News | Student Life

Students heading to Washington this weekend to protest Keystone XL pipeline

  • Justin Chan / Senior Staff Photographer
    PIPELINE PROTEST | Michael Greenberg and Iliana Salazar-Dodge, both CC '16, are organizing a group of students to travel to Washington D.C. this weekend to protest the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a larger nationwide student action.

A group of Columbia students are planning to travel to Washington, D.C. this weekend to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.

The students will participate in the XL DISSENT event, organized by students from 49 colleges and universities, on March 2 to call upon President Barack Obama, CC ’83, to reject the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, an oil pipeline that runs from Western Canada to the United States.

The protest will begin at Georgetown’s campus and end with a sit-in outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. The organizers expect between eight and ten people to make the trip to Washington.

Michael Greenberg, CC ’16, started organizing Columbia’s contingent for the march last year after working for the environmental action group 350.org, a nonprofit that looks to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. 

Greenberg said that his work for 350.org enabled him to connect with environmental activists at other colleges and universities to help organize the XL DISSENT event and build a network of DISSENT activists on Columbia’s campus. 

“We’re starting at Georgetown because that’s where Obama’s [June 2013] climate speech was held,” Greenberg said. “We want to hold him accountable to protect future generations.”

The march is intended to end at the White House for a sit-in. D.C. municipal law, however, prohibits protests in front of the White House. Greenberg said that anyone participating in the event risks arrest as well as a fine.

“They have a range of charges they can bring, such as disobeying an officer,” Greenberg said. “Initially, it looked like it was going to be arrest and a $100 fine, but now it looks more like $50.”

“My parents weren’t thrilled, but they accepted that they weren’t changing my mind,” Greenberg added.

Iliana Salazar-Dodge, CC ’16, will travel to D.C. along with Greenberg for the protest. 

“We were both at the [January 2013] Forward on Climate rally when Obama was playing golf with oil executives,” Salazar-Dodge said. “He has no choice but to pay attention this time.”

Both Greenberg and Salazar-Dodge passionately emphasized the importance of addressing climate change, and said that doing so wouldn’t come at the expense of short-term energy security.

“I believe sincerely that climate change is probably the most pressing issue that humanity is facing,” Salazar-Dodge said. “It even encompasses racial issues, generational issues, and one generation is benefitting at the future’s expense.”

“It’s a false dichotomy between relying on Middle Eastern oil and taking our own national lands and drilling on them,” Greenberg said. “The amount of potential that renewable energy has is enormous, and it’s perfectly possible to have both energy independence and clean energy.”

Salazar-Dodge also emphasized that next week’s march had been planned well in advance, and that they were willing to take the risks that the sit-in would bring.

“People are going to think that we’re college students with too much time on our hands, but that’s not the case,” Salazar-Dodge noted. “I’ve thought about this long and hard and it’s an action I want to take.”

This isn’t the first time Columbia students have rallied against the Keystone XL pipeline. Last February, students in Barnard-Columbia Divest, which also called upon Columbia to divest from the fossil fuel industry, went to D.C. to demonstrate against the pipeline at a rally organized by 350.org, the Sierra Club, and the Hip Hop Caucus.

Though Greenberg has been in touch with Barnard Columbia Divest, he also said the two groups are separate.  

“I’m so excited people are each willing to incur the risk in exchange for contributing to the movement. It’s beautiful to see,” Greenberg said.

If students are in interested in joining the group headed to D.C., they can contact Greenberg at msg2179@columbia.edu.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that only two students were going. There were two students present at an interview, but the organizers said they expect between eight and ten students to make the trip. Additionally, an earlier version of this story said that Greenberg and Salazar-Dodge attended the Hybrid rally instead of the Forward on Climate rally. Spectator regrets the errors.

luke.barnes@columbiaspectator.com  |  @LukeBarnes1292

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Iliana posted on

Thanks for the article. I just wanted to point out that the quotes are very rough representations of what we said and are not fully accurate. Also, There are about 15-20 people attending this protest from Columbia/NYC. We were at the Forward on Climate Rally in February of 2013, not the Hybrid Rally.

