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February 13, 2013

Today We Take Part in Civil Disobedience for the Climate

Allison-chinAllison Chin is the Sierra Club President.

This morning I will join 50 other people from diverse backgrounds in risking arrest outside the White House. We are demanding serious action on climate disruption from our elected leaders -- especially President Obama.

Our goal today is to both challenge and support President Obama.  During last night's State of the Union, we applauded when spoke about the need for action on climate disruption 'before it's too late.' We couldn't agree more that the time to act is now. 

It's time for him match his rhetoric with action.

Specifically, President Obama must reject the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would enable extraction of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. He must double down on clean energy and cut carbon pollution from smokestacks across the country. And he must stand up to fossil fuel companies that would rather drive us over the climate cliff than adapt and evolve.

We're asking the president to use every resource he has at his disposal -- from the bully pulpit to the executive order -- to take climate action now. And we’re telling him that our planet and the American people can’t wait for the political dust to settle, for Congress to wise up, or for another devastating storm to strike before we do something.

This call for climate action is important enough that, for the first time in our 120-year history, we have suspended the Sierra Club's long-standing policy that prohibits civil disobedience. Today is a one-time event to face arrest in order to elevate discussion about a critical issue.

The reason for our decision should come as no surprise. Nothing is more important at this moment in history than for President Obama and all of our elected leaders to take on the threat of climate disruption. Climate-fueled freak weather like record droughts, wildfires and Superstorm Sandy has destroyed communities, economies, and the safety of American families. 

Unless we act now, and act with strength, this could become the new normal. We must demand bold climate solutions and clean energy innovation.    

The decision to suspend our provision disallowing civil disobedience did not come lightly. In order to justify civil disobedience, the wrong must be so profound that it demands the strongest defensible protest. For Henry David Thoreau it was ending slavery. For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was ending institutionalized racism and securing civil rights for all Americans.  

We recognize that civil disobedience is not something that everyone can endorse; that it will be controversial. But we believe the future of our planet demands no less. 

We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes. To stand aside and let it happen -- even though we know how to stop it-- would be unconscionable. Enough is enough. Today at the White House, I am standing up and doing whatever it takes to fight the climate crisis and stop the Keystone XL pipeline.


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