It was not my first protest—it was my first arrest.

 Yesterday, I was arrested by the U.S. Park Police for failing “to obey a lawful order.”  143 demonstrators failed to obey a police order to move off the sidewalk in front of the White House. We were demonstrating our opposition to the construction of a 1,600 mile long pipeline that would transport a highly toxic form of oil extracted from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas Gulf coast.

President Obama, who promised in his campaign to develop cleaner sources of energy, has the power to stop the pipeline and the attendant increase in the production of the dirtiest and most environmentally destructive source of energy.

 Mr. President – keep your promise.

 There are many reasons to oppose the pipeline. For me, the most compelling is that the people who live near the tar sands have been judged to be expendable. Studies have shown that arsenic, mercury, and other highly toxic pollutants are leaking from the tar sands containment ponds and adversely affecting the health of the people and wildlife, particularly fish and amphibians, in the area.  To produce the oil trees are bulldozed wholesale and the entire surface of the earth is stripped away. It’s even more destructive than mountain top removal.

The land has been judged to be expendable. Tar sands oil production threatens not only the life of the people but their entire way of life.  Transporting the tar sands oil by pipeline requires high pressure pumping. The proposed route would place it in the middle of the Ogallala aquifer, one of the largest fresh water aquifers in the world.  If a buried pipeline were to leak there who knows how long it would take it before it was detected? If it were a large spill, we would never get the stink out.

I feel obliged to add my voice to the voices of all the people whose health and way of life will be directly affected by the increased production of tar sands oil this pipeline would bring.  I feel obliged to add my voice to the voices of all the people whose land will be taken for the pipeline without their consent.  I feel obliged to add my voice to the voices of all the people whose water will be at risk of contamination by the pipeline. Their voices have been ignored or minimized.   Let us add our voice to theirs and demand,

Mr. President – hear our voices.


Rev. Craig C. Roshaven
Witness Ministries Director
Multicultural Growth and Witness
Unitarian Universalist Association

About the Author
Rev. Craig C. Roshaven
UUA Director of Witness Ministries


  1. Gene Hunter

    I was there for the September 3rd rally and was also arrested.
    The reasons mentioned for opposing the pipeline are true environmental concerns, The most important to me is how wrong the choice is to use this method of extracting and processing tar sands with natural gas that has been fracked to obtain oil. In addition to releasing 2.5 times the greenhouse gasses enormous amounts of water will be compromised. Pollution and global chaotic climate change will be a death sentence in the next 25 years for billions of beings planet wide from tar sands and other business as usual practices. We need to move to sustainable energy now !


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