Fun? Oh, no. Intense and meaningful? Yes.
What a day. First a rush into the building of an environmental services company and a bit of chanting in the lobby. Then the police. Then the handcuffs and paddy wagon. All that went by pretty quickly.
Then came the waiting in the precinct holding cell while we were processed; that was more than 10 hours. Plenty of time for us ladies to get to know a little about each other. We were grandmothers fighting for their grandchildren, and college girls fighting for their own future. Teachers, writers, a rancher, a welder and veterans — just among the women! All sorts of good, regular people.
What in the world possessed us to gather there? Why did I (for example) leave the bird song and the mountains to go to the steamy city and commit myself to the uncertain prospects of civil disobedience?
It’s all about climate change. The several hundred of us participating in this action (not everyone was arrested) have decided that in order to call attention to the danger of global warming, we would put ourselves on the line. The fossil fuel business — the wealthiest industry in the world — has unlimited resources to steer public opinion and throws millions into the ads that run continuously, spreading disinformation or downright lies. We have only ourselves, our conscience and our determination.
As more and more people lose their homes to wildfire, flooding and superstorms; as whole communities and ways of life are wiped away by rising sea levels; as our water and food supplies are coming under greater and greater pressure, the human costs of further inaction on the issue of greenhouse gases is made more abundantly clear. This is not just an “environmental” issue; it is a human rights issue.
The prevention of further construction of the Keystone Pipeline could become a line in the sand, marking the point at which the heedless rush to develop any and all sources of carbon was put to a stop. Most experts agree that the pipeline is essential to the full development of the tar sands and it quite clearly will increase the overall amount of carbon that is released into the air.
Since the pipeline is bringing tar sands down from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries and must cross our border, the decision for its go-ahead is up to President Obama, after it has been reviewed by the State Department. There is no input from Congress.
In this specific instance of civil disobedience, we are pointing to the conflict of interest inherent in the fact that a consulting firm, Environmental Resources Management, that works for the oil and gas industry was chosen to prepare the environmental impact study for the State Department.
And we are emphasizing that ERM issued sworn statements denying their conflict of interest, when a quick look at their website (hardly a secret source) reveals the depth of their connection to oil and gas. The same moral corruption that allows them to deny their connection to the fossil fuel industry allows them to declare the pipeline won’t increase the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere — a laughable assertion.
This pipeline will ship Canadian oil to world markets (with China a principal partner.) It will not lower U.S. gas prices or offer long term jobs to Americans. It will however, endanger the water sources across numerous western states and result in American farmers losing their land to a foreign company. These facts demand action.
Our effort — a demonstration at ERM’s offices — was aimed at bringing these facts before the American people.