Day after Obama re-elected, group plans massive march over Keystone Pipeline and climate change

Jeremy Hance
November 07, 2012

 Protestor against Keystone XL Pipeline escorted away after arrest. Photo by:Josh Lopez.
Protestor against Keystone XL Pipeline escorted away after arrest in 2010. Photo by: Josh Lopez/Tar Sands Action.

Hours after President Obama's historic re-election, climate group 350.org announced a massive rally and march to apply pressure on the administration to reject the Keystone Pipeline, which would bring tar sands from Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico and an international market. In 2011 the group and its partners carried out large-scale civil disobedience action, resulting in over 1,000 arrests, and a rally 12,000-strong that literally encircled the White House. The pressure, which was also brought to Obama campaign offices around the country, helped spur the Obama Administration to reconsider the pipeline, which has sat in limbo since then.

"One year ago we surrounded the White House to ask President Obama to be the leader we hoped for. Now is his chance to live up to our highest expectations. We can't afford anything less," 350.org wrote to supporters. "We're not going to wait for him to come around either—if we want change, it comes from us. And it is coming."

To that end, the group, which is among the most successful in raising awareness around climate change, is planning a rally for Washington D.C.'s Freedom Plaza that will also march to the White House. Civil disobedience is not on the agenda this time, instead in an online message the group says that the purpose is to "let the President know we haven't forgotten, and that our conviction hasn't cooled."

While discussion of climate change was conspicuously absent from almost the entirety of the Presidential campaign, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has effectively brought the issue back into the media light. Although more research is needed, climatologists say that hurricanes are likely becoming more destructive—like Sandy's 14 foot storm surge—due to rising sea levels and heavy precipitation both due to a warming ocean. In addition, recent research theorizes that the record sea ice melt in the Arctic this year could have created the weather phenomenon—known as a blocking pattern—that pushed Sandy into the coastline rather then perishing out at sea.

Sandy was not the only natural disaster to hit the U.S. In the last 9 months alone the country has suffered a series of abnormal heatwaves and wildfires, and one of the worst droughts in decades. Scientists say climate change is increasing the likelihood of such extreme weather events just as a baseball player on steroids increases their likelihood of hitting a home run.

Opposition against Keystone Pipeline runs high due to the higher carbon footprint of tar sands versus conventional oil, as well as fears of oil spills in environmentally sensitive areas. Proponents say it would bring jobs and oil from a friendly neighbor, however much of the oil would be sent overseas and most of the jobs (estimated at 5,000-6,000 by the U.S. State Department) would be temporary.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (November 07, 2012).

Day after Obama re-elected, group plans massive march over Keystone Pipeline and climate change.