Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fighting the Pipeline

By Reginald Johnson

NEW HAVEN --- Chanting and banging on cans, about 25 protesters braved blustery March winds as they demonstrated in front of TD Bank on Chapel Street, trying to alert customers to the bank’s role in funding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Keystone will ship hundreds of thousands of barrels of heavy tar sand from Alberta to refineries in Texas, if the pipeline gets built. Critics say the project will lead to massive new releases of carbon into the atmosphere and worsen climate change.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, the pipeline’s gotta go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, the pipeline’s gotta go,”  the group chanted.

Another ditty went “Hey TD! Leave tar sands alone! We don’t need the dirty oil. Leave the tar sands in the soil!”

Rebecca Burton, of Occupy Hartford, was one of those at the protest last Saturday, part of a number of actions around the country aimed at stopping the Keystone project. Burton said that all phases of the pipeline project, the extraction of the tar sands, the transport, the refinemnent , and the use of it, will trigger harmful emissions.

Some experts believe those releases in turn could lead to runaway climate change, with catastrophic consequences for the human race. Leading NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, for instance, said last year that if the Keystone project is approved it will be “game over for the climate.”

Appropriately, Burton carried a sign that read “Tar Sands = Game Over.”


Burton also maintained that contrary to the claims by backers of the project, the oil produced won’t significantly help U.S. energy supplies.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but most of the oil will be shipped overseas to China and India,” she said.

The Keystone XL project, now the subject of an environmental review by the State Department, will ultimately be approved or not approved by President Barack Obama. The decision is expected within the next few months.

Some of the protesters handed passersby leaflets that read “Ditch TD. Stand with Us.” The leaflet, produced by an environmental organization called “350 Connecticut,” said that TD bank holds over 23 million shares in TransCanada, the Canadian energy company behind Keystone XL. Between 2007 and 2010, the flyer said, TD invested $993 million in corporate loans to fund the project and the bank stands to make “huge profits.”


Ben Martin, an activist from Wallingford, said the group hopes to persuade people not to put their deposits in TD bank, because in the long run that investment harms them.

“With the money people put in their bank, they are basically investing that money into tar sands, which will kill the people that put money in the bank,” he said.

Martin has been involved in the battle against Keystone from the early stages in 2010, when protesters first did civil disobedience actions close to the White House. Since then the protests have grown, with tens of thousands of people taking part, both in Washington and around the country.

The protesters also had a message for President Obama, with this song: “Hey Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama! Hey Obama we don’t want no pipeline drama!”


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