There's something uniquely heartwarming about seeing one's boss being hauled off to the pokey--especially for a good cause. That's what happened this morning when Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Sierra Club President Allison Chin, and 46 others were arrested while conducting civil disobedience in front of the White House, demanding that President Obama nix the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Doing so would not seem to be much of a stretch, considering the President's words about the importance of acting on climate change in last night in his State of the Union address:
"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. . . . If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
President Obama's own EPA has estimated that building the Keystone pipeline would boost U.S. carbon emissions by 27.6 million metric tons--the same as if we put another 6 million cars on the road. (New research suggests that that figure may underestimate the carbon toll by a further 16.6 million tons.) Today's civil disobedience--the first in the Sierra Club's 120-year history--was a simple but forceful invitation to the President to follow up on his promise.
PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber