Group protests oil pipeline before speech
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 04:09
Protestors planted outside of Mitchell Hall last week chanted "Stop the pipeline, help us Joe!" minutes before Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech inside.
Nearly 20 demonstrators, holding various cardboard and cloth signs, protested the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline System during the vice president's visit to the university Friday. The pipeline, which would extend a crude oil pipeline that transports synthetic crude oil from Alberta, Canada to American refineries in the Gulf Coast, has drawn criticism from many environmentalists.
Graduate student Amy Roe, who was arrested four weeks ago during a similar demonstration in front of the White House, said she was excited to get a chance to reach Biden.
"Nothing feels better than being in front of a beautiful building, holding a sign and standing up for what you believe in," Roe said.
As Biden arrived at Mitchell Hall to donate his Senatorial documents to his alma mater, demonstrators stood on The Green holding signs that read "Listen up, Joe" and "A climate change is not the change we are looking for."
Graduate student Chad Wasileski said he hoped the protest would persuade the vice president to consider advising President Barack Obama to reject the proposed pipeline.
"We're here to put a bug in Joe Biden's ear," he said.
The Keystone Pipeline would be powered through a process called fracturing of natural gas. Fracking can pollute watesr with toxins and consumes millions of gallons of fresh water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. Department of State released a report that said the pipeline would have no "significant impact" on resources surrounding the project. The release also said spills along the pipeline would be limited and recommended going forward with the project.
Roe said the Obama administration wants to proceed with the plan to create the Keystone XL Pipeline because it will create revenue for American oil companies. According to the TransCanada website, the $13 billion pipeline system will directly connect the country with oil from Canada and create jobs during its construction and after its completion.
Protesters handed out brochures quoting Obama during his Presidential campaign, which read, "Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil," implying his change in policy.
Senior Jason Freeman, who was standing in line for Biden's speech and watching the protesters, said he did not think the demonstrators effectively communicated their message.
"They weren't that loud and people were kind of laughing at them," Freeman said. "I wasn't really moved by them,"
Sophomore Abby Barber, a demonstrator at the event, said she participated in the protest because she believes Biden has the potential to influence Obama's decision.
"Joe Biden can do something about this as Obama's right-hand man," she said. "He must have something in his heart for this school."
Obama will make the decision to reject or support the construction of the pipeline extension in December.
Although Roe thinks oil companies will be pressuring Obama, she said it is important for Americans to voice their disproval.
"The corporation's voice is loud," Roe said. "We as Americans need to be louder."