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About 40,000 people march toward the National Mall in Washington on Sunday, urging President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal, which would send tar sand oil in Canada to be refined thousands of miles away on the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Maureen Jackson

Originally published: 2013-02-19 21:23:33
Last modified: 2013-02-20 00:01:37

Boone residents join climate rally

by Anna Oakes

More than 200 people from the Boone area were among the estimated 40,000 who convened in Washington, D.C., Sunday for the "Forward on Climate" rally.

The rally, organized by and the Sierra Club, called on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and put limits on carbon pollution from the nation's power plants. called it the "largest climate rally in U.S. history." was founded by Bill McKibben as "a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis." Last year, a group of concerned citizens in the Boone area formed the Boone Climate Movement, later organizing as 350 Boone as a local affiliate of the movement.

350 Boone members Dave Harman, Harvard Ayers and Sarah Figlow helped organize buses and vans to transport locals and Appalachian State University students to the rally.

"We know it was at least 200. We're real proud of that," Harman said. "It was a fabulous experience in difficult conditions - which made it all the more rewarding."

In addition to a 55-passenger charter bus and eight or nine vans, a number of people from the area traveled separately to the event, Harman said. The group met around 4 a.m. Sunday to depart in snowy, whiteout weather conditions.

The group arrived at the Washington Monument, where they heard speeches from McKibben, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and others.

"We heard very motivating, very passionate pleas to try to convince this president that this Keystone pipeline is a continuation of the old fossil fuel industry," Harman said. "We have to turn to renewables. The good news is the technology exists today."

The rally then proceeded down 17th Street to the White House.

"We spent the better part of three hours or so there," Harman said. "I'm real proud of the students. (For) many of them, it was their first experience at being an activist."

Harman noted that the Sierra Club helped subsidize the costs of travel for rally attendees. In the first act of civil disobedience in the Sierra Club's 120-year history, he noted, Brune and others at the demonstration were arrested by police.

"We think now that this movement really has found its mojo," he said. "We're going to do what it takes to get the attention of this president and his Congress. They haven't heard the last of us."