Late Monday night several tired but accomplished Gusties returned to campus after traveling to Washington, D.C. on a 40-hour-long round trip to protest the extension of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Keystone extension would be an addition to an already functioning system; essentially it would be adding a more direct route for the tar sands oil to flow from Canada to refineries in Texas.
“Because of the energy needed to extract it, the Canadian tar sands oil effectively has more carbon emissions per barrel than other oil sources,” Director of Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation Jim Dontje said.
The goal of this protest was to rally people from across the nation to demonstrate their growing concern of increasing carbon emissions and the incurred climate change to the President and demand that any bill in favor of the expansion be vetoed.
“As a nation, we have not yet made a clear policy choice about how we will deal with climate change; meeting the climate challenge requires us to reduce our carbon emissions significantly and quickly—we have to get a started on a downward trend soon,” Dontje said.
The Sierra Club sponsored the protest, but many of those people protesting were affiliated with 350.org, an environmental advocacy organization. 350.org reported that over 40,000 people attended the rally. Among those protesters were Gustavus students: Sophomores Tia Gustafson and Jessica Burggraf, Juniors Rebecca Hare and Dan Larson, and Seniors Lizzy Logas and Dan Burnett. They made a day-long journey to show their opposition to the extension of the Keystone oil pipeline and returned late Monday night after another long return trip.
“Traveling to Washington, D.C. and participating in the rally was an amazing life experience. The passion was
energizing and inspiring,” Junior Co-President of the Gustavus Greens Hare said.
Writer and Gustavus graduate Kevin Kling ’79, along with Frank Hornstein, a Minnesota State Representative, were also in attendeance. Speakers at the rally included founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, Chief Jackie Thomas and investor Tom Steyner.
“The Native speakers [included Chief Jackie Thomas] were extremely motivational. They talked about how children on their reservations are dying from contaminated water. They made you want to do everything in your power to stop big oil consumption,” said.
“The rally and march to the Capitol was profoundly moving, reminding me of the important opportunity we have in the United States to freely express our discontent, that we should utilize because so many others cannot,” Hare said.
If interested in participating in environmental activism in any capacity, the Gustavus Greens provides a varietyof options to students.
“There are often opportunities to participate in local, state, and national campaigns for sustainabilty,” Hare said.
Gustavus Greens also has a Facebook page and invites all students to join the group.