How CEO & Founder Tom Kemper “stepped up to the plate” on the Keystone XKL Pipeline issue

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It must have been shortly after the beginning of January 2013, when I opened my email and read a message from 350.org, announcing a Forward on Climate Rally to be held in DC on February 17, 2013.

I was heavily engaged in a physical health battle with Lyme Disease, unable to travel, and was quite frustrated because I longed to be there with all the others who would say “NO” to the Keystone XL pipeline. This has been an issue that grabbed my attention early on, simply because the extraction process is so very destructive, in a place where the land, under which the tar sands oil is deposited, is so delicate and sensitive. Many people opposing the construction of the KXL pipeline were willing to be arrested, and were arrested, to evidence their committed opposition to its completion. Additionally, most economists and scientists who are highly knowledgeable in the science and economics of this type fossil fuel extraction, production, and transport, are all in agreement that the amount of energy needed to successfully extract, produce, transport, refine, and capture the energy through burning this nasty and toxic crude, far exceeds the energy that this very toxic tar sands oil will yield. So, you might ask, “why would someone go to all this trouble to garner such a small return, or, no return on their investment?”

Good question. Some say, “Because Canada needs jobs”.

Since I wasn’t able to travel to DC last February, I began to consider what I would have spent, had I been able to fly to DC to attend the rally. Well, there’d be:

  • Airfare
  • Lodging for 2-3 nights
  • Breakfast x 3
  • Lunch x 3
  • Dinner x 3
  • Cab fare
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Before all is said and done, I’d have spent somewhere between $2500.00 and $3500.00.

I thought some more, and the idea came to me…

since I couldn’t go, I should take the money I’d have spent, and send some students who otherwise would not have been able to afford the cost to attend the rally, sending them in my place!

I called a friend knowing she just might have a way to reach Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, one of the organizations co-sponsoring the DC rally. Margie came up with an email address which would connect me with Mr. McKibben.

I composed an introduction email to McKibben, sharing my thoughts on sending some students to the rally in DC. I asked him if he knew how we might find students from Texas who had expressed an interest in attending the February 17 rally, yet needed financial assistance.

He assured me he would talk with the 350.org staff about finding some Texas students who I would fund. He also stated he would have a staff member contact me shortly, to arrange at least four students attending.

Soon thereafter, my office received that call, ultimately making arrangements to send six Texas college students to DC for the rally.

After putting more thought into our plan, it occurred to me, why not send a camera person to follow the students, and have the students report back to us, sharing with us their DC Rally experience? With some great video footage, we could multiply the intended outcome of the rally, using the power of video and the internet to increase awareness of issues regarding the KXL.

I made a couple calls to find a camera crew in Dallas area colleges and I found two such students at UT/Arlington. Those two students became an eventual crew made up of Elliott Gilbert II and Rustin Rodgers. Elliott and Rustin have continually worked on not just the film for the documentary, they’ve also been so diligent in setting up screenings to create awareness among those who know little or nothing about the KXL pipeline issue.

Many versions of this documentary had been submitted to us for consideration, and, while we kept saying, “needs more this, needs more that, and where’s the part that evokes a call to action?“, Elliott and Rustin continued going back to do more filming and editing. They also, like most kids in college, kept coming back for more money!

Here we are today, fifteen to twenty edited films later, with a documentary entitled “Cry Heard ‘round the World” telling the story of the largest climate change rally in history, and why that rally was formed to shut down the continued assault by Big Oil and other proponents of the disastrous practice of extracting oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Western Canada.

We DO NOT need any more extraction of oil, particularly tar sands crude that requires more BTUs of energy to extract it, than it’s extraction will yield, not to mention the fact that this toxic tar sands crude will emit 82% more air pollutants and greenhouse gases in the completion process than conventional crude!

We DO NOT need a dangerous pipeline traversing the United States from north to south, through a stretch of land – including federal and state government park lands, peoples’ personal property (taken through eminent domain, not by US corporations, but by foreign multinational corporations) and farmlands — that is required to transport this dirty crude oil across our country, so we can send it to China, for production of more cheap, unsustainable, and poorly-manufactured goods — produced by US multinational corporations, whose executive officers reap ever-higher annual incomes in the multi-millions of dollars, higher corporate profits, and of course, who pay little to NO income taxes and no corporate taxes.

Enough is enough!

NO Keystone XL pipeline!

NO tar sands crude!

Carbon dioxide gas in our atmosphere at 400 parts per million puts us way past the danger zone. We’ve surpassed 350 ppm, the agreed safe limit of CO2 and the level continues rising.

We must all work together, doing whatever we can to do our part in reducing the current carbon dioxide increase trend. Not only for those of us now here on Earth, we must decrease the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere for our children, and, their children.

We must take the money being spent on KXL and redirect it to investment in renewables!

We must begin doing so now.

We must take action.

Please write your Congressperson and your Senator. Do so today, please. For your children and their children’s future.

Click here  for the contact information for your elected representatives.

Watch Cry Heard ‘Round the World Documentary below:

Please share the documentary after you’ve watched it.

Thank you.

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