Washington DC climate change rally brings 35,000 protestors together, but activists question if real change in Obama’s policies will spring from non- disruptive protest
PEOPLE CAME FROM NEAR
SOT (Protestor): I’m from Washington, DC
SOT (Protestor): I came from Dallas, Texas
THEY CAME ALL THIS WAY TO MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR THE LARGEST CLIMATE CHANGE RALLY IN HISTORY. ON FEBRUARY 17TH AN ESTIMATED 35, 000 PEOPLE GATHERED IN THE NATION’S CAPITOL, CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES.
THE MAIN BATTLE IS OVER THE 2,000- MILE LONG KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE. TRANSCANDA CORPORATIONS’ 7 BILLION DOLLAR PROPOSED TUBE WOULD RUN FROM CANADA’S TAR SANDS ACROSS THE US TO OIL REFINERIES IN TEXAS. ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARGUE THAT THIS PIPELINE RISKS ENDANGERING SOME OF AMERICA’S LARGEST WATER SOURCES AND WILL HEAT THE PLANET FURTHER BY EMITTING DANGEROUS LEVELS OF CARBON-DIOXIDE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.
THE NONPARTISAN CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE FOUND THAT BECAUSE TAR SANDS OIL IS MMORE INTENSE THAN CRUDE OIL, THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE WOULD INCREASE U.S. GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION UP TO 21 MILLION METRIC TONS ANNUALLY — THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF AN ADDITION 4 MILLION CARS ON THE ROAD.
WE SPOKE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AUTHOR PATRICK BOND WHO JOURNEYED FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO ATTEND THE RALLY. HE SAYS WHAT HAPPENS IN WASHINGTON NOT ONLY AFFECTS AMERICANS BUT THE ENTIRE WORLD.
SOT (Patrick Bond, Director, Centre for Civil Society): If they extend this, there are places Venezuela and Colorado and North Dakota, all sorts of places all around the world, we could see unlimited extraction and extraordinary destruction in the immediate term as well as the long term. It’s as James Hansen put it, it’s a carbon bomb.
THE RALLY TOOK PLACE IN THE WAKE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S RECENT STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS IN WHICH HE MENTIONED TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
SOT (President Barack Obama): I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.
BUT WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL OR WILL NOT DO HAS YET TO BE DETERMINED. BECAUSE THE PIPELINE CROSSES INTERNATIONAL BORDERS THE PRESIDENT GETS THE FINAL SAY AND GROUPS LIKE 350.ORG ARE HOPING THAT THE LARGE RALLY WILL GET THE PRESIDENT TO REJECT THE PLAN ENTIRELY.
SOT (Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org): Above all, stop the Keystone pipeline. The President can do that with a single stroke of his pen and if he does, he will become the first world leader to veto a big project because it’s bad for the climate.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS BILL MCKIBBEN ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS WERE ARRESTED ON FEB. 13TH AFTER BLOCKING A THROUGHFARE IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE AND REFUSING TO MOVE. THE GROUP WAS RELEASED LATER IN THE DAY AND EACH MEMBER PAID A $100 FINE.
350.ORG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MAY BOEVE SAYS THAT SHE SEES THESE ACTION AS A START FOR MORE ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND AT VERY LEAST HER ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS THOSE WHO TAKE TO THE FRONTLINE.
SOT (MAY BOEVE, Executive Director, 350.org): We think that’s it’s increasingly important to take action now. That’s why 48 leaders risked arrest at the White House to tell the President that we want him to say no the Keystone XL pipeline.
STANDUP (Jessica Desvarieux, Washington):
In response to the Keystone XL pipeline, tens of thousands of protestors created a human pipeline towards the White House. Activists point out this historic level of participation as a sign of the growing number of people speaking out against global warming. But the jury is still out about how effective this rally will be in changing President Obama’s policies. Some activists remain skeptical.
SOT (Kevin Zeese, Co-director, It’s Our Economy): One reason we started the Occupy Movement in Washington DC at Freedom Plaza with other folks is because we found these Sunday demonstrations not to be very effective. Obama won’t even be home. They were effective as far as raising people’s morale and getting people together and forming connections. But as far as actually affecting the policy of the government, they were pretty ineffective. So I hope that this rally is the beginning or next stop really in building a real resistance movement to the Keystone pipeline.
THE REAL RESISTANCE SAYS ACTIVIST KEVIN ZEESE HAS ALREADY STARTED WITH MAJOR ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE BY THE GROUP TAR SANDS BLOCKADE.
