Rally against Keystone XL pipeline draws 60 protesters in downtown Northampton



Last modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — Climate-minded protesters from throughout the Valley gathered in front of the old Hampshire County Courthouse Tuesday evening in solidarity with demonstrators across the country demanding that President Barack Obama reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Some 60 people from communities including Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley and Chicopee stood in the frigid cold holding signs with messages such as “No XL Pipeline, Bad for Planet Earth” and “No Tar Sands Oil” as motorists honked in appreciation.

“If we can mobilize political will to do what is scientifically necessary, our vision is that we can create a healthy and just and sustainable future,” said the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Northampton, an Episcopal priest who was one of the local organizers. “We need to stop investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, and make a swift transition to clean, safe renewable energy.”

The protest began at 4:30 p.m. and lasted about an hour. “I find it incredibly heartwarming that people are standing out here on this bitterly cold day,” Bullitt-Jonas added.

The Keystone XL project is an 1,100-mile section of pipeline proposed by TransCanada that would bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to southern Nebraska. Tuesday’s protest in Northampton was one of hundreds across the country following a call from environmental organizations to stand against the pipeline.

Organizers said the protest was originally planned for the Calvin Coolidge Bridge, and though it was moved due to the icy conditions, there were some protesters who gathered there Tuesday evening.

Drawing attention at the corner of Main and King Streets was “Mother Earth” portrayed by Tim Holcomb of Amherst in an approximately 7-foot costume made of many colors of fabric and a papier-mache head. The costume was made by Beth Fairservis of PachaMama Puppet Productions in Haydenville.

“It’s hard to argue with a puppet,” Holcomb said.

Irvine Sobelman of Northampton said that though political proponents of the pipeline have promoted it as a job-creator, this is not accurate. Some at the rally handed out fliers to passers-by, one of which stated that, “Experts estimate the pipeline will only provide 50 permanent jobs.”

Bullitt-Jonas noted that though not everyone at the protest might identify as religious, the cause has spiritual as well as moral significance for her.

“God gave the world into our care to love and to protect. That’s the first charge we were given as human beings,” she said.

She said it is also an issue of social justice in both the present and the future.

“Climate change affects the poor and low-income people first and hardest,” she said. “It’s also an issue of intergenerational justice because right now we are stealing a habitable world from our children and our children’s children.”

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at gmangiaratti@gazettenet.com.

NORTHAMPTON — Climate-minded protesters from throughout the Valley gathered in front of the old Hampshire County Courthouse Tuesday evening in solidarity with demonstrators across the country demanding that President Barack Obama reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Some 60 people from communities including Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley and Chicopee stood in the frigid cold holding signs with messages such as “No XL Pipeline, Bad for Planet Earth” and “No Tar Sands Oil” as motorists honked in appreciation.

“If we can mobilize political will to do what is scientifically necessary, our vision is that we can create a healthy and just and sustainable future,” said the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Northampton, an Episcopal priest who was one of the local organizers. “We need to stop investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, and make a swift transition to clean, safe renewable energy.”

The protest began at 4:30 p.m. and lasted about an hour. “I find it incredibly heartwarming that people are standing out here on this bitterly cold day,” Bullitt-Jonas added.

The Keystone XL project is an 1,100-mile section of pipeline proposed by TransCanada that would bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to southern Nebraska. Tuesday’s protest in Northampton was one of hundreds across the country following a call from environmental organizations to stand against the pipeline.

Organizers said the protest was originally planned for the Calvin Coolidge Bridge, and though it was moved due to the icy conditions, there were some protesters who gathered there Tuesday evening.

Drawing attention at the corner of Main and King Streets was “Mother Earth” portrayed by Tim Holcomb of Amherst in an approximately 7-foot costume made of many colors of fabric and a papier-mache head. The costume was made by Beth Fairservis of PachaMama Puppet Productions in Haydenville.

“It’s hard to argue with a puppet,” Holcomb said.

Irvine Sobelman of Northampton said that though political proponents of the pipeline have promoted it as a job-creator, this is not accurate. Some at the rally handed out fliers to passers-by, one of which stated that, “Experts estimate the pipeline will only provide 50 permanent jobs.”

Bullitt-Jonas noted that though not everyone at the protest might identify as religious, the cause has spiritual as well as moral significance for her.

“God gave the world into our care to love and to protect. That’s the first charge we were given as human beings,” she said.

She said it is also an issue of social justice in both the present and the future.

“Climate change affects the poor and low-income people first and hardest,” she said. “It’s also an issue of intergenerational justice because right now we are stealing a habitable world from our children and our children’s children.”

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at gmangiaratti@gazettenet.com.


 


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