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Why Jill Stein went to the front line of climate crisis

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was handcuffed and arrested this morning after bringing food and supplies to a coalition of climate justice activists, known as the “Tar Sands Blockade,” who are attempting to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas.  She is currently at Wood County Jail awaiting processing.

“Everyone needs to step up resistance to climate-killing emissions,” said Stein, who was willing to risk arrest in order to show solidarity for this blockade.  “Romney and Obama are only talking about the symptoms of climate change in terms of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy; the blockaders are addressing the cause.” 

Jill Stein was joined by seven others, including three blockaders and four members of the press.   They were delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, canned proteins, trail mix, and Halloween candy. They were not warned of imminent arrests; and the arresting officers did not self-identify as police. 

Prior to running for office, Jill Stein, a 62-year old physician and mother of two, had never been arrested. 

"Climate change means more frequent severe storms that lead to massive flooding and destruction,” said Stein, speaking at the ongoing protests in Texas against the proposed Keystone XL natural gas project. “We will see more destructive storms than Sandy in the years to come. We have to stop spending our tax dollars to build homes in low-lying coastal areas and flood plains. The billions spent rebuilding the NYC subway system must reflect that sea levels will continue to rise.”  Stein noted that the flooding of the NYC subway system had been predicted in several recent climate change reports prepared for the state government. 

Stein has been the only national presidential candidate who has made dealing with climate change a major focus. She supports reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm. The Green New Deal, the centerpiece of her campaign, includes investing hundreds of billions of dollars to transition to a carbon neutral economy, paid for through cuts to the military budget, elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels and nukes, and higher taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street.

"We can't just listen to climate change scientists for a few days after a disaster occurs, before politicians go back to business as usual. America has been both the major contributor to climate change and the major denier of the need for action. Obama and Romney's push to develop more domestic fossil fuels will accelerate our rush down the path of destruction while increasing the profits of the oil, coal and gas companies," added Cheri Honkala, the Green Vice-Presidential candidate.

The world already has five times as much oil, coal and gas available as climate scientists say the atmosphere can tolerate.  So rather than drill for more fossil fuels, we must keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away safely underground to avoid a climate disaster.

While recognizing that climate change is already underway, Stein has laid out a number of major steps that should be taken to slow it down. Stein said that the government must also begin investing in how to mitigate its impacts.

"A major reason why our political and business leaders have failed to take action on climate change is because too many of them believe that it will be cheaper to deal with the consequences of climate change than to reduce it. The economic and human costs from Hurricane Sandy shows this to be the wrong calculation," said Stein.

A recent report commissioned by 20 nations found that 400,000 people are already being killed annually by climate change, while costing the world economy more than $1.2 trillion a year. (http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf)

To read more about why activists are opposing the Keystone XL pipeline visit: http://tarsandsblockade.org/about-2/why-oppose-kxl/

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