IN THIS VIDEO FROM TAR SANDS BLOCKADE, YOU CAN SEE ACTRESS DARRYL HANNAH AND EAST TEXAS RANCH FARMER ELEANOR FAIRCHILD TRYING TO OBSTRUCT CONSTRUCTION OF THE PIPELINE, WHICH WILL BE BUILT ON FAIRCHILD’S LAND.
SOT (ELEANOR FAIRCHILD): Get off my land, period. And I don’t want tar sands anywhere in the United States.
STARTING IN AUGUST OF LAST YEAR, THE GROUP ORGANIZED ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IN PARTS OF OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS.
TAR SANDS BLOCKADE SPOKESMAN RAMSEY SPRAGUE SAYS THE CLIMATE CHANGE RALLY COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE PEOPLE TO TAKE DIRECT ACTION TO STOP THE PIPELINE.
SOT( RAMSEY SPRAGUE, SPOKESMAN, TAR SANDS BLOCKADE) To stop Keyston XL and prevent its construction is a pretty clear prerequisite for a survivable healthy future. There have been dozens of instances of dozens of people taking direct action to stop Keystone XL. Tar Sands Blockade has documented those efforts and told the stores of those who feel compelled to not wait for regulators and to not wait for President Obama to intervene on their behalf.
BUT FOR MANY LIKE PROTESTORS WHO VOTED FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA IN LAST YEAR’S ELECTION, THEY ARE WAITING FOR THE PRESIDENT TO TAKE BOLDER ACTION IN HIS SECOND TERM.
SOT (Protestor): President Obama we heard your inaugural day address, and we want you to be bold with your progressive agenda. You have been elected a second time for people who want to see you act.
EVEN ON THE CAPITOL HILL, THE HEAT IS BEING TURNED UP FOR POLICY CHANGE TOWARDS GLOBAL WARMING. ON FEBRUARY 15TH, A NEW CAUCUS OF NEARLY TWO DOZEN DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE WAS FORMED. THE SAFE CLIMATE CAUCUS WILL TAKE TO THE HOUSE FLOOR AND TALK EVERY DAY ABOUT THE URGENT NEED TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE.
CALIFORNIA DEMOCRAT REP. HENRY WAXMAN SAYS THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH COULD USE ITS POWER TO BYPASS THE REPUBLICAN- CONTROLLED HOUSE AND TIGHTEN REGULATIONS WITHIN AGENCIES.
SOT (Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA) IN – 2:21: The department of energy can more forward on greater energy efficiency particularly with appliances, which brings not only a reduction in emissions but in costs for the consumers. The State of Department can do a lot by renegotiating the Montreal Protocol. That dealt with the upper ozone layer but eliminated that they are adding to climate change. There are other ideas and in fact the White House and I and many of the people here have joined together in a bicameral group and we hope to get different agencies to make further suggestions.
THE REAL NEWS SPOKE WITH CAUCUS MEMBER VIRGINIA REPRESENTATIVE JIM MORAN WHO SAYS THE REAL ACTION MUST TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON FOR MEMBERS TO TAKE NOTICE.
SOT (Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA): The only way that we are going to take constructive steps to address the reality of climate change is through political mobilization. This is after all a democracy. And the Congress is supposed to be responsive to its constituents. I think that the vast majority of constituents of this country know that climate change is reality, and that it’s a very serious threat. And it’s going to cause more and more devastation. Tens of billions of dollars that were not anticipated are going to have to be funded as we did with Hurricane Sandy. And they’re trying to get the Congress to listen. Unfortunately, the majority of the House, the Republicans, are adamantly opposed. Not because their constituents want them to be but because their political contributors who have a lot of money at stake gas emission and not being conscious with regard to the public health.
WITH THE RALLY IN WASHINGTON ALREADY IN HISTORY BOOKS, ACTIVISTS ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE NEXT DEMONSTRATION.
TAR SANDS BLOCKADE IS PLANNING A WEEK OF ACTIONS FROM MARCH 16TH THROUGH MARCH 23RD WHERE THEY WILL BE TARGETING THE OFFICES OF TRANSCANDA AND THEIR INVESTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS.
WITH TENS OF THOUSANDS SPEAKING OUT, ACTIVISTS HOPE THIS IS SIGN OF MORE TO COME.
FOR THE REAL NEWS NETWORK, JESSICA DESVARIEUX, WASHINGTON.