Medium Protest Over XL Pipeline

Obama admin under pipeline pressure

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• November 19, 2012 1:19 pm


Between 1,000 and 1,500 protesters streamed past the White House Sunday to demand President Barack Obama reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, the latest in a series of vocal demonstrations against the project.

"Hey Obama, we don’t want no climate drama," the protesters chanted as they hoisted an inflatable mock pipeline above their heads in front of the executive mansion.

The pipeline project would stretch across eight states, running from the Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

"This is the first fight in a long time that got the environmentalists out in the street and we’re gonna stay there," author Bill McKibben told the crowd at a post-march rally.

Environmentalists say the pipeline would be a "game over" moment in their fight against climate change should it be approved.

Jarret Schlaff, who was wearing a Captain Planet costume, said he quit his job in July to organize full-time because the Earth is facing an existential threat.

"There will be no jobs if we continue the path we’re on," he said.

Others relied on less traditional methods to affect change.

"I’m trying to get the vibrations of power and harmony inside myself to project outward, harnessing the power of the elements," said a protester who identified himself only as "Golden Owl Man" as he stared at the White House through the fence and softly chanted.

Sunday’s protest was part of a nation-wide tour organized by McKibben’s website. It was the latest action in the environmental coalition’s 18-month-long crusade to kill the pipeline project: activists held sit-ins for 14 days outside the White House last August, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests.

Activists appeared to score an early victory when the Obama administration put the pipeline on hold in January for more environmental reviews.

Although the original path of the pipeline has been altered to avoid several sensitive ecosystems, activists say the amount of carbon the project would put into the atmosphere would still be devastating.

Proponents of the pipeline say it will bring tens of thousands of jobs to America and increase its energy independence.

A group of 9 Republican and 9 Democratic Senators led by Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.) sent a letter to Obama Friday urging him to approve the pipeline project.

"This is about more energy, job creation, economic activity, generating taxes, national security—all of the above," Hoeven told "That’s why the president needs to approve it."

Moody’s analysts have predicted the administration will approve the project, but the outcome is far from certain.

Industry insiders see the decision as bellwether for how the president will approach energy in his second term.

"I think the Keystone XL Pipeline will be the first test of whether or not the president was serious during his campaign about his ‘all of the above’ strategy," said Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, at a panel discussion hosted by Politico last Thursday.

Nebraska is expected to approve the new pipeline route by the end of the year. The State Department is also expected to issue a decision on the pipeline sometime in the first quarter of 2013 now that Obama’s election has been secured.