Ohio Fractivists Greet Obama in Columbus: "No Fracking, No Pipeline!"
This post was written by 350 Ohio Field Organizer, Danny Berchenko
Ohio fracktivists have been fired up ever since Obama’s State of the Union speech in which he supported fracking the reserves of natural gas shale buried underneath the country, including under half of Ohio. Climate activists and youth whose futures are being burned up by the fossil fuel industry also were betrayed by the President’s announcement of his ‘All of the Above’ energy policy, which includes renewable energy only as a supplement to expanded drilling for oil and gas, not as a replacement.
And now in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave The President is touring the country touting ‘All of the Above’ and his acceleration of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Ohioans fought hard to stop that pipeline. We joined others to get arrested in front of the White House, we bird-dogged the President’s motorcade during visits to Ohio, and over 400 students marched through the streets of Cleveland last fall, during Midwest Power Shift, demanding Obama put a stop to Keystone XL and other disastrous energy projects.
I don’t know if the President was thinking that Ohioans got apathetic since then, but he just got an earful from the climate movement out here on what we think about ‘All of the Above’.
350 Ohio activists teamed up with the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition (OSEC) and Ohio fracktivists to greet the President on his visit to the Ohio State University in Columbus. With Obama coming fresh off of a trip to Chushing, OK where he stood in front of pipes slated to become the physical manifestation of what he once called ‘the tyranny of oil’, we rallied outside his event, while a contingent of students, led by OSEC coordinator Katie McChesney, entered the facility where the President was speaking, sitting only three rows away from the man.
Chants of “O-H-I-O, hydro-fracking’s got to go,” and “Hey Obama, we don’t want no climate drama,” could be heard outside, while shouts of “stop the pipeline!” disrupted the President’s speech inside. Aside from the dedicated activists inside and outside the event, the energy from the audience in general was one of passion for renewables and concern with the President’s support for burning more fossil fuels.
"The crowd cheered when the President mentioned wind, solar, and biofuels, but only silence when he endorsed the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline,” described Jason Box, OSU professor of climatology, who was inside listening to the President’s speech. “Students later disrupted his speech yelling ‘stop the pipeline!’ People want clean energy for the right reasons; clean air, clean water, jobs that don't trash the planet and tackling the growing problem of climate change."
If the President wants to inspire Ohio youth and others, then he’s going to have to get serious about making the choice between exacerbating climate impacts, and setting us on a new course to a truly renewable, sustainable energy future. Until then, he can expect to see a lot more of us on the campaign trail—we’re only just getting started.