issues, including saying
no to dangerous, dirty fossil fuels and yes to renewable energy.
day also focused on reminding the community about the risks of
fracking, a natural gas drilling technique that goes miles underground
to break up shale rock using water, sand, and toxic chemicals.
Pennsylvania, residents living in areas with fracking operations have
reported flammable tap water, unexplained health problems, increased
municipal costs, degradation of air quality, huge increases in truck
traffic, and the list goes on. With fracking posed to happen in New York
State if we don’t stop it - now is the time to act, said Schweichler,
who is also a climate leader for The Climate Reality Project, an
organization lead by Al Gore that focuses on the climate crisis.
a year ago, I brought a perfect, beautiful baby into this word,”
explain Schweichler. “I’m going to do everything I can to help him have
the wonderful future he deserves. Unfortunately, his future is already
threatened by dirty energy being obtained in increasingly dangerous ways
like tar sands oil and fracking. It’s scary to look him into the eyes
and see what’s possible coming in his future if we don’t do anything
about it. It’s time we work harder at educating the public and telling
our elected officials we are going the draw the line to protect what we
love—our families, our communities, our livelihoods.”
2007, Kowalski organized a climate event in Buffalo, which he said
pretty much focused on the same issues as of today - stop burning fossil
fuels and growing a green economy based on renewable energy.
care about my children, I care about my grandchildren, and the future
generations to come, which is something we have to somehow get
industries to start doing,” said Kowalski. “You have to press. This is a
slow change. This is a monument change. Switching from fossil fuels to
renewable energy that’s huge and we have made a lot of progress since
2007 in the country.”
Over the coming months, 350.org and its
allies will continue to turn up the pressure on the White House to
reject Keystone XL and slow tar sands development. The climate campaign
plans on releasing a flashy, online presentation that makes the climate
case against Keystone XL. On October 18 through Oct. 21, thousands of
people are expected to attend US Power Shift, an activist summit hosted
by anti-pipeline group Energy Action Coalition.