Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UWL Students Protest Pipeline, by Megan Sukovich

Nine UWL students traveled to Washington D.C. on March 2 to participate in the largest act of youth civil disobedience that the White House in a generation, according to participants.  An additional protest will occur on April 27th, before President Obama has to make his final about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

UWL student, Natalie Newcomer, was one of the 398 arrests of civil disobedience for “chaining” herself to the fence of the White House to represent commitment to the cause.  

1,200 youth gathered in Georgetown and began a march towards the nation’s capitol. Posters in hand, they chanted, “Hey Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama,” in hopes to persuade President  Obama against approving the creation of the pipeline.

The company TransCanada wants to bring tar sands oil all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. The company states that it will be the safest oil pipeline in America, despite history of frequent oil spills.

In 2011, TransCanada was responsible for 12 oil spills. One of its pipelines, Exxon, spilled 1,200 barrels into the Yellowstone River in July of 2011. A separate pipeline was responsible for 21,000 barrels of oil spilled into North Dakota.

The pipeline would carry over 800,000 barrels of semi-viscous, carbon intensive, and toxic tar sands oil. It increases cancer and asthma, destroys ecosystems, and infringes the treaty rights of Canadian First Nations.  The Environmental Protection Agency notes that the tar sands carbon emissions are 82% greater than the average crude refined oil in the United States.

The youth fight for climate protection against the carbon emissions that would be released by the deadly oil. Newcomer protests to make a change. “Today’s youth want to send a strong message to Obama that they are not okay with the pipeline. We need to find long term energy sources that are renewable and sustainable,” says Newcomer.

The pipeline would exist well after 2020. Newcomer believes that “Our small steps are for our future and our children’s future.”

“It was a neat experience to make a difference and it was a cool chance to bring UWL students together. No change will happen if no body does anything,” states Newcomer.