Maybe it’s not fair to hold that vote against him; most Americans and most politicians hadn’t yet focused on the pipeline fight. But over the course of that summer we helped organize what turned into the biggest civil disobedience action about anything in 30 years in this country. One thousand, two hundred and fifty-three people went to jail for sitting in outside the White House, and a bunch of them were from Massachusetts. Heck, I spent three days in DC’s main jail, three cells down from Jim Antal, chief minister of the Massachusetts United Church of Christ. Bobby Kennedy Jr. has been arrested fighting this pipeline—he called it the best example of the lawless rule of the fossil fuel industry. (His son Conor has gone to jail too—in fact, an astonishing number of stories about our most recent civil disobedience had the headline: ‘Taylor Swift’s Ex Arrested at White House”).
That protest helped alert the White House that it should take a closer look at the proposal, and in November of 2011 it called a year-long timeout for further study. But three months later Lynch voted once more to override the president and force approval of the pipeline. He was, once again, the only member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to do so. And this time ignorance was no excuse.
Why not some other state? Why focus on Massachusetts? Well, here’s 10 reasons to start with. Because a lot of Massachusetts is at sea level, and the ocean is rising even faster than scientists predicted. (Last summer the Arctic melted so badly that 80 percent of its summer ice is now gone, and Greenland showed dangerous signs of destabilizing.) Because people in Massachusetts suffer more asthma attacks as the temperature goes up. Because summers are getting too hot and winters too short. Because the storms that pound the coast are getting fiercer. Because people in Massachusetts care about the rest of the world, too, where 100 million people are expected to die from the effects of fossil fuel unless we quickly rein in our consumption. Because Massachusetts is a lovely part of this planet we call earth, which faces a challenge greater than it has ever faced. Because the state understands that its economic future lies not with fossil fuels but with a green-tech revolution. Because it’s hard to play pond hockey anymore. Because the Atlantic Ocean is 30 percent more acidic than it was 40 years ago—seawater changes its chemistry as it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. Because all of this is just starting—we’ve raised the temperature one degree and it has melted the Arctic, and the scientists who predicted that outcome tell us we’re in for a rise in temperature of four or five degrees unless we get to work fast. Fast. Not at a convenient pace, but fast. Doing all that we can.
: News Features
, Ed Markey, Paul Tsongas, pipeline, More