This post from Rose Marie Berger originally appeared at the Sojourners Blog. Rose is a Catholic poet and peace activist who writes about empire, art, social justice and activism. She is organizing a contingent of faith leaders to participate in the Tar Sands Action on August 29th – to join her, sign up here. President Barack Obama will decide as early as September whether to light a fuse to the largest carbon bomb in North America. That bomb is the massive tar sands field in Canada’s Alberta province. And the fuse is the 1,700-mile long Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport this dirtiest of petroleum fuels all the way to Texas refineries. The Keystone XL Pipeline is a climate and pollution horror beyond description. From August 20 to September 3, thousands of Americans — including Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, and thousands more — will be at the White House, day after day, demanding Obama reject this tar sands pipeline. I’m going to be there, and I hope you will join me — we need your voice. On August 29, religious communities around the country are sending their “living witnesses” to stop this pipeline. Buddhists, Catholics, Jews, and Protestants, Black church leaders, Unitarians, and Mennonites will worship together in front of the White House celebrating God’s deliverance from this tar sands “poison pill” being shoved down the throat of America. (For more information on August 29’s interfaith witness, email Tim at telltheworddc[at]gmail.com.) The Tar Sands action will be going on for two weeks, but you only need to be there for one day — so join the “religious contingent” on August 29 or pick a day between August 20 and September 3 that you can make it to D.C., and let the world know just what you think of the tar sands. Given the high stakes, many protesters will engage in peaceful civil disobedience, day after day to make their voices heard. Already the attention this event is getting will likely make it the biggest act of civil disobedience in the climate movement’s history. In 2009, Catholic Bishop Luc Bouchard of Alberta, Canada, wrote a prophetic pastoral letter warning of the moral danger of this pipeline:
When there is uncertainty as to whether a development project seriously endangers the environment, a pre-cautionary principle utilizing prudence and caution should guide the decision making process which itself must be administratively transparent. Therefore, massive projects that clearly endanger the environment must be approached in a deliberate, open, and consultative manner.Bishop Bouchard has been fighting tar sands production in his backyard for years — while also defending jobs in his archdiocese. Now all of us can help. Pro-oil lobbies will undoubtedly tell President Obama that America needs the jobs and so must accept the pipeline. But there are thousands of Americans who are saying “No more dirty work! Give us clean, green jobs for a healthy planet and healthy families.” President Obama alone — without input from Congress — has the power to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. He will decide as soon as September whether to honor his campaign pledge to create a clean-energy economy or lock us into a future where this land is no longer our land. Building this pipeline will be an economic and moral setback for clean-energy sources of all types. This is a line in the sand. The tar sands!