Richmond, VA — As Vice President Biden arrived in Richmond tonight to address a Democratic Party of Virginia fundraiser, climate activists greeted him with one message: “No Keystone XL pipeline.” Biden, who will deliver the keynote speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, was met by anti-pipeline yard signs on his route to the Convention Center and his motorcade drove directly past about 70 climate activists lining the streets outside of the venue. Protesters called on the Obama administration to reject the tar sands oil pipeline in order to protect Virginians from rising seas, extreme weather and other intensifying climate change impacts.
Photos from the event can be accessed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chesapeakeclimate/sets/72157634395068673/
President Obama committed in a major speech this week to reject the Keystone XL pipeline if it will increase the carbon emissions causing climate change, which the nation’s leading climate scientists conclude it will. President Obama’s speech arrived on the heels of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine’s announcement that he’s opposed to the pipeline, published in a Washington Post op-ed on June 21. As Senator Kaine’s car drove into the event tonight, he gave a friendly wave to the activists.
“Folks in Norfolk and Virginia Beach are already seeing the effects of climate change at their doorsteps. Rising temperatures cause rising seas and more severe storms to flood coastal homes and small businesses,” said Keith Thirion, Virginia Field Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Burning through more and more polluting sources of energy, like Canada’s tar sands, will only increase the risks for coastal Virginia.”
Carrying banners that read, “Virginians Against the Keystone XL Pipeline,” and chanting, “Joe Biden raise your voice, reaffirm your keystone choice,” the rallyers worked to grab the Vice President’s attention as his motorcade drove into downtown. Several local citizens spoke at the rally, calling on Vice President Biden to reaffirm a comment he shared with a Keystone XL fighter at a South Carolina fish fry when he replied to her question regarding his stance on the pipeline, “I’m with you, but, I’m in the minority.”
Young Democrats inside the dinner also voiced their disapproval of the pipeline by wearing “No KXL” buttons.
April Moore, a local activist who spoke at the rally, highlighted the significance of the event: “President Obama just made a commitment to us this week that if Keystone will contribute to climate change, he will reject it. We are here today to make sure the Administration knows that the pipeline would have disastrous effects on our climate, especially here in Virginia. We hope Vice President Biden will bring back our message to the White House: Virginians want to stop the Keystone pipeline.”
Over the last two years, Virginians have contributed to the national movement to stop Keystone XL pipeline by holding more than a dozen events highlighting the climate risks the commonwealth faces. The fight against the pipeline has energized millions of Americans who see the issue as a test of the Obama administration’s commitment to dealing with the climate crisis. For the past several months, activists have met President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Kerry at nearly all of their public events and demanded that the President keep his promises on climate change by rejecting the permit for the pipeline.
Saturday’s rally was organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Energy Action Coalition, and 350.org.