New Jersey mother of Two Arrested in Washington DC – Protesting Tar Sands Pipeline!

Question to self, do I want my kids to read this about me, and….do I believe in serendipity? [Serendipity: the

Photo Credit: Franke James

phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for.] A week after I visited the Canadian Tar Sands “to see for myself” what that area is all about, I received emails from several of my friends and colleagues, encouraging me to join them in Washington, DC for a “peaceful protest” against the proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas. This pipeline has been called the fuse to the biggest carbon BOMB in the world. Serendipitous? You tell me!

Do I want my kids to know that I feel so strongly about their future that I am willing to get arrested to protect it? Answer: definitely!

My family thinks of me as the “unlikely environmentalist.” I grew up appreciating the outdoors, yet not particularly conscious of my carbon footprint. In fact until a few years ago I have to say I wasn’t really aware of the size let alone what went into creating my personal carbon footprint! I still travel a lot by airplane, a big addition to my carbon footprint – a point one of my friends loves to keep reminding me of – although I try to buy offsets for my travel, this fact remains… My family is working on making our house more energy efficient, but it still is not as “leak free” as it could be. We are uber recyclers but as I found out during my “plastic free week” with plastic seems to be a ubiquitous part of my life, and one almost impossible to get rid of.

All that being said, I am signed up for a Tar Sands protest at the

Tar Sands Tailings Ponds 2011

White House in Washington, DC that has the potential to get the protesters arrested. Do I feel this cause is important enough to take these risks? YES I do. I hope my kids will be proud of me, and that it builds on my legacy and actions to try to raise awareness to the growing reality of climate change that is threatening my children’s future and mine. I want to WAKE UP my neighbors, friends, colleagues and total strangers by showing them that a mom of two ‘tweens thinks that these risks are worth it. After visiting the Tar Sands myself, I realize that stopping production from that end is highly unlikely unless the price of oil somehow plummets.

We have become too complacent, and are living in the age of the “emperor who wore no clothes” – we are too afraid to question the impact of the energy we crave, as the results would be too disturbing. Witnessing first hand the scale of production underway in northern Alberta to meet our current and future fossil fuel demands that sustain our current energy intensive lifestyle, was eye opening to say the least. These massive development projects make the Great Wall of China look like Tom Sawyer’s picket fence! The scale of the Tar Sands mining operations are set to double in the near future if the XL pipeline is approved.

As I see it, our only opportunity to slow down and possibly delay the massive development set to take place in the Tar Sands, until such time that we can ramp up our renewable energy capacity, will be to stop the flow of oil from the Tar Sands to refinery sites. The line in the sand for the US will be this XL Keystone Pipeline expansion. I want to be part of the attempt to stop it. I want to show my kids, that I am trying to do all I can for their future and for mine.

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5 Responses to New Jersey mother of Two Arrested in Washington DC – Protesting Tar Sands Pipeline!

  1. Gail Zawacki says:

    Hi, Harriet!

    I live in New Jersey and just found your blog. It’s great to know there is someone else in this state active about climate! I have also signed up to go to DC and be arrested at the Tar Sands protest – probably 8/31 – 9/1.

    I had an idea once that went nowhere, to start a “mothers against climate change” group but I like “Climate Mamas and Papas” better. It’s an appeal to the best of our natures.

    Initially I became interested in climate because I realized the trees in our state are dying. At first I assumed it had to be climate change although a couple of years ago I learned it’s actually from the air pollution (tropospheric ozone). And I’ve also found that trees all over the world are dying too.

    I still am concerned about climate of course, but on a shorter time frame I think losing trees (and farm products) is an even more urgent existential threat, so I try to raise awareness about that (to little avail!). Anyway if you are interested in that topic take a look at my blog, the introductory page:

    If you get any more info about the tar sands actioin as it is relevant to New Jerseyans, please let me know – or any other local activities for that matter. I would love to get involved and meet other people who are trying to do something useful – I am surrounded by ultra-conservatives!


    Gail Zawacki
    Oldwick, NJ

    • Harriet says:

      foodandwaterwatch.orgThanks Gail..lots happening in NJ on climate change and environmental issues….a few updates and sites for you to check out, if you haven’t already… (check out NJ Chapter events),,

      Sign up to hear Dr. James Hansen at Bergen Community College on September 22nd,, spread the word and sign up for, September 14-15th…stay tuned for a local NJ “Climate Mama” event coming soon…Welcome aboard, glad to be in touch!!

  2. Thanks for your testimony, sister. Hope to see you in D.C. next month.

  3. Green Bean says:

    Rock on, sista! Go you. Thank you for the inspiration.

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