Students join Tar Sands protest
Students use green body paint to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline during an on-campus demonstration on Nov. 11.
Eager to advocate for the welfare of our environment, six students from the College traveled to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Nov. 6, to join Tar Sands Action in protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Erin Love ’14, Christopher Abbot ’15, Alice Hotopp ’15, Kyle Lauritta-Bonometti ’15, Caroline Lauth ’15 and Matt Lipman ’15 joined more than 10,000 protesters encircling the White House in order to send a clear message about their disapproval of the Big Oil movement.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a 1700-mile pipeline proposed by TransCanada that would run from the tar sands in Canada to oil refineries in Texas. Tar Sands Action is an organization fighting to convince President Barack Obama that the damage the pipeline would cause to the environment far outweighs the conveniences it could provide. Each day, the pipeline would transport nearly one billion barrels of oil in its crudest form across the American heartland, and the possibilities of internal pipeline corrosion and underground oil spills are a large concern.
In describing the damage the tar sand oil could cause to the environment, Love said, “On the most basic level [tar sands oil is] a mixture of bitumen, sand, water and clay, but the refining process is incredibly inefficient energy-wise, wastes water and produces a lot of carbon emissions.”
Knowing that the Obama administration and State Department were considering the approval of the pipeline proposition, these students, along with countless environmentally-aware citizens from across the nation, acted to prevent what they saw as a threat to the health of our planet and its inhabitants. “I realized recently that the time to act is now,” Abbot said. “The thing that scares me is that if we opened the pipeline up, there would be more oil here and no reason to turn to alternative energies.”
The six students from the Hill spent all night Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, on a bus in order to spend Sunday afternoon in protest around the White House. “It was so cool because people came from all over to support a cause that’s at the intersection of environmental and humanitarian issues,” Love said.
Speakers at the protest rallied the audience at around 1:30 p.m. and emerged with a giant fake pipeline held aloft by the protestors encircling the White House, forming a ring that was “in some places…one person deep, in some…six people deep,” Love said. “It’s gaining more attention now, but this whole amazing group of people have been working against the pipeline for a long time,” Abbot said.
The protest resulted in success, compelling politicians to step back and reexamine the issues tied to the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama sent the proposal back to the State Department last Thursday, Nov. 10 for a thorough revision.
Lauth said, “While it’s not a complete victory, since he didn’t outright deny the permit for the pipeline, it’s looking increasingly like the pipeline will not be built.” Many analysts have expressed similar sentiments. According to Love, “This was the largest environmental protest in D.C. since the 70s, and if there’s one big project to oppose, this is it.”