Student Activist Stands Up Against Keystone XL

A student activist stands in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Liz Starke/NWF)
College Sophomore Mariah Urueta and 53 other students travelled all the way from Central Michigan University to Washington, D.C. last weekend to pressure President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

They spent over 20 hours traveling by bus—through the night—in order to join with over 3,000 activists marching from Freedom Plaza to the White House on Sunday to speak out against the tar sands oil pipeline.

“The march itself was really exciting,” said Mariah, who was instrumental in getting the bus to D.C. for the day of action, “All 50 of us were chanting really loudly and trying to get everyone around us pumped up.”

Giving Students a Voice

The issue is one the Student Environmental Alliance, of which Mariah is an active member, has been working on for the past year. In addition to attending the rally, the student group has created photo and video petitions, making sure President Obama knows that stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is important to the nation’s young people.

Mariah, an Environmental Studies major, began taking classes on the subject in high school. “Learning about Keystone XL has perpetuated that interest and made me want to fight for climate justice,” she says.

Students gather under a parachute (thanks to Vinnie Roncelli) in Freedom Plaza (Photo: Liz Starke/NWF)
For her, speaking out against the pipeline and rallying others to do the same is “really important because TransCanada [the company proposing Keystone XL] is abusing the system.”

Sending a Colorful Message

For many of the Central Michigan University students, it was their first experience at a rally, and they were determined to make their presence known.

At the rally, Mariah and the other students spread out under a brightly colored parachute on which they had painted the words “Michigan against KXL” and “End Climate Silence” so that people in the buildings along Freedom Plaza would get their message. “We wanted to make a big statement since we were coming all the way from Michigan.”


Take ActionCouldn’t make it to the rally? You can still stand up against tar sands! Tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.