Environmental Justice: Why I Got Arrested to Stop Keystone XL

The following is based off of an interview with Alejandro de la Torre the night before he was arrested to protect an East Texas family farm from Keystone XL’s destruction.

I’m willing to risk arrest because I have a certain amount of personal privilege that allows me to participate. I don’t live near a Gulf refinery, or on land that’s at risk from a devastating tar sands spill, so I’m able to play a small part in an action that will really help people’s lives.  I’m here to stand up for people on the front lines because they’re being trampled to make way for corporate profits.

People in Port Arthur and my home in Houston are the ones who will be bearing the brunt of the toxic emissions from the tar sands refineries and they’re not going to see any of the economic benefits. This is just another example of how people of color and low-income folks are placed in “sacrifice zones” for our current economic system. A system ruled by fossil fuel industry greed and the trampling of the rights of people and our environment.

I’m sick of seeing these devastating affects on a personal and community level and on a grand global scale in which corporations and their profits call all the shots.

Exploiting tar sands is a ridiculous project and shows how desperate corporations are to scrape the bottom of the fossil fuels barrel and completely ignore the reality of the toll they are taking on people’s lives for a short-term profit.  This pipeline means disaster for people here in Texas and all over the world.

After growing up in New Orleans the destruction of Katrina was eye opening to the massive toll, both human and non-human that is being taken. Climate change is a major issue for me. People need to listen to what our scientists are saying about this crisis.

Its depressing to see how far things have gotten with ecological destruction with the toll on our natural world and on our ability to continue to live in it. Today’s action is a small thing I can do right now and I hope that more and more people take action because we’re running out of time to prevent run-away climate change.

What motivates me to stand up to all of this? The belief that we need to do the best we can to stop as much of this destruction as possible and demonstrate that there are social movements that will stand up to challenge it.  We need to escalate our tactics to match the degree to which people are repressed and shut out of the decision making process.

I’m excited to see the Tar Sands Blockade campaign has sprung up in Texas and united multiple landowners to stand with other supporters against TransCanada’s bullying.  People are working so hard and putting in so much effort to hold the line down here. I encourage everyone to do what you can to contribute, whether it’s a donation if you have the means, joining an action like me, or getting involved in your local community. Together we can make a difference.

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