On the afternoon of Monday, January 7, a group of eight college students entered the Westborough offices of TransCanada energy company. Within minutes, they had chained and glued themselves together, sitting in a ring on the office floor, their backs touching and hands clasped.
The student-activists, from Brandeis, Tufts, Harvard, the University of New Hampshire, and Boston University, were demonstrating against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is anticipated to transport tar sands oil from Canada, across the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico. After three and a half hours, the protesters were arrested and taken to the Westborough Police Stataion.
The activists launched a website Monday, along with a letter to explain their actions in the face of an impending climate crisis. We have re-published their statement, below, for your consideration.
Today we stand together as representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced into this position by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as Transcanada. Our political leaders have failed countless times to stand up to the tyranny of fossil fuel giants and take the necessary steps to solve the climate crisis. Their failures have disrupted and destroyed millions of lives.
In November 2011, the International Energy Agency published a report stating that we would be “locked in” to irreversible global warming within five years unless we dramatically changed the rate at which we were constructing new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Fourteen months have gone by since that five year deadline was set, but still Transcanada presses forward with attempts to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Transcanada’s efforts to build fossil fuel infrastructure—when society’s resources should be invested in safe renewable energy—are dangerous and immoral. The urgency of the IEA report should be enough of a warning, but we also know that full combustion of the Canadian tar sands deposits delivered by Transcanada’s pipeline would be “game over” for the climate.
The Keystone XL pipeline thus represents an intolerable threat to our future. It represents the crippling burdens of disease borne by thousands of Americans, Canadians, and others across the planet who live near sites of fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and combustion, so we stand in solidarity with our friends in Texas who blockade construction to protect communities threatened by the pipeline. It represents the extreme destruction of the climate crisis to which countless millions have already lost their homes, their jobs and their lives, so we stand in solidarity with our friends in New York and New Jersey still suffering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. It represents the threat of even greater destruction that is still to come from an unabated climate crisis, so we stand in solidarity with all humanity.
Our actions today aim to raise awareness and build momentum to halt the destruction that fossil fuel corporations knowingly cause. Science, and economics and logic provide an obvious imperative for action. However, even overwhelming factual evidence has not compelled our political leaders to stand up to these corporations. Our elected representatives have not yet found the courage to draw a clear line in the sand and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Today, we hope to present our political leaders with an example of the courage needed to confront the climate crisis by putting our bodies in the way of corporations whose activities threaten our society. Today, we add our peaceful civil disobedience to an accelerating tidal wave of actions, from the farmlands of rural Texas to the steps of the White House, as people across the nation rise up together.