By: Josiah Coyle
Over 40,000 people attended the Forward on Climate rally in Washington D.C. last Sunday, including 30 students and 2 professors from Unity College.
350.org, one of the main organizers of the event, billed the rally as “the largest climate rally in the nation’s history”. The rally’s main objective was to demonstrate American citizen’s opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, the proposed pipeline project from the energy company TransCanada. This is not the first time Unity students have participated in a protest against Keystone XL.
“Last year there were about 12,000 people there and we had about 20 students, and this year 50,000 people and 30 students.” Says professor John Zavodny, speaking about last year’sCcircle the White House action. “At Unity, 30 students is about 7%.”
The proposed pipeline has become a flashpoint for citizens and activists concerned about climate change and the overreach of corporations. Keystone XL has already seen several demonstrations against it as well as a weeks long blockade in East Texas.
TransCanada wants to build the pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to oil refineries and ports on the Texas Gulf Coast. Since it must cross an international border the decision to approve or deny the project rests with President Barack Obama. Construction has already begun on the southern leg of the pipeline, and approval for the northern leg was set to be signed before the election last November but has since been pushed back.
There are differing opinions on the likelihood of the President denying the pipeline.
“If he signs off on the pipeline, if he agrees, if John Kerry, the State Department agrees to go ahead and build it I will be shocked and I will wonder, politically, what the hell he was thinking.” Says John Zavodny.
Zach Wigham, a Unity student and writer of the http://rei-stonexl.tumblr.com/ blog, disagrees. “I feel like I’m in the minority in the attendees of the rally to say that I do not expect him to deny Keystone XL and I say that because climate change has not typically been an issue that he talks about very much.”
The President did bring up climate change in his latest State of the Union address, but also stressed that he thinks it is important to increase domestic oil production and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production while investing in renewable energy.
So far, the President has not commented to the media about Sunday’s rally.