Last Sunday, Ramapo students from 1STEP participated in a march against the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, D.C. Three organizations dedicated to environmental awareness, 350.org, the Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus, organized the rally in order to address the controversy behind the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
350.org is an Internet-based, civically minded, grassroots organization committed to environmental advocacy and citizen awareness. According to the organization's mission statement from their official website, the group anticipates creating "a wave of hard-hitting climate action all over the world that can lead to a real, lasting, large-scale change."
"This was the biggest climate rally ever held in the United States. It was covered by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CBS, the Huffington Post, and other major networks," explained Cecilia Louie, 1Step member. "I wanted to participate because I'm a huge advocate for sustainability. It was such a great experience for all of us, but we had no idea there would be so many people. We actually made history. There were 50,000 attendees there, and amongst them, students from over 200 different colleges nationally."
The proposition behind the Keystone Pipeline System, originally proposed by TransCanada Corporation one of the largest North American energy companies in 2005 and later in 2009 as Keystone XL, is to extract oil from northeastern Canada through an extensive, lengthy pipeline to different refinery sites in the United States, separated into four different phases. Oil distribution refineries included in these phases are located in Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska, Montana, along the Gulf Coast of Texas, and more.
"What happens if that spills, leaks, or catches fire?" Cecilia Louie asked.
Sophomore Heather Darley said "Being among the tens of thousands of protestors gave me hope for a cleaner and healthier future for generations to come. I often feel discouraged sitting in environmental classes, but after marching through the streets of D.C. with the incredible energy of the countless passionate environmentalists, I know that with patience and perseverance change may be possible."
Junior Billy Capozzi said, "It's a good thing the environmental movement is showing strength with numbers. It shows there are people genuinely concerned with the planet, and that there is a constituency that wants the U.S. to stand up as a major player in sustainability. Hopefully, we'll see more of this as well as more action from the Obama administration."