Nurses, Environmentalists Lead Keystone XL Protest in San Francisco
National Nurses United lead protest against Keystone XL pipeline highlighting possible health impact.
DYAN RUIZ, PRODUCER: Over 1,000 people protested on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco against the Keystone XL pipeline.
The proposed 1,700 new miles of pipeline would connect Oklahoma to oil refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast and the Alberta tar sands to Kansas, because part of the pipeline would stretch across the Canadian-U.S. border. Ultimately the decision lies with President Barack Obama.
KATHRYN DONAHUE, CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION: We have probably over 1,000 people here marching the bridge today to protest and to ask President Obama to please honor his campaign promises to stop the Keystone pipeline. It’s a dirty fossil fuel. It will do nothing but pollute the environment more. It’s the dirtiest fossil fuel. And we need to be changing things that will help the climate, like wind energy, solar energy, things that will actually improve the climate for the people of this country.
JESS DERVIN-ACKERMAN, SIERRA CLUB, SAN FRANCISCO BAY CHAPTER: We’re in California, which is Obama’s base. We’re the supporters. We’re his supporters. And we’re here to remind him that he has a big decision before him and ask him to reject the Keystone XL.
RUIZ: Protesters say that when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, there is a false choice being presented between jobs and the environment.
MICHAEL LIGHTY, PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: Ultimately they want to make us choose between our money or our lives, and we reject that false choice of austerity as we reject this Keystone XL pipeline.
RUIZ: The protesters included environmentalists, health care providers, and native Americans. Nurses say that the project would have negative health impacts.
KATY ROEMER, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: As we start to learn more about the pipeline and learn about the health effects that happen as a result of the extraction and the transport and the burning of this fuel, we start to realize this is going to really impact our communities.
DONAHUE: I mean, it impacts the health of people in our country, it’s disastrous for the climate, and it’s more disastrous for people’s health.
RUIZ: Native Americans at the rally are protesting the route of the pipeline and what they call the desecration of the environment.
WOUNDED KNEE, CALIFORNIA MIWOK: It’s going to go through many, many sacred sites and sacred rivers and sacred mountains of indigenous people. We’re calling on all nations, all native-American nations, tribes, bands, and family clans, to come and join to stop the Keystone pipeline going through sacred sites and burial grounds of our ancestors.
RUIZ: While there are miles of existing oil pipelines, rejecting Keystone XL could begin a move to more clean energy policies.
DERVIN-ACKERMAN: So, you know, although there are many pipelines, this signals a shift to move forward on climate. So if we reject the Keystone XL and Obama and Kerry reject the Keystone XL and listen to their base, which is what they’re asking them to do, then it’ll really signify a shift that we’re moving forward towards clean energy and a clean future and safe and healthy communities for all.
RUIZ: Based on the State Department’s review of the environmental documents, the president will have to make a decision in the next few months. Meanwhile, many in Congress are getting impatient. And for his base of supporters in California, the decision is clear.
RUIZ: This is Dyan Ruiz for the The Real News Network.
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