On Monday, February 3, braving snow and slick sidewalks, about 30 residents of Jamaica Plain and surrounding communities gathered for a “singing vigil” to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
|Protesters in Jamaica Plain urge Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.|
We were 30 of over 10,000 who gathered for vigils in 283 locations in 49 states (plus DC and Canada) to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As a light snow fell, led by the “Fossil Fuel Follies,” we sang climate action songs from their repertoire as well as songs by the recently deceased Pete Seeger. Responding to our signs, candles and song, simpatico drivers honked their horns.
|A protester makes a demand.|
Organized in just 72 hours by groups including CREDO, 350.org and the Sierra Club, the vigils were a response to the State Departments release, on January 31, of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on KXL which states that the pipeline will have minimal environmental impact. The final decision to approve the pipeline, or not, will be President Obama’s.
The proposed pipeline would transport dirty tar sands oil from Canada through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries where, most contend, it will ultimately be shipped overseas. Many studies show that building the pipeline will accelerate climate change because of the amount of CO2 that will be added to the atmosphere when the oil is burned.
Five days later, on Saturday, February 8, 400 demonstrators from across the state turned out on Salem Common in Salem, Massachusetts, to protest the building of a natural gas power plant facility on the Salem Waterfront. We carried an array of homemade signs and banners, and sang and chanted our way from the Common to the Waterfront site of the proposed plant.
|Demonstrators in Salem oppose the building of a gas-fired power plant.|
The new plant would be built by New Jersey-based Footprint Power, owners of the Salem Harbor Station, a 63-year-old coal- and oil-fired power plant that currently sits on the site but is scheduled to close by the end of May. The $800-million 674-megawatt natural gas power plant is slated for completion in 2016.
|Dorian Sosnick Williams addresses the Salem demonstrators.|
One rally speaker, Dorian Sosnick Williams, said with passion, “I am 22 years old and climate change is impacting every major decision I make…including the decision of whether or not to have children.” In a recent email, Williams wrote: “If this plant moves forward, it could set the precedent for all future retiring coal plants to be replaced with natural gas, stifling investment in renewables and locking us into decades of continued fossil fuel reliance.” Williams is Climate Legacy Coordinator for 350 Massachusetts and Energy Organizer for Better Future Project.
The rally was organized by 350 Massachusetts, Better Future Project and Salem-based Grassroots Against Another Salem Power Plant (GAASP).
An update: On February 20, State energy officials gave their final approval for the construction of FP’s proposed new plant. For details see New Salem power plant wins final approval.