The Common Good

Encircle the White House Nov. 6 to Stop the Keystone Pipeline

On November 6, I will join Jim Wallis, staff members from Sojourners, and 15,000 others in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Park to tell President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline project.

If approved by the Obama administration, the pipeline would transport non-conventional tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, 1,700 miles south -- through the American Heartland -- to the oil refineries in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Since it's a Sunday, we want people to take morning worship into the streets.

Go to church. Then take the gospel to the White House.

As people of faith, we need to stand up for the millions of people and wildlife who will be negatively affected by its presence.

There are numerous reasons to object to this pipeline:

  • Privately held TransCanada, the pipeline owner, is responsible for 12 oil spills in the U.S. in 2011;
  • Tar sands strip mining in Alberta, Canada, already involves clear-cutting boreal forests, breaking indigenous treaties, irreversibly damaging water quality, and introducing toxic waste into the food chain affecting human health.
  • Pipeline jobs are few, temporary, poorly paid, and often given to migrant workers;
  • The pipeline extension threatens the Ogallala Aquifer, America's largest freshwater reserve;
  • And it takes 8,800 pounds of earth and tar sands, plus an average of 155 gallons of fresh water, to produce one barrel of tar sands oil, which will fill half a tank of a Chevy Suburban.

But there is one BIG reason that makes this pipeline different:

"Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize the climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts," says NASA's leading climate scientist James Hansen, who was arrested with religious leaders as part of an earlier protest. "If the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency points out that Canadian tar sands carbon emissions are "82 percent greater than the average crude refined in the U.S., on a well-to-tank basis."

This pipeline is a climate killer.

Providing a presidential permit for the pipeline is the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election. The proposed pipeline has sparked nationwide opposition from disparate groups. Dozens of religious leaders, Midwestern ranchers, former Obama campaigners, leading climate scientists, and young voters whose first election was in 2008 all are telling Obama not to issue the permit.

Short Time-line on Tar Sands Action in D.C.

Let's rewind to August, 2011:

Police in Washington, D.C., arrested 1,252 people as part of a 15-day event at the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. The demonstration, initiated by environmentalist Bill McKibben, was the largest on global warming in U.S. history.

Then in October, faith leaders gathered again. Watch part of my speech below:

Say NO to the Pipeline from Sojourners on Vimeo.

Already, more than 651,530 people signed online petitions directed at Obama, urging him to refuse to permit the XL pipeline and instead invest in developing safe, clean energy.

We still need your help.

If you live in the D.C. metro area, please join us at 2 p.m. Sunday in Lafayette Park to protest the pipeline.

If you cannot protest in person, please phone the White House (202-456-1111) and tell Obama this Keystone pipeline project must be stopped.

Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners associate editor, was an organizer for the Tar Sands religious witness. Learn more about the pipeline at www.tarsandsaction.org.

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