On October 7th I went to the Tar Sands Keystone XL pipeline hearing in Washington, D.C. It was the last of a series of hearings the State Department conducted in locations throughout the U.S. that the proposed oil pipeline would be running through. The room was full of hundreds of people, many of them signed up to testify before the panel voicing their support or protest to the pipeline. Some of the speakers had traveled thousands of miles just to be at this hearing, and even camped out all night to make sure they got a chance to sign up to be one of the first speakers.
I found myself tearing up during some of the testimonies from farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, desperate for the State Department to deny the pipeline because they would lose their land and ultimately, their way of living. Sitting in the hearing, looking around at all of the people who had shown up to testify, I was strangely filled with a sense of hope that so many people cared about what happened with this oil pipeline. It showed me that people are engaged and involved, and that there is a freedom in this country for people to voice their opinions to those making decisions. While I do not know what the final decision on this pipeline will be, there is clearly something happening all across the country. With the “Occupy Wall Street” efforts that moved into D.C. this past week, the different rallies and the Tar Sands hearings, there is a movement, a stirring, an energy arising. Whether it is because people are fed up with the way things have been going in the government lately, or there is a newfound confidence that raising our voices will enact change, there is a palpable energy in the air downtown. People are speaking out for what they believe in and I hope that the government will actually listen.