Over 30 students leaders, faculty and Virginians rallied Friday, May 17, at a press conference in advance of Sen. Mark Warner’s commencement address Saturday to tell the Senator that they oppose the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Sen. Warner says he supports action on climate change but he has voted to approve the project, which would carry 830,000 of the world’s dirtiest fuel, tar sands crude, through the U.S.’s bread basket to the Gulf Coast for export. Sen. Kaine does not support the pipeline and believes it is not in the national interest.
Rebekah Ortiz, a Northern Virginia Community College engineering student and a George Mason research assistant studying the science of diversity, spoke at the rally and encouraged continued action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. “Senator Warner will address tomorrow’s graduating seniors and he needs to know that young people vote for leaders who will address climate change, not advance it.”
President Obama is expected to decide Keystone's fate later this year. Opposition to the pipeline has continued to grow. Over 1,500 people have already been arrested to stop Keystone XL and on Feb. 17 over 40,000 people came to Washington to tell President Obama to reject the pipeline. Credo Mobile and others have collected pledges from over 60,000 people who are willing to risk arrest to stop the pipeline.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is the line in the sand—citizens in the United States and Canada know that mining, transporting and burning tar sands oil will condemn future generations to extreme climate change,” says Dr. David Kuebrich, an English professor at George Mason and a speaker in rally. “Senator Warner has got to listen to the people of Virginia on this issue and come forth with a statement against the pipeline.”
The “No Keystone rally” was organized by students in the Environmental Action Group at GMU, local non-profit Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and international group 350.org. Rally participants were able to take individual pictures at the event holding a sign of their making addressing why they are against the tar sands pipeline. “These photo petitions will be printed, compiled, and delivered to Senator Warner’s office so that he can see how many of us are willing to hold him accountable on this issue,” explains Kara Dodson, who works for 350.org and is one of the main organizers with the event.