Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Keystone XL rejected: A gush of energy for young people

This was originally posted as a guest blog at the NRDC, found at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/guest_blog_by_david_roswell_a.html

This is a guest blog from David Roswell, an Oberlin student interning at NRDC during January 2012

It’s not often that we win. Especially for the current crop of college students, who grew up in the Bush years, environmental victories have been small, few and far between. Last week, though, we won. Let January 18th, 2012 go down in the record as the day when the people stood up to Big Oil and came out victorious.

This summer, while working with Summer of Solutions, building the green economy and strengthening the community in Rogers Park, Chicago, I got an email from one of the people I most look up to, Bill McKibben. It had a serious tone, and a serious request: to risk arrest in a fight against tar sands, which I knew little about, except for images in my head of trucks bigger than houses and open mines gashing through the boreal forests in Canada. After a week of research and conversations with friends, activist and not, I decided with confidence to join in the action.

The day of my arrest was one of the proudest days of my life. Less, however, due to my participation in the action, and more because of my sister, who at fifteen years old, took a stand too. She shone brilliantly as she held the bullhorn and lead chants in the shadow of the White House. Watching her, across the police barricade as I waited for my handcuffs, gave me the strong conviction that a progressive, positive and successful environmental movement is building and growing.

Oberlin student David Roswell gets arrested protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Photo credit: Josh Lopez, TarSandsAction

This conviction was only reinforced when I returned to Oberlin College in Ohio, where I am a junior. Obies helped to plan a rally at Obama’s Cleveland campaign office, and showed up in force on that unseasonably cold day in October. We had so many students sign up for the November 6th demonstration at the White House that the Energy Action Coalition generously provided us with a bus to take us there and back.

And to be sure, it didn’t ended there. With this newfound sense of confidence, my generation will continue to fight a broad range of battles. We are excited to take on earthquake-causing fracking in Northeast Ohio, to continue the battle against tar sands—the dirtiest oil on the planet, and to work to create green jobs and opportunities for ourselves and others.

The denial of TransCanada’s Keystone XL permit is a huge victory for my generation and the seven generations hence. Science and reason have taken precedence over politics, human and ecological health over profits.

Of course, it is not over. The fight against tar sands is not over; rather it has only just begun. But now we have the upper hand: the energy built throughout this fight has been infectious, and will power my generation further than any dirty oil ever could.

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