Written by Gregg Brekke
United Church of Christ and other faith leaders opposed to Keystone XL pipeline proclaimed their support of President Obama's January 18 decision to deny a permit for construction of a 1,700-mile pipeline that would have transported heavy crude oil trapped in tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement.
The UCC's Massachusetts Conference Minister, the Rev. Jim Antal, and the UCC's Policy Advocate for Domestic Issues in the Washington, D.C., office, the Rev. Mari Castellanos, were arrested on separate days last summer during the organized protest against the pipeline's construction.
"People who love God love creation and today – from Nebraska to New York; from Massachusetts to Monterey – people of faith are rejoicing," said Antal. "President Obama has rejected the lobbyists and their congressional representatives. The President has heard our cry and pondered the testimony of 1,257 witnesses arrested at his front door last August. In rejecting Keystone, he is inviting all of us to push him to keep moving ahead. We must give voice to a vision of a sustainable planet."
Castellanos is jubilant at the decision, but recognizes proponents of the pipeline are looking at other options for its construction. "This was worth getting arrested for," she said. "Even if we have to do it again when they consider the more western route [for the pipeline], at least the sand hill cranes are safe for now."
The permit denial allows the pipeline's owner, TransCanada Corporation, to submit an application with a new route that avoids the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills. The administration’s decision includes language making it clear that TransCanada can reapply, stating, “The determination does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for subsequent projects.”
Executive Director and CEO of UCC global mission partner Church World Service the Rev. John L. McCullough said the controversial project would have been a backward step in the administration's commitment to investing in clean and renewable energy sources.
"As a humanitarian organization, CWS and our partners work directly with people who already have been struggling for years to overcome the devastating effects of climate change on their lives, especially in regard to food security. We cannot make their burden any heavier by exhibiting a lack of care for this planet," said McCullough.
The UCC's Minister for Environmental Justice the Rev. Jim Deming offered his personal thanks to those who protested, advocated with elected officials or took part in grass root awareness campaigns.
we may look back at this moment as the turning point in the campaign where we
turned our backs on dirty and unhealthy energy sources and began to work
towards substantial changes in the energy economy," said Deming. "For
now, we can celebrate the moment, but know that the road ahead will remain
difficult until we finally say goodbye to those who would foul the air and water
for their own personal gain."
More information is available at the UCC's environmental justice site.