by Jamie Henn of 350.org
BOSTON — Over 60 people dressed in referee outfits protested outside Sen. Scott Brown’s district office in Boston this afternoon to “blow the whistle” on the unseemly reality that Sen. Brown has taken over $1.9 million from fossil fuel interests since being elected and now supports moves in Congress to revive the Keystone XL pipeline, expand offshore drilling, gut the Clean Air Act, and to put taxpayer money towards subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.
The action is part of an evolving strategy on the part of pipeline protesters, who are looking at new ways to take the pipeline fight off of Capitol Hill and back into districts across the country.
This week, climate action campaign 350.org put out a call for people across the country to organize their own group of referees to throw conflict-of-interest penalties at members of Congress who take money from the fossil fuel industry and support the pipeline. Dozens of rallies are now in the works. Next up on the list are protests in Nebraska, California, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.
“This fight has become very much inside the halls of Congress, but people across the country need to have their say, too,” said 350.org Campaign Director, Phil Aroneanu. “Keystone XL is the type of extreme energy project that could be showing up in everyone’s back-yard if we don’t get off of fossil fuels now.”
In Boston, 350.org volunteers teamed up with local groups and the city’s Occupy movement to call out Sen. Brown on his dirty energy money connections.
“If the head referee at the Super Bowl had taken $1.9 million from the New York Giants, the people of Boston would have taken to the streets in protest. This is no different,” said Occupy Boston member Shoshana Blank, who wire a referee outfit this afternoon. “Scott Brown cannot objectively vote on the Keystone XL pipeline when the fossil fuel industry has paid him off.”
350.org is just three years old, but has quickly grown to one of the largest grassroots environmental networks in the country, with hundreds of thousands of members spanning all 50 states. The group’s founder, Bill McKibben, who led the initial Keystone XL sit-ins and protests at the White House last year, explained that the pipeline has become a key way to test the commitment of politicians to environmental priorities.
“Over the last six months, this has emerged as the most important environmental issue of Obama’s first term,” said McKibben. “It’s the issue on which most normal Americans will judge our politicians backbone in standing up to fossil fuel interests.”