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Piping up about a pipeline

Here we are, Sharie and I, new Oregonians retired from Texas to the beauty and friendliness of the Rogue Valley, participating in a public demonstration against, of all things, a pipeline.

Texas's economy is built on oil and gas, and there are more pipelines in Texas than you can shake a stick at, as we used to say.

We gather at 6 p.m. at Vogel Plaza. It is a good group of people, people you would be pleased to spend time with, and most of them more knowledgeable about climate change than me. Southern Oregon Climate Action Now or "SOCAN" is coordinating this "vigil," as we call our demonstration. We unfurl the SOCAN banner and hold up our signs to the last of rush hour traffic driving south on Central Avenue and west on Main Street.

"Stop KXL."

"President Obama Reject Keystone."

Response is positive. We feel that two or three short honks show support and one long blat would be negative, and there are plenty of "honk-honks," and no long "blats."

Our group reminds me of good friends and neighbors in Houston. We demonstrated there hoping to deter developers from building a monstrosity in the historic district in which we all lived.

This particular pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels per day of corrosive, sulphuric, hard-to-refine tar sand oil from Canada 2,000 miles across the American heartland to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf coast. You won't find a farmer in Texas who would willingly accept a pipeline across his farm. Farmers in Nebraska don't want this pipeline either. Pipelines don't explode very often, but every farmer can remember each explosion.

TransCanada Oil could transport this corrosive tar sand oil to the Canadian west coast, but western Canadians don't want this project, so TransCanada looks to the U.S.

The Keystone XL pipeline would be 1,500 miles from Vogel Plaza, but this is a global issue. This project would use too much energy and would produce substantial greenhouse gases that would add to global warming.

There is not much I can do about global climate change, but I can at least do this.

A petroleum engineer at Vogel Plaza says that the whole Keystone project is ridiculous. I ask him for details so I will have ammunition in discussion with my friend Chuck, who favors the Keystone project. You are toast, Chuck.

Kathy and Alan make short speeches, and Alan leads us in a chant: "President Obama just say no to Keystone," then we mingle awhile and go home.

We did not deter that developer in Houston, but the monstrosity that got built, our demonstration and other demonstrations and initiatives led Houston to adopt a stronger historic preservation ordinance which should prevent future monstrosities in all of Houston's historic districts.

I don't suppose our little demonstration at Vogel Plaza will in itself have much impact on whether the Keystone XL pipeline gets built, but if enough people speak up, things will change.

David Beale lives in Medford.