Andy Burt being arrested at Keystone XL tar sands pipeline protest in DC August 21.
By Aylie Baker, Andy Burt, and Fran Ludwig
The ride to Anacostia Precinct is a short one, not more than ten minutes.
Thirteen women rode in the police wagon. No one had been arrested before — and yet — with our hands cuffed behind our backs and our bodies slick with sweat in the 90-degree heat, we were not afraid. There were only smiles on our faces.
Sirens blared as we left the White House gates and drove southeast over the Anacostia River. To get to Anacostia precinct — it turns out — you have to follow signs toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Though he died before the first Earth Day, King would have been proud to see the scores of protestors lining up in front of the White House last week. He would have recognized something in the faces of the clergy, doctors, seniors and college students. Their call for equality and justice echoed that of the people who joined him on the streets of Montgomery.
Sunday we gathered for the Tar Sands Action — a 2-week protest that may be the largest act of civil disobedience in the history of the climate movement. We were protesting the construction of a massive oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
In simple terms, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a 1,700 mile fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet. NASA climatologist James Hansen has stated that if we fully exploit the tar sands, it’s “essentially game over” for the climate. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could rise far beyond 550 parts per million (ppm). Currently we’re near 395 ppm. Modern human civilization developed during a narrow range around 280 ppm.
The proposed pipeline runs through tribal lands, national water sources, and fertile farmland. Getting at the tar sands means cutting down a tract of Boreal forest the size the United Kingdom, which, like Brazil’s rainforest, helps to cancel out CO2 emissions that cause global warming.
And it’s marginalized people that King fought for who are most affected by climate change.