Maude Barlow joined more than 12,000 peaceful demonstrators from across North America today, to surround the White House in a shout out for climate justice. The following is her address at the action.

Hello water warriors! I say water warriors because, although there are many reasons to oppose Keystone, none is more pressing than the destruction of water that takes place in tar sands mining and refining.

Tar sands oil uses and destroys massive amounts of water. In Northern Alberta, the used water is held in giant tailings ponds so poisoned that birds landing on them die.

Now they want to ship this dirty oil by pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the most important water sources in the United States and already in deep distress from overuse. Talk about jobs! A serious spill over this aquifer will cost jobs and livelihoods of millions of Americans who produce food from it.

Remember, we are living in a world running out of clean water. A recent report says that by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent!

But Keystone is not the only pipeline we should be opposing. The Alberta Clipper is already carrying tar sands crude to what could be 17 refineries on the American side of the Great Lakes, putting that precious and endangered watershed under threat.

And now they are moving on Trailbreaker, another pipeline that would carry tar sands oil to New England for refining.

This is a case of the energy industry setting energy policy for all of North America. Once trillions of dollars have been spent on these pipelines, production in the tar sands will skyrocket in order to keep them full and profitable.

I want to say to you here today that the Canadian government does not speak for Canadians. Prime Minister Harper has said the decision President Obama has to make is a “no brainer” and the Canadian Ambassador to the US, Gary Doer, has become the chief salesman for the energy industry.

But polls tell us Canadians want to move away from a fossil fuel future and stand with the millions of Americans for a just transition to a sustainable energy future.

So we thank you for your resistance to Keystone and pledge to build a cross border alliance of Canadians and Americans for climate justice. We can and will win this fight!


Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is also an executive member of the San Francisco–based...