Tar Sands Protest: ‘When Ordinary People do Extraordinary Things’

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/10-4

by Eric Hansen
Published on Saturday, September 10, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Crisis clarifies our deepest beliefs and affections, our spirituality. In turn, these moments of great clarity prompt ordinary people to do extraordinary things — and historic changes happen.

Fifty-some years ago the Freedom Riders defied Klu Klux Klan church bombings and bus burnings to end racial segregation in the Jim Crow South.

Today, the crisis is catastrophic climate change — carbon pollution that threatens all life on our planet — and a new generation of Freedom Riders is returning home from peaceful protests, and mass arrests, at the White House.

The sheer dignity and poise of the demonstrators is stunning as you view the photographs – wave after wave — day after day for two weeks — more than twelve hundred people stepped forward, peacefully sat down in front of the White House fence and were arrested. This was the largest act of civil disobedience on this continent during this century.

They are asking President Obama to deny a permit for one of the oil industry’s pet projects – the Keystone XL Pipeline – a project that noted NASA climate scientist James Hansen says is literally the fuse on North America’s largest carbon bomb: the massive Tar Sands oil extraction project in Alberta, Canada. The decision is Obama’s alone, not Congress’.

The oil industry wants a pipeline from the Tar Sands to a deepwater port, enabling them to pump oil to the global market. Opposition from Canadian citizens has discouraged them from proposing a pipeline west from Alberta to the Pacific coast. Now, the oil developers want to run a pipeline through the Plains States to the Gulf Coast in Texas.

Local resistance is ferocious. Nebraska’s governor and both U.S. Senators that represent that state have come out against the project. Bloomberg News put it like this: “The bottom line: A $7 billion pipeline from Canada has angered Nebraska farmers and ranchers who value the state’s precious water over oil.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/10-4

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