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They traveled far to make a statement

River Falls resident Katie Chaffee stands in front of the White House during the "Forward on Climate" rally in Washington, D.C., Feb. 16-17. <i>Submitted photos</i>1 / 2
Going to Washington, D.C. to protest the Keystone XL pipeline was two mother-daughter pairs: Feom left, Rainbow Barry, Jill Schneider, Katie Chaffee and Anna Zalusky.2 / 2

On the weekend of Feb. 16-17 two mother-daughter duos traveled to Washington, D.C. to have their voices heard. Their message: Say no to the Keystone XL, an oil pipeline that's proposed to connect lines from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

After attending a speech by Bill McKibben called "Do the Math" at the University of Minnesota, Katie Chaffee; her daughter, Anna Zalusky; Jill Schneider; and Rainbow Barry -- Schneider's daughter -- felt the call to join the 35,000-40,000 protestors descending on the nation's capital to bring attention to climate change in the form of a rally called "Forward on Climate".

According to Chaffee "Do the Math" has a simple message -- if we produce too much carbon dioxide the Earth's temperature will continue to rise.

Chaffee said the "... oil that the XL pipeline will turn loose in the atmosphere is more than enough to do us in."

Zalusky said that the oil pipe project was picked because it's something President Obama act on.

Chaffee also pointed out the tangibility of the project as something that made it ideal to represent the protestors' climate changing concerns.

The same pipeline was considered a year ago, but Obama delayed the decision so that more studies could be done.

So far Obama has been tight lipped about whether he will approve the pipeline this time around.

Chaffee mentioned that while the protestors were in front of the White House, Obama was in Florida golfing with oil representatives.

After leaving Minneapolis at 2 p.m. on Feb. 16, the group, totaling about 200, traveled on a small bus through the night and arrived in D.C. at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 17.

They then proceeded to the rally, which included speakers from noon-4 p.m. as well as a march to the White House.

With wind chills reaching zero, the group found warmth in a building lobby while waiting to board the bus on Sunday evening. They then travelled through the night back to the Midwest.

While Schneider found the rally very inspiring, she was disappointed that there was not a bigger crowd, but cited the cold and wind as a possible reason.

She noted the varied crowd -- young, old, young parents with children.

Zalusky said about her experience at the rally, "It was neat to see all the diversity, lots of college kids."

Chaffee commented: "It was exciting for Jill and I to be with our daughters -- we are so proud of them."

According to Chaffee and Zalusky, another rally is planned around Earth Day, April 22.

See the full article in the Feb. 28 print edition of the Journal.

Jillian Dexheimer
Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.
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