The Common Good

Say NO to the Pipeline

Sojourners Associate Editor Rose Marie Berger addressed hundreds gathered near Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. last week, to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

If approved by the Obama administration, the pipeline would transport crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada 1,600 miles south -- through the American Heartland -- to the oil fields of Texas near the Gulf of Mexico.

In the September/October issue of Sojourners Magazine, environmental activist Bill McKibben called the Keystone proposal, "the ugliest project you've probably never heard of." McKibben, author of The End of Nature and founder of the group 350.org, explained:

And make no mistake -- that pipeline is a radical act. It helps unlock the planet's second-largest pool of carbon, outmatched only by the oil wells of Saudi Arabia. There's enough carbon up there that if you could burn it all off you'd raise the atmosphere's carbon concentration from its current 390 parts per million to nearly 600. Even burning a much smaller amount of these tar sands would mean that it's "essentially game over" for the climate, according to [NASA scientist James] Hansen.

The pipeline is ugly for other reasons too -- it trashes native lands and endangers prime American farmland (can you imagine running an oil pipeline atop the Ogallala Aquifer?). But it's beautiful for one reason: President Obama, all by himself, can stop it. Since it crosses national borders, it requires the man himself to sign a piece of paper saying it's "in the national interest."

On Oct. 7, the State Department held its final public hearings on the proposed U.S.-Canada pipeline, including testimony from various activists and faith leaders, such as the Rev. Jacek Orzechowski of the Franciscan Action Network, the Rev. Mari Castellanos of the United Church of Christ, John Elwood of the Evangelical Environmental Network and Joelle Novey of the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light.

C-SPAN has made video of the lengthy hearings (4+ hours) available online. Watch HERE.

A decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is expected from the Obama administration by the end of the year.

The video of Rose Marie Berger was produced by Heather Wilson, associate web developer at Sojourners. Cathleen Falsani, Sojourners' Web Editor and Director of New Media, also contributed to this report.

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