Interrupting the President
When she saw the man she voted for three years ago on Tuesday, she interrupted him during a pause in his speech to ask him to veto the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.
“He had been talking about our future, and that’s what vetoing Keystone XL is about: It’s about protecting not only the climate, but also our water sources and our agricultural fields and our indigenous land for the people that come after us,” Klagsbrun said.
Klagsbrun and junior Ken Kumanomido, the president of Green Action, spent $250 each on tickets to an Obama campaign event at the Renaissance Grand Hotel. The money was donated from outside sources.
The two students, who were dressed in their best, put messages on the inside of their jackets urging the president to veto the pipeline. On their backs, they donned Obama’s campaign symbol.President Obama acknowledged their interruption after finishing his speech, noting the presence of environmentalists in the crowd.
“We care about the president a lot, and we were not there to bash him but to show our support and push him to do the right thing,” Klagsbrun said. “Listening to his speech reminded me that he’s just a person and that we need to push him and hold him accountable, and that it’s not bashing him to tell him what we think, because he is our president.”
The proposed pipeline is a 1,700-mile-long line that would bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.
Activists across the nation have been urging Obama to veto the pipeline because of its possible environmental consequences. They say the pipeline would introduce the potential of oil spills, require construction across the country’s heartland (including Nebraska, Oklahoma and Illinois) and be a significant investment in oil as opposed to alternative, cleaner energy sources.
In July, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial in support of the pipeline, arguing that the multi-billion-dollar project would create 100,000 jobs and reduce the U.S.’s reliance on foreign oil.
When Obama visited St. Louis for a few hours on Tuesday for a campaign event, 30 members of Green Action and even more from Occupy St. Louis, the local branch of Occupy Wall Street, decided to remind him that they want him to veto the proposal.
“They gave the president the message of ‘Yes you can; you have the power to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. We want to work for you, but we need you to re-inspire us,’” Klagsbrun said.
Klagsbrun said that the crowd members’ reactions to her interruption were mixed. Some people told her she had been rude, and one crowd member even tried to pull Kumanomido’s jacket away from him.
A few other people, she said, thanked her for reminding the president about a pressing issue. Others had never heard of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and promised to look into it.
“We [Green Action members] support Obama. We know that he knows what the right thing is, and our job is to create the support for him to be able to do what’s right,” Klagsbrun said.