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article imageSierra Club endorses civil disobedience over climate change

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By Anne Sewell     Jan 26, 2013 in Environment
First President Barack Obama said in his second inaugural address that the US will respond to the threat of climate change. But then, the very next day, the Nebraska Governor approved the passage of the controversial Keystone Pipeline through his state.
President Obama said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
This sounded great to Sierra Club President, Michael Brune.
However, the fact that Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved the passage of the Keystone Pipeline through his state the very next day, made Brune say that enough is enough.
Following this Brune made the announcement that for the first time in its 120-year life-span the Sierra Club is going to get involved in civil disobedience to stop the controversial and potentially disastrous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
February 17 will see a protest in Washington, DC, which is on the same day as Forward on Climate, the “largest climate rally in history.” Officials at Sierra Club do stress that this rally is separate from their act of civil disobedience, of which no details are available as yet.
However, in response to President Obama's words during his second inauguration speech, the Club is now putting pressure on him to back up his talk with action.
To quote from Michael Brune's blog:
We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen — even though we know how to stop it — would be unconscionable. As the president said on Monday, “to do so would betray our children and future generations.” It couldn’t be simpler: Either we leave at least two-thirds of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, or we destroy our planet as we know it. That’s our choice, if you can call it that.
The Sierra Club has refused to stand by. We’ve worked hard and brought all of our traditional tactics of lobbying, electoral work, litigation, grassroots organizing, and public education to bear on this crisis. And we have had great success — stopping more than 170 coal plants from being built, securing the retirement of another 129 existing plants, and helping grow a clean energy economy. But time is running out, and there is so much more to do. The stakes are enormous. At this point, we can’t afford to lose a single major battle. That’s why the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors has for the first time endorsed an act of peaceful civil disobedience.
Sierra Club says it is essential to reject the dangerous tar sands pipeline, as this would transport some of the dirtiest oil on the plant.
Not only that, the production of oil from sand has terrible impacts on the environment including the fact that tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest would be destroyed, hundreds of millions of gallons of water would go to waste, as each barrel of oil from tar sands requires three barrels of water to produce. Vast pristine landscapes, rivers and wildlife in Alberta, Canada right through to the Gulf Coast of Texas would be threatened by the pipeline.
Everyone has heard President's Obama's promises in the past, and very few have been kept, but this time Sierra Club intends to make him stick by his words.
President Obama's proposals on gun control, issued last week, were titled, "Now is the Time." Brune says this is an equally good title for the issue of climate change. The need for action is urgent and the President must do his part.
The State Department is currently completing an environmental review and is expected to present the president with its recommendations by the end of March.
In the meantime, there will be some major civil disobedience in Washington, DC on February 17.
About Sierra Club - to quote Wikipedia: "The Sierra Club is one of the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the United States and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada."
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