UCC Rev. Mari Castellanos - Testimony on Keystone XL Pipeline

October 7, 2011 at 9:06am

As part of the review and analysis of the national interest of the proposed Keystone XL Project, the U.S. Department of State held a public comment meeting today in Washington, DC to solicit comments on the subject. Rev. Mari Castellanos was invited to testify along with other faith leaders. These are her comments.



Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing. My name is Mari Castellanos and I am a Christian minister in the United Church of Christ. I come not only as a clergy person, but as a former scientist, a birdwatcher, and someone who passionately loves God’s blessed creation. I also come on behalf of many children whom I passionately love. I want them to enjoy nature and all of the created order as I have, in all the glory and beauty that God made it.


In a recent letter to President Obama, 9 Nobel Peace Laureates wrote, and I quote “The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership -- and working together -- the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal.” If the President consents to the Keystone pipeline he will break not only his promise, but the hearts of millions of people as well. Perhaps the Secretary will be so kind as to protect the President from such a fate by denying the permit herself.


When I studied moral theology, or Christian ethics, we were taught to look at issues through several criteria and different angles.  I can assure you that this issue fails at every angle and under every criterion. How can destroying the boreal forest, the lungs of the North America, for the sake of profit be ethical? How can we justify pushing all the birds that nest in that forest to extinction, which will surely happen because most of them are already threatened? Or endangering the source of drinking water for millions of people?


Or endorsing an extraction process that causes high levels of greenhouse gas pollution and leaves behind enormous deposits of toxic waste, and is all permeated by the stench of corporate greed?


This is not moral, this is not ethical, this is not who we are.


As a nation we like to think we are high moral ground people. Approving this pipeline will surely question our perception of ourselves.


Over this year’s 4th of July weekend a twelve inch Exxon Mobile pipeline broke at the bottom of the Yellowstone River spilling crude that covered more than ten miles of the famed waterway. What was an oil pipeline doing beneath the Yellowstone River? I frantically asked when I found out?


I was surprised to learn that there are an estimated 35,000 river, stream and lake crossings within our country's half-million-mile network of natural gas and hazardous liquid transmission pipelines.


If approved by the President, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will cross water bodies 1,904 separate times, including crossings in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.


It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.


 Please, for the sake of our children and their children, for our own sake, don’t allow this to happen.


Thank you very much.


Read more about actions against the pipeline by other UCC members and take action yourself!