This week, 10 Nobel Laureates sent President Obama a letter urging him to reject the Keystone tar sands pipeline, and now 145 people from his very own campaign staff are doing the same.
On Monday, two of them were arrested during an act of civil disobedience in Chicago.
"Climate change is not an abstraction for my generation – it’s a reality that we are dealing with now. The president has repeatedly promised action and we expect him to be true to his word. Climate change is a top issue for the youth voters that worked day-in and day-out to elect President Obama – the president promised action and we are going to hold him to his word, lead on climate, and reject Keystone XL," says Andrew Nazdin, who was arrested. He served as Deputy Training Director for Organizing For Action (OFA) in Virginia during the 2012 campaign.
"I worked day and night for President Obama because I knew he’d make the right call on decisions like the Keystone XL pipeline. Everyone on this letter believes in the President to do the right thing and stop this pipeline," says Ben Wessel, who served in the 2012 campaign as New Hampshire Youth Vote Director.
At the Chicago rally, they announced that actions will escalate this summer that include former staff, donors, and supporters.
Over 62,000 people have pledged to risk arrest if the president moves forward with Keystone, and to date over 1,500 people have been arrested to stop the tar sands pipeline.
Here is the letter:
Dear President Obama,
On November 7th, the day after election day, we took a break from entering last-minute data or cleaning our OFA field offices and crowded around iPhones and laptops to listen to you talk.
From strip malls, grungy basements, and non-descript headquarters in our adopted communities of Petersburg, VA or Manchester, NH or Aurora, CO, we paused for five minutes to hear from the man who inspired us to leave our homes and give every last ounce of energy to re-elect our President, a leader so awe-inspiring that we’d tear up just knowing he’d be in our zip code. You told us on the phone that day, "When I was your age, I had this vague inkling about making a difference, but I didn’t know how to do it…I ended up becoming a community organizer." So did we.
It’s in that spirit that we write to ask you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. We trust you to make the right decision after you weigh all arguments, but one thing you taught us as organizers is that nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. Mr. President, we are just a few of the millions of young people across the country who are frightened at the prospect of runaway climate change. One of the reasons we came to work for you in the first place is because we trust you understand how big this challenge is.
You can help cement your legacy as a climate champion by rejecting this pipeline. You already know all the reasons we can’t afford this pipeline — that it will lock in gigatons of carbon pollution over the next four decades and that it could spill into our nation’s most valuable water sources — we’re just asking you to think of us when you make up your mind.
Dozens of supporters across the country told us they were casting their ballot for someone they could count on to make the tough calls when it came to our security and our health care and our climate. They voted for you, Mr. President, because we told them you’d be on the right side of history when you had to make these calls. Because we knew you’d do the right thing and stop this pipeline.
You closed out our call on November 7th by saying to us, "Over the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with the frustrations of Washington, I just look to you. I think about what you guys are going to do. That’s the source of my hope and my inspiration, and I know that you guys won’t disappoint me." For so long you have been the source of our hope and inspiration. Please don’t disappoint us. Reject Keystone XL.
Signed, your campaign staff