The Keystone XL pipeline, if allowed to be constructed, will bring the dirtiest oil (tar sands) from Alberta, Canada to Texas, allowing plenty of room for oil leaks and spills to leach across six states. Nothing is as frightening as the possibility that the Ogallala Aquifer, a source of drinking water for millions and a major contributor to agricultural irrigation, may be contaminated in the future. But nothing is more exciting than seeing many Americans band together to stand up to big oil, with hopes that we will finally start the transition to clean and renewable energy.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been in the spotlight, with thousands in Washington D.C. sending a clear message to President Obama; Americans don’t want Canada’s dirty oil to pollute and destroy the homeland. News coverage across the nation and state has shed a limelight on people who believe in a clean future. Whether big oil likes it or not, there is a shift in American’s view of the industry.
In Houston, things are heating up. A group of volunteers talked with people of the Manchester community, a neighborhood no more than a block away from several oil refineries. If the pipeline is constructed, the residents of the area will have even higher levels of pollutants in the air. They fear that their children will suffer major health complications, ranging from asthma to cancer. Many of the adults and seniors already do, and know that it’s from the smokestacks seen from their porch.
In a recent protest last Sunday, over 30 volunteers came together in a march around the neighborhood, complete with the local jazz group the Free Radicals. For the young and old alike, it was a moment of solidarity in the struggle for clean energy. There are hundred of thousands mobilizing all over the U.S. who share your fears, hopes, and dreams. Leslie Fields, the Sierra Club’s environmental justice director, came all the way from Washington to lend her voice to the community.
Scarlett Russell, an environmentalist aiming to protect this community, is a source of hope for many and a voice given to the people of Manchester. She organized a team of canvassers and a documentary film crew to spread the word and put a face to those who suffer most from the activities of big oil. Many have joined her, such as Juan and Bryan Parras of T.E.J.A.S. Barrios, and volunteers from the Sierra Club’s Houston group.
It is vital to keep the pressure on big oil, and on Obama. Now is the time to come and speak out, to volunteer, or to tell our state and national leaders that we simply have no room for the Keystone XL pipeline in America’s green future. The hearings in Port Arthur and Austin are extremely important for all those who stand against Keystone XL to attend, and make comments:
Port Arthur – Monday September 26, 2011
4:30 – 10 p.m.
Bob Bowers Civic Center
3401 Cultural Center Drive, Port Arthur, TX, 77642
Austin – Wednesday September 28, 2011
12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
UT Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium
2313 Red River Street, Austin, TX, 78705
– Kat Herrera, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern, Houston.