Several Central Michigan University students were among the thousands to attend a Washington, D.C., rally Sunday to urge President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The “Forward On Climate” rally featured tens of thousands of participants and was billed as the largest climate rally ever.
Along with discouraging work on the Keystone XL pipeline, the rally also supported a variety of environmentally safe policies. The rally was organized by the grassroots group 350.org and the Sierra Club.
Members of the CMU Student Environmental Alliance attended, joining more than 250 Michigan students and community members. While at the rally, students carried signs emphasizing what they feel are the negative impacts of having tar sand pipelines present in our state.
Vincent Roncelli, member of SEA and president of Take Back The Tap, said the event was a monumental occasion for all students attending.
“SEA has attended many rallies in the past; none compare to this,” the Armada sophomore said. “This rally could possibly be the largest climate rally in history. Being part of a movement of this stature is truly humbling. Together, we can accomplish anything.”
Many of the students who attended the rally are members of the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, a statewide network of college students supporting environmental causes. The group held a conference at Central Michigan University last weekend.
Roncelli said the rally’s historical proportions are necessary for what he believes is a very important cause.
“We are hoping that President Obama hears our calls and stops the construction of the dirty Keystone XL pipeline that would lock our country into a dependency on fossil fuels,” Roncelli said. “Not to mention, (it) would destroy our already damaged environment.”
Because the proposed Keystone pipeline runs through Canada and over the border, it needs approval from the State Department before construction can begin. Obama, who rejected an earlier pipeline path, said he will be the one making the final decision.
Proponents of the pipeline say it can provide an economic boost while helping the U.S. become energy independent, while opponents say the pipeline is far too dangerous and environmentally hazardous to be approved.
Saline senior Chloe Gleichman said she hopes the rally will give CMU environmentalist groups a new burst of energy.
“I think we will come back from this rally with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm,” Gleichman said. “We will have a greater sense of what is at stake, and also, how powerful the movement is.”