Thousands of activists gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday for the Forward on Climate Rally, urging President Obama to take action against climate change and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
February 17, 2013

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UPDATE: “Forward on Climate” Rally: More Than 35,000 strong March on Washington for Climate Action

Today, during President’s Day weekend, more than 35,000 people are marching to the President's doorstep to support immediate action to contain climate change. People from more than 30 states across the country whose land, homes and health is being threatened by the climate crisis, as well as students, scientists, indigenous community members and many others are participating in this largest climate rally in U.S. history.

“For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here--science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money,” said founder Bill McKibben.

Rally participants are calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and put limits on dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's dirtiest power plants. Much of President Obama's legacy will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in fighting the climate crisis. Rally participants are looking for him move forward on his recent State of the Union address declaration when he said, “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

“Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children. Today, we are asking him to use that pen to to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.”

The Keystone XL tar sands project would pipe some of the dirtiest oil on the planet through the breadbasket of America to be shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico. It would be a disaster for our climate, producing tar sands crude that kicks out two or three times as much carbon pollution as producing conventional crude oil.

“The Yinka Dene Alliance of British Columbia is seeing the harm from climate change to our peoples and our waters,” said Chief Jacqueline Thomas, immediate past Chief of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance (“People of the Earth”). “We see the threat of taking tar sands out of the Earth and bringing it through our territories and over our rivers. The harm being done to people in the tar sands region can no longer be Canada’s dirty secret. We don’t have the billions of dollars that industry has. But we do have our faith that people will do the right thing to protect Mother Earth. The Forward on Climate Rally shows that we are not alone in the fight to stop tar sands expansion and tackle climate change.”

In addition, right now, the president has the authority and responsibility under the Clean Air Act to cut the amount of dangerous carbon pollution emitted from dirty power plants. These power plants are the biggest contributors to climate disruption, but are currently allowed to pollute without limits.

“This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters – dirty power plants – accountable for what they dump into the air, said Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream. “Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children.”

Today’s historic rally to call for climate leadership reflects Americans’ recognition of the threats of climate change and their support for meaningful action now. Study after study has shown strong public support for climate solutions, including polling conducted by Public Policy Polling immediately after the President’s State of the Union address. That PPP poll found that 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority of Americans support President Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, dangerous carbon pollution.

The “Forward on Climate” rally was organized by; Sierra Club, Hip Hop Caucus; Natural Resources Defense Council and many other organizations.

Thousands of activists gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday for the Forward on Climate Rally, urging President Obama to take action against climate change and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

Along with denying the controversial oil sands pipeline's permit, organizers, Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus hope to see the president work to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy.

Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke argued, "The time is right for this rally." In the wake of Obama's comments on climate change in his State of the Union Address, Beinecke wrote, "We want him to know that when he takes these bold actions to stabilize the climate, the American people will support him every step of the way."

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Van Jones will be speaking spoke at a climate change rally held on the National Mall. Organizers are expected to urge President Obama to begin his second term with energy policies that included limiting carbon emissions, utilizing renewable resources and rejecting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Some of the other planned speakers Sunday include:

Michael Brune ; Sierra Club Executive Director
Bill McKibben ; President, Scholar at Middlebury College
Van Jones ; Rebuild the Dream President, NYT Best-Selling Author
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse ; Rhode Island
Maria T. Cardona ; Latinovations Founder, Dewey Square Group Principal
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood ; Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
Chief Jacqueline Thomas ; Saik'uz First Nation
Crystal Lameman ; Beaver Lake Cree First Nations

Much more below the fold...

The Keystone XL Tar Sands Climate Threat:

The above video co-released by the NRDC and today brings the message from these four experts.

It features Dr. Danny Harvey, professor at the University of Toronto who noted that “The human race is in big trouble. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real. If Keystone is approved, we’re locking in several more decades of fossil fuels and higher levels of carbon dioxide and global warming.”

Dr. John Abraham, an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas said the exploitation of tar sands will significantly worsen the climate. “Climate change is the story related to Keystone. The drought and heat wave in Texas cost Texans $5.2 billion. Hurricane Sandy cost us $70 billion. Some people say it’s too expensive to develop clean energy. I say it’s too expensive not to. We can choose to expand clean energy or make the crazy choice to extract and use the dirtiest of the dirty.”

Lorne Stockman, Research Director for Oil Change International announced new research that shows that the emissions from tar sands oil are worse than originally believed. This is because the climate emissions from a byproduct of tar sands, petroleum coke which is made in the refinery process and is used in coal-fired power plants, have not been previously considered.

Nathan Lemphers, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Pembina Institute talks about how Keystone XL is a critical ingredient to significant expansion of tar sands. He dispels the myth being promoted by the tar sands oil industry that tar sands development is inevitable with our without Keystone XL.

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