Rush hour traffic at the intersection of Rtes. 20 and 27 in Wayland was different on Monday, Feb. 3. Commuters were greeted by some 50 MetroWest residents sharing their message to President Obama – reject the Keystone XL pipeline and keep your commitment to reduce carbon pollution.
The vigil was one of 200 vigils across the country timed to the release of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,179-mile project that would pump tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through the U.S., to the Gulf Coast refineries for eventual export.
The report found no major environmental objections to building the pipeline. This leaves the decision entirely to President Obama, who in June said that he would not approve the project if it “significantly exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution.”
“Of course the Keystone XL pipeline would exacerbate carbon pollution,” said Sabine von Mering of Wayland. “It’ll pump 890,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest crude oil on the planet. Tar sands oil requires 82 percent more energy and produces 82 percent more greenhouse gas than conventional fuel to go from extraction to consumer. And that’s before it even gets used. When it gets burned, it releases 17 percent more carbon dioxide than conventional fuel. Burning all the Alberta tar sands oil would deliver 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of having 6.2 million extra cars on the road for 50 years.
“Jim Hansen of NASA said, ‘Essentially, it’s game over for the planet.’ We just can’t let that happen.”
Nadia Wilkins, 7, of Weston, put it simply, “I do not want anymore crazy storms!” Amie Ghosh, 8, of Wayland, held a sign that said “Save My Future.”
“There are plenty more reasons to reject the pipeline,” said Kaat Vander Straeten of Wayland. “Imagine such a thing running through your town, so Canada can export its oil. These companies have blackened records when it comes to safety, truthfulness about their mistakes, and cleanup. Not in my backyard and not in anyone’s backyard, as far as I’m concerned.”
Katharina Wilkins of Weston agreed. “This vigil,” she said, “is not just a protest, it is a statement of solidarity between us and the people of small island nations and those standing to lose their family’s farmland, orchard or vineyard, and the Native American peoples. If President Obama approves the pipeline anyway, he betrays a set of basic values that goes far beyond the environmental concerns.”
The people on the intersection of Rtes. 20 and 27 braved the cold, snow and slush for over two hours to make sure they reached the thousands of commuters passing by.
“It’s not the first time I stood in the cold and rain to protest the pollution of our planet,” smiled Richard Vanderslice of Sudbury.
In 90 days, the President will release a National Interest Determination, which will state what course of action is most in line with protecting our national interests. A 30-day public comment period began on Feb. 5.
“We hope that our vigil encourages people to engage in that public comment, to remind the President that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in our national, nor in our global interest,” said Bob Morrison of Sudbury.
Anyone who wants more information or to get involved is welcome to a meeting of the 350MA Metrowest Node (email@example.com), an initiative for a grassroots coalition to address climate change and build a better future beyond fossil fuels.
This article appeared in the Wayland Town Crier, February 6.