A 1,700 mile bike ride to protest the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline has all but consumed Tom Weis since he set forth on his journey from the United States - Canadian boarder in Montana in mid-October of this year to follow the route of the purposed pipeline until he reaches Houston, TX towards the end of Christmas.
Weis and his cohort, Ron Seifert, stopped in Antlers on Monday, December 5, 2011 to continue to spread the word about the wrong doings they feel are taking place at the hands of Big Oil. Although the weather wasn’t favorable, both men were in a chipper mood as they shared their points of view.
Weis’s had chosen to ride a route that closely follows the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline route that would connect parts of Canada to Port Arthur, TX. The proposed path would travel through an ecologically sensitive area that spreads over part of the Ogallala Aquifer and has been a lightning rod for opposition throughout the breadbasket of the Nation.
During their travels, Weis and Seifert have seen an outcry from environmentalists and landowners who are completely opposed to the proposed pipeline to transfer the Tar Sands across the breadbasket of the Nation into Port Arthur, where most of it will be exported to other countries.
Weis, of Boulder, CO., has made it his mission to keep informing American citizens of the truth about what this extension would mean when they fail to protect our nation’s heartlands.
When Weis arrived in Antlers he was in his "rocket trike," a reclined tricycle with a bright yellow, submarine-shaped protective shell and small solar panels to power his lights and iPhone. So far, Weis said, the response has been very supportive, especially among the Native American communities along the way. Most of the people he meets don't know enough about the project, he said, but once he fills them in on the tar sands and the potential risk to groundwater, they often come to oppose it.
“We don’t need to be building a tar sands pipeline for a foreign corporation,” he said. “They reap the, however small and un-practical, benefits and our nation will have all the risks and devastation of thousands of miles of natural wildlife and foliage.”
Part of what Weis is doing is talking to people along his trip, during which he covers 60 to 80 miles a day. During his trip, he spends about one-third of his nights in tents, one-third in motels and one-third with friends he meets along the way.
“I am meeting with ranchers, landowners, farmers along the pipeline route,” he said.
He is putting videos of those conversations on YouTube and updates his website and facebook account regularly.
“Ranchers and farmers are really deeply dismayed by how they have been treated and disrespected by TransCanada,” he said. “They are making a lot of people really angry.”
One concern he has is the oil from the tar sands that will be flowing through the pipeline, as well as the fact he said once refined, this oil will be shipped overseas.
“There’s nothing about it in America’s interest,” Weis said.
Instead of building the pipeline, he said America needs to be launching its own green energy industrial revolution, which he believes would put people back to work.
“We should use oil for the highest purpose rather than to propel vehicles when there are alternatives,” he said. “The government is subsidizing the wrong industries.”
“My feeling is we need a green energy moon shot,” he said. “We have the technology; we have the know how – we need to ramp it up as a nation, “ said Weis. “I want to plant seeds of resistance from Canada to Texas. I am hoping to galvanize enough Americans to stand up and say no.”
He wants to get more Americans involved than just those who live along the route of the pipeline because if this is approved it will affect the entire Nation. And when it has a leak or spill, and it is a when not an if, our Nation's drinking and irrigation water will be contaminated along with the land.
"We've got to fight this. We've got to put Obama on the line. We need to put heat on President Obama now and demand an answer,” he said. “The president’s job is to protect America. Let’s block this tar sands pipeline and get on with leading the world with a green industrial revolution.”
His ride, called the “Keystone XL Tour of Resistance,” is sponsored by All Earth Renewable, All Sun Trackers and EcoWatch. He blogs everyday on his Web site RideforRenewables.com. where there is also an online petition people can sign.