Patrick Hixenbaugh, ’14, Chemistry, is Vice President for Advocacy of UMBC Students for Environmental Awareness and Assistant Opinions Editor of The Retriever Weekly
[Cross-posted on MyUMBC]
Last Sunday, I was arrested for opposing climate change. I, along with hundreds of other college students from UMBC and elsewhere, peacefully protested the proposed Keystone XL pipeline by disobeying orders to leave the White House sidewalk.
A lot of people have asked me why I tried to get arrested. It was not a decision I made lightly. I have never been arrested before, and don’t plan on it again.
I want to prove that this issue is serious enough to get arrested over. Not serious only for me, but for all Americans. Farmers in the Midwest who depend on the Ogallala Aquifer to grow the nation’s crops. Americans who depend on them for food. First Nations in Alberta who find their voice silenced by Big Oil.
It’s serious for people in Miami, Ocean City, and all along the coasts who are affected by human-caused rising seas. For the people of New York City and New Orleans who’ve already felt the disasters of stronger storms and rising waters.
This pipeline makes no sense for America. TransCanada and the oil companies get to sell oil more cheaply on the world market, and what does America get in exchange? Temporary construction jobs, carbon dioxide pollution, and a 1,700 mile long pipeline which has already spilled at least 14 times in 12 months of operating its southern portion.
We can’t end our dependence for fossil fuels in an instant. But we can sure as hell keep TransCanada from increasing our dependence. Say no to Keystone XL. Say yes to energy independence and renewable energy.
To quote a sign at the rally, “KXL most affects people who can’t afford to be here.” They couldn’t, but I could. I got arrested because I could make my voice heard.
What do you think? You can speak out too. Tell your friends and family about Keystone XL. Tell Obama that America rejects fossil fuel dependence, rejects pollution, and rejects the Keystone XL pipeline.
UMBC has a great history of civic action. Thanks for reading.
Contact the author, Patrick Hixenbaugh, at firstname.lastname@example.org.