Keystone XL: Bye Bye, Again…

IMG_6278On Tuesday, January 13th, 2015, all around the United States – parents, children, grandparents, preachers, teachers and farmers – folks from all walks and corners of life will be getting together to host events to show President Obama “we have his back” and stand with him as we all say NO (AGAIN!), to the Keystone XL pipeline and YES to a renewable, sustainable future and now.

Find an event near you. Our ClimateMama will be speaking at an event in Bloomfield, NJ at 4pm. If you happen to be in the neighborhood join us! If not, her message to Climate Mamas and Papas is below. Bottom line: “We are putting our elected officials on notice. We want them to join us and lead the way to a sustainable future or get out of our way as we go there without them.”

ClimateMama Harriet Shugarman
No Keystone XL Rally
Bloomfield, NJ, Tuesday, January 13th.

Greetings everyone and thanks for being here!

I know each of us here has our own personal reasons for showing up on short notice and on this freezing day! I’d like to take a minute and share with you my personal relationship with the Keystone XL and why I feel it’s so important we keep showing up and being heard on this crazy journey we find ourselves on.

So, while I have lived in NY and NJ for more then 20 years, and am raising my children in the northeast, I was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta, and most of my family still lives in Western Canada. For those of you who don’t know, Edmonton is called the “gateway to the north;” the staging point for all things tar sands related. Edmonton is the main coordinating hub for Fort McMurray the home of the tar sands, a northern outpost city, almost 300 miles farther north.

In July of 2011 I visited Fort McMurray for the first time. While I was there I received my first e-mail and call to arms about the Keystone XL pipeline. This was the first mailing on Keystone that had sent, and it seemed strangely serendipitous that I was at the starting point of this pipeline when the e-mail reached me.

photo by Jamie Henn

photo by Jamie Henn

To make a long story short, I was arrested for the first time in my life just 6 weeks after my visit to Fort McMurray. The day before my arrest, I drove from Northern New Jersey to Washington with my children, who were then 11 and 12 years old at the time. Together, we attended a nonviolent direct action training the night before I was arrested. I wanted them to learn first hand what was in store for their mother the next day. Three months later, in November 2011, my husband, children and I once again travelled to Washington to join hands with 12,000 others to ask the President to join us in stopping Keystone XL. He listened, and he did. We have all been involved in this Keystone XL fight ever since, President Obama included. I know many of you here today have your own version of YOUR Keystone story too.

So, on behalf of Climate Mama and The Mothers Project, two organizations which I represent here today, and on behalf of my children and all our members and their families who are found all around the country and in over 110 countries around the world, I want to say thank YOU, whether today is your first Keystone protest, or your 10th. Together we have put this Keystone XL project on the map and we have emboldened others around our country and around the world to fight other fossil fuel infrastructure projects. We have woken people up and helped them understand why we must pay attention and demand action. We can’t sit silently by while our addiction to fossil fuels – rather then being treated and cured – is being perpetuated. Who knew we would all become pipeline experts, learning their names, their routes and what they would carry…

97Scientists the world over have told us that we must keep 90% of all known fossil fuels in the ground so that we can immediately and drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and give ourselves a fighting chance of creating a livable planet for us and our children. Yet, here we are again, fighting this Hydra, a beast who when one of its head is cut off, another comes roaring back with in it’s place.

Thank you for still fighting…we have accomplished so much and together we are helping people see the stark and scary realities that our dependence on all forms of fossil fuels has put in motion. At the same time we are also creating the hope that there are other viable energy options, alternatives and ways forward, we are creating climate hope. Today’s vigils and gatherings are for all our elected officials, at all levels, national state and local, to put them on notice, we want them to join us and lead the way to a sustainable future or get out of our way as we go there without them!

We have many, many pressing issues in this country, yet the first order of business of our new Congress was to put forward a bill to force the construction of this infrastructure project which would help enrich a foreign company and carry a foreign country’s product from one end of our country to another so it can be refined and then shipped to international markets. What we need to ask our representatives is why this is their first priority, and why issues like education, health care and immigration are not? Why, when in our own country our existing infrastructure is falling apart, and by rebuilding and repairing our broken bridges, tunnels and roads we could create lasting jobs and fix real problems, these issues are not priorities.

And for us in NJ, we must ask loudly why our Governor and his son were visiting Alberta this past December, talking up the Keystone XL Pipeline. What was the benefit of this visit for New Jersey? This is the same governor who upon taking office killed a huge transportation project in our state, which would have taken thousands of cars off our road and put 1000’s of people to work in NJ. What will keystone XL do for us in NJ? Nothing..

At ClimateMama we are actively engaged in many local pipeline and infrastructure fights, including here in New Jersey; the Pilgrim oil pipeline, PennEast and the Port Ambrose LNG project to name just a few. At the same time we are championing renewable energy projects and ideas like the amazing solar arrays at William Paterson University, and the proposed Fisherman energy wind farm off our coast. We have found that for us, fighting against fossil fuel infrastructure and for clean energy are two important ways we feel energized and stay hopeful that we can and will work towards making our future and now, and that of our children’s a livable one.


Climate Mama

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