As people across the country protest the Keystone XL pipeline today, a 27-year-old Glendora High School alumnus is walking more than 2,000 miles to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of the transcontinental oil pipeline system and the tar sands that pipeline is proposed to transport.
Seth Harris, who graduated from Glendora High School in 2004, is on what he calls a peace pilgrimage, walking along the pipeline route from Houston, Texas to Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to protest the use of fossil fuels as an energy source.
“I began the pilgrimage because I couldn't keep living life with my head in the sand so to speak,” said Harris. “People need to know about this because the Canadian boreal forest is being destroyed to get the tar sands and people and communities are getting sick from the pollution of extracting this fossil fuel.”
Harris, who graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in International Economics, believes that there can be serious implications for climate change if all the available tar sands are burned and their carbon emissions are released in the atmosphere.
The controversy surrounding the construction of the Keystone XL will be the focus Saturday, Sept. 21 for the nationwide protest "Draw the Line.”
Harris began his journey Sept. 3 when his mother, Glendora resident and former Village Book Shop owner Deborah Gould, dropped him off in Houston, Texas. Since then, Harris has endured the heat and a serious case of shin splints to get his message across and inspire others to be more informed about dangers to the environment. With a few belongings, Harris has camped out in campsites, under bridges or in forests by the side of the highway. On more comfortable days, he will stay in motels or at the homes of pipeline activists along the way.
“Dropping him off in the middle of nowhere in Texas in 100-degree heat with just his backpack and walking sticks was one of the most difficult things I had to do as a mother,” said Gould. “I am proud of him for standing up for what he believes. Now, it’s pulled me back to being more aware of things and what’s going on.”
Harris hopes to complete his pilgrimage in 80 to 90 days.
Follow Harris’ journey on his blog at pipelinepilgrimage.wordpress.com or on his Facebook page.