Any minute now, President Obama could approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The pipeline was proposed in 2008, yet has been continuously placed on hold. A country-wide movement has taken off with strong public opposition to the pipeline. Scientists have called the pipeline a climate disaster and local communities have expressed potential oil spill concerns.
In February 2013, over 40,000 people marched in DC in opposition to the pipeline, marking the largest climate change rally in history. By April, over 1 million public comments were submitted to the State Department opposing the development of the pipeline.
Last weekend at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in central Tennessee, young climate activists kept the momentum going. I joined the Southern Energy Network (SEN) and Energy Action Coalition (EAC) to spread awareness about the Keystone XL pipeline. We engaged with thousands of young people, discussing climate change concerns and the need for a clean, just and equitable energy future. The result? Over 5,000 petition signatures asking President Obama to reject the pipeline and encouraging Obama, Duke Energy, and Southern Company to “show some climate courage” and act now to deliver clean energy solutions.
We also helped enthusiastic individuals get plugged into the youth climate movement. Southern university students can join SEN in their newly launched campaign that will target the nation’s dirtiest utilities and leverage universities’ purchasing power to scale up solar and wind energy deployment`. We also encouraged Bonnaroo attendees to register for Power Shift 2013, an EAC organized youth convention where 10,000 + young people will come together in Pittsburg, PA in October to educate, train, and organize for a nationwide shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.
Bonnaroo is over and the stages are empty for another year, but the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and usher our nation towards a clean energy future will continue to push forward with young activists leading the way.
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