Local activists participated in a protest Monday afternoon at Bo Diddley Plaza that called on President Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The protest was part of a national campaign led by Credo, and members of Climate Lobby, Sierra Club and other organizations were in attendance.
Following the release of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, locals urged the president to keep his commitment to reduce carbon pollution and reject the pipeline.
“We’re here today,” said Bob Tancig, co-coordinator of Gainesville’s Citizens Climate Lobby, “to try to express to the public the consequences of developing the Keystone XL pipeline, and the primary reason that we think it’s a problem is that by making the development and delivery of very dirty tar sands oil to the marketplace that will be unnecessarily increasing the amount of CO2 emissions that are emitted into the atmosphere.”
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada and across the Midwest United States ending in Texas for export. According to the TransCanada website, the pipeline will have the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast and Midwest refineries, reducing U.S. dependence on oil from other countries.
“I strongly oppose the pipeline largely because it is going to increase consumption,” said Anthony Oliver-Smith, a protestor and climate change and national hazards researcher on the Scientific Committee on Disaster Risk of the International Council of Science.
“I think it’s very important that we reduce consumption, and the pipeline, like the transport of oil by trains, will only facilitate increased consumption which will make climate change just that much worse,” Oliver-Smith said.
The first application for the Keystone XL pipeline was published August 26, 2011. The proposed route included the same U.S.-Canada border crossing, but the route through the U.S. is different.
Over 400,000 letters, cards, emails, e-comments and telephone conversations were received from the public from June through July 2012 for the State Department to take into consideration concerning a draft of the Keystone Pipeline, according to the U.S. State Department.
Sally Dickinson, a protester and two-year member of Gainesville’s Citizens Climate Lobby, said she has a sister in Ottawa, Canada who started another Citizens Climate Lobby in Ottawa.
Dickinson said she heard from her sister a majority of Canadians do not think the pipeline should be constructed; however, she said they are not living in Alberta and are also benefiting from the revenue.
“I think Mr. Obama is in a tough position because Canadians are wonderful, wonderful neighbors, but this is still the wrong thing to do,” Dickinson said. “I think people from both political parties are against the Keystone Pipeline and speaking against our reliance on fossil fuels. The Keystone XL pipeline is symbolic of that in a way.”