Sierra Club forms human pipeline in D.C.
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
On Sunday, members of the Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, along with thousands of other individuals took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to form a human pipeline for the “Forward on Climate” rally. The focus of the rally was to encourage President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, a transcontinental pipeline running from Canada down the middle of the United States, junior Megan Mauger, an environmental science major, said.
Rather than voting against the installment of the pipeline, which would carry a type of petroleum deposit known as tar sands oil, Obama delayed action on it, Mauger said.
Stephanie Herron, volunteer and outreach coordinator of the Delaware Sierra Club chapter, said peoples’ health is at risk due to the tar sands oil, which is much more carcinogenic than traditional crude oil. Tar sands oil also has much larger global climate impacts, as the oil creates three times as much climate-disrupting air pollution as crude oil, she said.
Mauger said she believes though the public’s health is important, the most significant overall issue is climate change. It affects every aspect of living and should be a top priority for Obama, she said.
“Not only would it be destroying habitat, but more importantly it’s facilitating another form of non-renewable energy,” Mauger said. “Why not start researching better technology with renewable energy instead of finding new ways to transport non renewable energy?”
The rally attracted 50,000 people, senior Elisa Sarantschin said, who attended the event. Hundreds of the participants came from the state of Delaware, Herron said and 31 of those people were students from the university.
Sarantchin, a marine geology and environmental science major, currently interns with the Sierra Club to promote environmental justice. She said the rally was the first one she has attended.
Sarantchin said she hopes the rally will hopefully send a message to Obama. She said she had a relatively positive outlook on Obama’s environmental policies and believes he is open to suggestions on environmental policy.
“I think it’s really effective for everyone to get together,” Sarantchin said. “We marched around the White House and had signs and yelled things. It brings knowledge to people who aren’t aware of it. You are able to go and talk to people about other environmental issues.”
Herron said Obama has been using Congress as an excuse to not introduce bills and she thinks he assumes they will not be passed so he doesn’t start the process
The best way to motivate people about the environment is to get them interested and involved in local communities, Sarantschin said.
Though she said she has met some people who are ignorant to environmental issues, she met many people at the protest who were enthusiastic about the policies.
Herron said rallying at this event is one of the most important things people can do to raise awareness.
“The more people that are there, the stronger the message is,” Herron said. “People will put their votes where their mouth is. If you won’t be a leader, people aren’t going to vote for you.”
Mauger said she believes a majority of the public does not understand environmental policies, so it is important to educate people.
Herron also said the number one goal should be to take action when it comes to the environment. She said it is a significant issue of social justice and areas of the world have already experienced repercussions.
“Climate change is the mother of all issues,” Herron said. “So many of the other issues in this world stem from climate change.”
The issue is critical to the state of Delaware because of its location near the coast, Herron said.
“Delaware is a completely coastal state,” Herron said. “It is also the state with the lowest average elevation. Sea level rise is going to dramatically affect our state because we are so close to sea level. No Delawarean lives no farther than eight miles from tidal [flowing] water.”