An Open Letter to Dem. Senator Mary Landrieu

Dear Senator Landrieu,

Last week, you motioned to place the Keystone XL into vote in order to vote for the Pipeline on record before your run-off election. When you said, “The public has clearly spoken. The [Keystone XL Pipeline] bill has to be approved today,”  I couldn’t help but wonder how we heard such disparate messages.

In 1995, I heard Atiq Rahman, of the Bagladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, warn “If climate change makes our country uninhabitable, we will march with our wet feet into your living rooms’”

Ten years later, in 2005, I heard the cries of your Louisiana communities who were neither protected in anticipation nor supported with respect, care, or reciprocity in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – a storm whose echoes we can and will hear if we keep driving climate change with measures such as the Keystone Pipeline.

I’ve heard the pleas of small island countries for us to stand in solidarity and reduce our emissions for decades. Since 2009 I’ve heard vulnerable countries, who are not responsible for climate change but bear the risk of being erased, planning carbon neutral or low-carbon futures in hopes that others will follow.

In 2012, I heard Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the Least Developed Countries group at the UN climate change negotiations, request, “as this discussion [on climate change] continues in the world’s most developed countries, remember those who live in its poorest regions. Remember that as a result of climate change, this kind of fatal weather event has become commonplace for us while we lack the infrastructure and resources to adequately protect our citizens.” in his Open Letter to President Obama.

In September of this year, I heard 400,000 public voices demanding climate justice and action through the streets of New York City.

In October and November, I heard the footsteps of Philippines delegate Yeb Sano as he marched 1,000 km in areas devastated from Typhoon Yolanda – each footstep echoing in solidarity with the millions around the world at risk from climate change.

The night before you moved this vote into motion, I heard our president Obama agree with China that we must take joint action to reduce our emissions that drive climate change.

When you said you heard the public’s clear demands in the wake of the early November elections– I heard a broken record player of U.S. history, where every president we have elected since World War II, regardless of party or popularity among the public, lost its senate’s majority status in the midterm of their second elected term. I heard a loss of faith and forgotten politics. I heard most of the public doesn’t even agree with the Republican agenda (Huffington Post).

What I did not hear was a cry for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

What I did not hear in that  ‘public statement,’ were the voices of thousands of youth and our future children, whose futures you will influence tonight.

We did not — and we still do not– call for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Before you spoke to the senate on behalf of the public, did you let the public know that over 90% of scientists agree that climate change is human-driven and can cause irreversible changes? Did you tell them about the floods in India this year, the reoccurring droughts in the U.S. southwest? Did you remind your own Louisiana community about how that devastating one in a 100 years storm may become a one in a 3 years storm? Did you tell them that the Keystone XL Pipeline will only bring 35 long-term jobs, while it strews ecological and health hazards along its 1,179 mile path? (EcoWatch)

I ask all those who are voting today to truly vote for your communities, your neighbors, and all those to come.  We cannot see the pipeline as removed from climate change, when every ton of carbon released is a bullet to us all.  We need to start seeing votes on bills that drive climate change as votes concerning public health, workers rights, the environment, our livelihood, and more. Vote no to the Keystone XL pipeline in international solidarity with all those around the world who will taste and bear the burdens of your decision.

In closing, I thank you for pushing this vote into motion before our senate grows with individuals who deny climate change, and in doing so place our health and earth at risk (or should I say, pushes those communities already at the margins of structural violence at even greater risk). Please, dear Senator, do not speak on behalf of the public when you forget history and do not listen to all of us.

In international solidarity,

Cecilia Pineda
U.S Citizen

Photo Credit: Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
Photo Credit: Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

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