WASHINGTON, DC — As almost the entire environmental community condemned the final State Department report on the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline released this morning, another 54 Americans were arrested at the White House today to push President Obama to stand up to Big Oil and deny the pipeline the permit necessary for construction.
“The U.S. State Department’s final report on the Keystone XL today is an insult to anyone who expects government to work for the interests of the American people,” said the Sierra Club in a press release this morning. “The Sierra Club and our 1.4 million members and supporters are looking to President Obama for bold action and we urge him to reject this abomination.”
NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen will join a large delegation of interfaith leaders for next Monday’s sit-in. Actor and natural gas fracking activist Mark Ruffalo will join Tuesday’s demonstration before a large contingent of former youth organizers for Obama risk arrest Wednesday morning.
Environmental author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests, said that the release of the State Department EIS would not dampen the spirits of the 2,000 Americans who will participate in the Tar Sands Action.
“We knew from past experience that State might do something like this, which is why we’ve always said it’s going to be Obama’s call,” said McKibben. “They can’t get the climate science right, but maybe they can get the politics right.”
Organizers of the protest are keeping a close eye on the hurricane currently bearing down on the Eastern seaboard. As of Friday afternoon, the sit-in was expected to continue on Saturday morning, when President Obama is expected to return to the White House. Organizers have already called off Sunday morning’s protest out of respect for the clean-up and public safety duties that will stretch Park Police thin.
The hurricane provides an important backdrop for the protests, however, said McKibben. Warmer ocean temperatures due to global warming help sustain a hurricane’s intensity and lead to heavier rain-falls, according to climate scientists.
“Irene will be a distraction in the short run from our efforts, but in the long run it underlines what the fight is all about,” said McKibben. “If the president goes for business as usual, we’re going to get planet weird.”