To the resounding honks of passing vehicles, some two dozen Ashlanders waved signs and chanted that, when a bill allowing the Keystone XL pipeline project to go ahead passes the Republican Congress, President Barack Obama should veto it.
“This is the critical issue of our times to deal with, if it’s not too late,” said former city Parks & Recreation Commission member JoAnne Eggers. “We should keep fossil fuels in the ground, to reduce greenhouse gases. I’m 75 now and will time out, but all the kids and critters will have to live with what we do.”
Eggers waved a sign saying, “Just Say No to Keystone XL.”
The event was organized nationally by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club, 350.org and other groups seeking to stop passage of the fourth and last phase of the Keystone Pipeline, running 1,179 miles from Alberta to Nebraska.
“It’s a bad idea and should never have been proposed,” said Jackson Bangs, 22, who got to the rally on his bike. “It’s going to create a lot of carbon dioxide, not a lot of jobs. It’s hiring less than a McDonalds and is a profit-maker just for oil companies.”
Jan Waitt said she was demonstrating because “we don’t want more dirty oil to be sent around the world to contribute to pollution and climate change. It’s extracted by fracking in tar sands and they want it to come through the United States so they don’t have a fight with the First Nations (Indians).”
Waitt said she gets links from the White House, where President Obama is seeking comment on Keystone XL before his upcoming State of the Union message, where it is an unavoidable topic.
“We’re counting on Obama to keep his word that he will veto it,” said Kristina Lefever. “He said he’d stop it. It’s coming to a vote in the Senate today (Tuesday) and there’s a lot of pressure on him from major corporate interests that say we need it for jobs and the economy, but the American people are not benefitting from this.”
The Rev. Caren Caldwell of the Medford United Church of Christ said she’s demonstrating because of impacts on climate change.
“We’re building more systems for fossil fuel instead of going to clean energy,” said Caldwell. “This oil is not for our domestic supply.”
Keystone is owned by TransCanada Corporation of Alberta. Courts have allowed it to use eminent domain to procure land from owners. The line has been hung up by environmental concerns in Nebraska, a delay supported by Obama.
“The pipeline and drilling do a lot of damage to water — and water is a lot more important than oil,” said Cheyenne Poole, 23, a builder using natural materials. “It would put the (Ogallala) aquifer at great risk of contamination.
“It’s ridiculous. They’re endangering forestlands and using potable water for drilling when we should be focused on renewable energy. It creates barriers to the migrations of many animals and is vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural events. It’s just not environmentally friendly at all.”
Minority Democrats in the Senate have been filibustering the bill, stalling a long amendment process and frustrating Senate Republicans. It earlier passed the Republican House.