NASA Scientist, Religious Leaders Arrested in Tar Sands Protest

Religious leaders protest the pipeline as U.S. Park Police arrest United Church of Christ minister Rev. Mari Castellanos, August 29, 2011

NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen was arrested today in front of the White House where he was demonstrating in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would bring thick crude oil from Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. Dr. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is a climate research scientist at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Arrests are continuing at the White House, where about 140 people gathered on the sidewalk as part of a two-week long sit-in to protest TransCanada’s proposed 1,700 mile pipeline.

The protest has led to the arrest of 521 people since August 20, when protestors began the Tar Sands Action sit-in at the White House. The protest will continue until September 3.

Because the proposed pipeline would cross the United States-Canada border, a Presidential Permit issued by the U.S. State Department is required for the project to proceed. The protestors are demanding that President Barack Obama decline to issue a permit for the pipeline because of the environmental damage it would cause.

“If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is ‘in the national interest,” wrote Dr. Hansen in an August 3 letter to President Obama along with 19 other scientists. “As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”

Today, 60 religious leaders of many faiths were among the crowd, which also included CREDO Mobile president Michael Kieschnick, Greenpeace Director Phil Radford and Executive Director May Boeve.

“Climate change hurts the poor first,” said Rose Berger, a Roman Catholic and lead Sojourners organizer for Tar Sands Action. “The tar sands development and the permitting the Keystone XL pipeline will worsen climate change and should be stopped.” [more]


Environmental News Service