Tag Archives: Climate Justice League

Student Describes Arrest during Tar Sands Protest

Photo taken by Monica Christoffels

-Sam Bouchat

Monica Christoffels drove across the country in a borrowed Prius. At the end of her journey she was arrested, and she regrets nothing.

Christoffels was arrested protesting the Keystone X.L. pipeline proposal outside the White House in late August.

The Keystone X.L. pipeline would transport oil from the Tar Sands in western Canada to oil refineries in Texas. It would stretch for 1,700 miles, through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. While the project would create jobs and lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the environmental risks are significant. Many protestors fear not just environmental damage from the pipeline, but also the repercussions of taking a $13 billion step away from renewable energy.

Christoffels heard about the Washington D.C. rally online through Tar Sands Action, the main protest group. To get there, she decided to join a caravan of cars travelling from Sacramento, California. She borrowed a car from another activist in Portland and headed out.

Christoffels, a 24-year-old dual enrollment student at the University of Oregon and Lane College, first began protesting in 2009, when she marched at the UO in protest of the Iranian presidential elections. Since, she has been involved with Power Shift West ’09, the Climate Justice League and a variety of other environmentally-aware organizations.

The Tar Sand Action movement, however, is a whole different level. A total of 1,252 people were arrested at the Washington D.C. rally, making it the largest display of civil disobedience since the 1970s.

On her cross-country trip, Christoffels and the rest of her caravan stopped and stayed with supporters in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia, where the caravan was stalled because of hurricane Irene. In every location, the protestors would hold up signs and raise awareness about its cause.

They also stopped in Wyoming, where the caravan received much negativity from the citizens.

“There was this one guy who said, ‘Go back home. Go eat your granola, go smoke your dope. We don’t want you here,’” said Christoffels. But the opposition did little to slow down the caravan.

On Monday, August 29, 2011, Christoffels and her fellow activists marched outside the White House. After three warnings from police to leave the area, the arrests began.

“That was probably the most nerve-wracking part of the experience,” said Christoffels at a presentation she held last Saturday. “You’re actively and consciously breaking the law. Every instinct tells you that you need to leave. It’s really hard for a lot of folks to disobey the police.”

But sometimes it’s necessary to get a point across. One-by-one, the Tar Sands activists were confined with zip-ties, shuffled into police vehicles and taken to Anacostia prison. After processing and paying a fine, they were advised not to get arrested again and let go. Christoffels stayed in D.C. to protest in front of the White House for another week.

Christoffels remains an active advocate for renewable energy and fights to get the Keystone X.L. pipeline proposal rejected.

Another anti-pipeline rally outside the White House is planned for November 6.

Coming Soon: Free Water

– Laura Lundberg

With the issues of climate change, Global Warming, and the ocean’s acidity level on the rise, sustainability seems to be a growing issue and a fast-paced trend. The University of Oregon is ranked as one of the top green colleges in the United States, and students have been continuing to try and make their campus even more sustainable in the past years.

As of mid-November, the proposal for a new Student Sustainability Center to be created in the new EMU was passed, offering the various sustainability groups on campus a hub for their campaigns. The Climate Justice League is one of the groups that brought up the proposal for a new student sustainability center. The Climate Justice League is a relatively new group to campus. It was started fall of 2009 and has made its presence known on campus with their innovative campaigns for environmental change on campus.

One of the Climate Justice League’s most prevalent campaigns is the “Take Back the Tap” campaign. Rachel Lytton, a campaign coordinator for the “Take Back the Tap” told me a bit about the campaign.

“Take Back the Tap’s ultimate goal is to discontinue the sales and distribution of bottled water on the University of Oregon campus,” she explained. They’ve made a decent amount of progress on this campaign in the past year, getting ever closer to their goal. “Take Back the Tap recently gained the support of the ASUO, which was a big win for Take Back the Tap and the Climate Justice League because it gets the campaign closer to being passed by the University of Oregon Senate,” she said. She also told me that the campus will hopefully be bottled water free by the end of the Spring 2011 term. Once this passes,  water bottles will no longer be in vending machines on campus, which will reduce the University’s waste considerably. “Currently, the housing department at the University of Oregon throws away about 175,000 water bottles every two months and the Food Service sells 3 – 4 kinds of bottled water. All this waste will be significantly reduced – if not eliminated – if Take Back the Tap passes,” she said.

Still, if Take Back the Tap passes, it will not be an overnight change. “The Climate Justice League supplies reusable water bottles to students who don’t have their own reusable water bottles. We’ve also installed around 30 – 40 water spigots throughout campus for students to refill their water bottles,” Rachel explained. The Climate Justice League is also creating maps to place around campus to direct students to the spigots.

Take Back the Tap has also written a petition for students and faculty to sign in order to show the University of Oregon Senate that the campus community supports the removal of water bottles on campus.

“Gaining support from the community is one of the most important things to making the Take Back the Tap’s goal a reality,” Rachel said. With the idea of sustainability becoming more present on campus, the Climate Justice League hopes to make more changes to the campus in order to make it more environmental.

The Climate Justice League welcomes new members every Tuesday in Straub 146 at 7 pm.