By Erica H. Mattison, SpeakingofJustice.com Correspondent
If you went by the White House on November 6, 2011 you would have seen a diverse gathering of thousands of people expressing their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a project which would transport crude oil 1,700 miles from Canada to Texas. Protestors are urging President Obama to reject the proposal, which they fear will do far more harm than good.
The protest was a long time coming, according to some of its organizers. “What you see today, with these thousands of people surrounding the White House, is the result of years of work,” says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She stresses the importance of multiple groups working together on this harmonious campaign, which has a shared vision of “No expansion of tar sands; no Keystone XL Pipeline.”
Why are protests like this necessary?
Since the 1970s when several environmental protection laws were enacted, there have been waves of efforts to erode those law, says John H. Adams, Founding Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Clean Air and Water Acts have been susceptible to political opposition, represented by efforts to slash funding and loosen restrictions. These efforts are “disastrous to our public health and climate,” Adams says. He expects that people and courts are going to play a key role in ensuring that these laws keep their teeth. Adams is hopeful the protest will prompt President Obama to reject the pipeline. “I hope it gives him courage. I hope he does the right thing, and I hope all these people then go out and support him,” states Adams.
Groups plan to keep working together to make sure the pipeline is rejected, says Casey-Lefkowitz. The coalition opposing Keystone XL are engaged in a variety of efforts, including communicating with federal agencies, elected officials, and people in Nebraska concerned about the damage this project could do to their state. “We’re in a long-term fight on climate and clean energy,” says Casey-Lefkowitz. “This pipeline is one moment for uniting the community and for turning to our President for the right decision, but it’s just one of what will be many moments where we have to come together like we did today.”