I’ve quickly come to discover that the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts is home to a community of environmental activists – ranging from students to professors, young families to retirees. On Saturday, September 21, hundreds of people gathered in the center of the Amherst to “Draw the Line at Keystone XL.” This day of action was organized by 350.org as a way of showing resistance to the fossil fuel industry, as well as asking President Obama to say no to the proposed pipeline. For those of you not familiar with Keystone XL, it’s a pipeline being built by the TransCanada Company that would go from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico carrying tar sands-based oil to oil refineries in the U.S. I do admit that I don’t know as much about Keystone as I would like and I still have a lot of reading to do. However, I know that the environmental degradation associated with the pipeline is vast and intense. According to the State Department, the tar sands oil is 19% more greenhouse intensive than conventional fossil fuel. The threat it poses to freshwater supplies could be detrimental and the proposed route of the pipeline crosses the Ogallala Aquifer and the Sandhills. Even though proponents of the pipeline say it may bring the U.S closer to energy security, it has the potential of bringing the country much closer to water insecurity. Not to mention the risk of hard to clean up oil spills and these are only some of the risks associated with Keystone XL.
Anyways, this was my first real experience in climate activism and it was an empowering way to spend a fall day. Amherst was one of hundreds of cities across the country to have “Draw the Line” events. Not only did I feel like I was doing my part to educate myself and others about a huge decision with even huger environmental consequences, it was great to be part of this concerned and passionate community. I was able to connect with the other students in attendance from Umass and with students from the surrounding colleges including Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and Smith College. Together, we were simply a group of global citizens concerned about the future. Oh and have I mentioned we were carrying a giant “pipeline” through town? It definitely caught people’s attention. It was pretty cool to look at the pictures of similar events from cities across the country, as well as have some of my peers ask me about the event and about Keystone XL.
Next weekend I’ll be attending the Western Massachusetts Climate Action Conference and I’m really excited to stay involved with this community, as well as my school’s Divestment group. The decisions being made around topics such as Keystone XL may have huge implications on our futures and the future of the planet. I think it’s vital that young people understand that their voices do matter in these decisions and we have to stand up in educational and peaceful ways.
I urge everyone to check out http://www.350.org , learn about Keystone XL, participate in a climate action rally, and remember that your voice matters. And check out all the awesome pictures from national Draw the Line events!!
Until next time!