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Anonymous posted on

hippies

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Anonymous posted on

Woopdee doo. Why don't you go write an op-ed about it.

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Anonymous posted on

"Movements" like this serve no cause other than their participants' egos.

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Anonymous posted on

The ridiculous part about their protest is not actually the validity of their arguments. (That's up for debate.) It's that they are purposefully and actively engaging in "civil disobedience" (read: illegal activity) simply for the sake of media coverage. It's not in this article, but on their website, Facebook page, and elsewhere they readily purport this point. They could have easily applied for a permit to rally and had the exact same march. But, they choose to do so illegally simply because they believe their own cause to be objectively better than any of the other thousands of groups which protest in Washington every year, and thus they can break the rules just to garner attention. There are laws for a reason and breaking them just for the sake of doing so does not put you on a moral high ground -- I resent the comparisons to Thoreau and Gandhi found on their Facebook event page and find this whole protest to be perplexing and distracting to the issue at hand.

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actually posted on

Actually: "We have received permits from the appropriate authorities for the march and the rally at Lafayette Square.

Once at the White House, as long as you are on the sidewalk in front of the White House and keep moving you aren’t breaking any regulations. The action organizers have applied for permits to be on the sidewalk in front of the White House for the entirety of the action. We don’t need a permit for the closed portion of Penn. Ave., NW (1600 block) because that’s technically DC jurisdiction. "

Fucking read up bro.

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robert evinger posted on

I am supportive of any efforts to end this xl pipeline folly, wrong for so many reasons, the greatest of which is the opening of an oil field the size of florida of the dirtiest form of oil. the president seems concerned about climate change, but until we see some action his words are just rhetoric. climate change is the greatest issue of our time.

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VTROOTS posted on

Everyone does what they can...The farmers in Nebraska can't travel to DC to directly "petition their representatives for change." The Students on the east coast can't participate directly in blocking a foreign company from getting Imminent Domain power over US Citizens. There are soooo many reasons this project is a Bad Idea, and only so many opportunities to try to fight the "Drill baby Drill" disinformation that leads 62 percent of the country to think this will somehow contribute to US Energy needs. We wish the students luck in breaking through the mainstrean media acquiesence to the oil state.

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shag posted on

Interesting position and the pipe line verses import is noted. However petroleum fuels will not decrease in consumption today tomorrow next week or next year. Stopping the pipe line might help as it will keep us more reliant on less cost effective methods of getting our precious go juice. Higher cost less consumption. Lack of a pipe line also helps to keep us politically invested in regions or countries where the oil comes from. As we know Political Investment is not always a benefit to the locals, many more protest in the offing here.

It is a great thing to suggest alternative energy over expanding the consumption of petroleum based fuels. This is what you should be fighting for! Protest for a light bulb subsidy that makes CFL or Induction lighting more cost effective than incandescent. Protest for greater subsidies to support US solar energy products. Protest for a million miles of Bike paths across the country.

Protest or support for, take action for, but protesting for don’t, is like trying to stop the freight train on a downhill grade. Yes that TV commercial of the little kid standing in front of the global warming train,…she got flattened last week.

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Shag posted on

To express this another way, In the world that you live, or in an atmosphere of capitalist progressives.

When there is a fortune to made building public transportation systems that get people enjoyably and reliably to work on time, and more cost effectively than a car, this sector will grow. When an energy saving CFL cost less than an incandescent this sector will grow. When people can hang solar panels on the roof and heat, cool and light their homes for less than the power company can (without a 20 year recoup), this sector will grow. When people can buy an electric car (Keep at it Tesla!) for about the same price as a Escape or Neon, this sector will grow.

When consumers have the ability to pump cheap dyno juice into the tank it does not matter how many Tigers in the tank, Arabs, Black Footed Ferrets or lbs of CO2 are factored in. Low cost and convenience just make those lumpy things flowing into the fuel tank magically disappear.

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