Hundreds of students and young people are expected to risk arrest in an act of civil disobedience at the White House this March 2 to pressure President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The sit-in at the White House will be the largest act of civil disobedience by young people in the recent history of the environmental movement. The protest, known as “XL Dissent,” is meant to send a clear signal to President Obama that the base that helped elect him sees Keystone XL as a decision that will define his entire legacy.
“Obama was the first President I voted for, and I want real climate action and a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a Senior at Tulane University. “The people that voted him into office have made it absolutely clear what we want, and that’s to reject Keystone XL.”
Keystone XL has become an iconic fight for young people across the country, many of whom are involved in local campaigns to help stop the pipeline or the broader fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has spread to over 300 universities across the United States.
“As young people, the Keystone XL pipeline assures irreversible environmental destruction,” said Aly Johnson-Kurts, who is taking a gap year from Smith College to help fight the climate crisis. “We stand in solidarity with First Nations communities and other groups on the front lines who have been fighting Tar Sands development for years, and call on President Obama to reject this pipeline to prevent climate catastrophe from defining our future.”
The “XL Dissent” protest on March 2 will begin with a march from Georgetown University to the White House. After a rally in Lafayette Square, hundreds of students and young people are expected to risk arrest at the White House fence. The day before the protest, students will meet for a non-violent direct action training and fossil fuel divestment conference.
The sit-in at the White House has been endorsed by a wide range of pipeline opponents. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said, “As the fight to stop KXL enters its final stages, it’s truly inspiring to see young people at the forefront. This pipeline is scheduled to last 40 years – right through the prime of their lives. President Obama needs to look them in the face.”
Youth environmentalist and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, Conor Kennedy said, “The fight to stop KXL will be one of the defining battles of our generation. A victory here will mark the close of the old carbon era, and the start of the new energy revolution—our revolution. America’s youth now have the chance to take up the torch, and light a new fire.”