Monday, July 6, 2020
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April Moore


Activists Confront Sen. Mark Warner Over Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline

by April Moore

I was assigned the position at the back door of the restaurant. If Sen. Warner tried to avoid the large, determined crowd in front of the Harrisonburg eatery by sneaking in through the back, he would first have to deal with me.

And I knew just what I would tell him. I would first remind him that we had met last Labor Day when my husband Andy Schmookler, the 6th District Congressional candidate, gave what Lowell Feld called a 'kick ass' speech that brought 350 Democrats to their feet, including Sen. Warner. But this time I felt we would be meeting on less harmonious ground because of his vote last week in support of a non-binding resolution recommending that the Keystone XL Pipeline project go forward.

"Your legacy is going to depend on one thing above all," I was going to tell him. "It won't be long before everyone realizes that we are in great peril because of climate change. People will want to know," I would continue, "what he did--or failed to do--to protect us from the ravages of a changing climate."

But then, the folks in front of the restaurant sent me word that I should abandon my post; the Senator had already made his way through the crowd in front and was inside the restaurant. When I rejoined my companions in front, I gathered that they were less than satisfied with the interactions they'd been able to have with the Senator. Nonetheless, he'd had to push his way through about 70 of his unhappy constituents, whose deep concerns were reflected in numerous signs, sporting such slogans as "Sen. Warner:  What Have You Done for the Climate?" and "Don't Commit to Dirty Oil.  Invest in Renewable Energy."

The Keystone XL Pipeline, if built, would carry some of the world's highest carbon tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through America's heartland, to Texas for refining and shipment to world markets. Leading climate scientists tell us that the pipeline's impact on the climate would be devastating.

Even though Warner had made it into Clementine's, he hadn't escaped me yet. I headed down into the restaurant basement where his session with businesspeople was to be held. I arrived in time to see him interviewed by local TV reporters. And I was disturbed by what I heard.  

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