Aug 20 Press Release

Aug 20, 2011

70 People Arrested at White House to Stop Massive Oil Pipeline

First wave of over 2,000 people expected to risk arrest over two week protest

WASHINGTON, DC — 70 people arrested from across the country were arrested today at the White House for taking part in a sit-in to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for a massive new oil pipeline.

Those arrested included leading environmentalist Bill McKibben, former White House official and Yale dean Gus Speth, and gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi. Over 2,000 more people are expected to take part in similar sit-ins at the White House every day for the next two weeks. The Park Police arrested the first protestor, a young woman from Wasilla, Alaska, at 11:30 AM this morning and were still arresting people one-by-one at 12:30 AM. (1)

In what has quickly emerged as President’s biggest environmental test before the 2012 election, the Obama Administration must decide if it will grant a permit to a Canadian company, TransCanada, to allow it to build the Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile long pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, down along the spine of the U.S. to the Gulf Coast.

“It’s not the easiest thing on earth for law-abiding folk to come risk arrest. But this pipeline has emerged as the single clear test of the president’s willingness to fight for the environment,” said environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests and was arrested this morning. “So I wore my Obama ’08 button, and I carry a great deal of hope in my heart that we will see that old Obama emerge.”

If built, the pipeline could bring as much as 900,000 barrels per day through the U.S., and put fresh water, clean air and the climate at risk. The world’s most famous climatologist, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, wrote that if the pipeline is built and the tar sands are fully developed, it is essentially “game over” for the climate.(2)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) and celebrities Mark Ruffalo, Thom Yorke, Danny Glover, and Josh Fox and have endorsed the protest. Twenty of the nation’s top scientists also wrote a letter urging President Obama to stop the pipeline. (3)

Over the next two weeks the sit-ins will feature a diverse coalition of Americans, including a large contingent of landowners and ranchers along the pipeline route.

“Nebraskans are counting on President Obama to do the right thing,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska, who was at the White House to encourage protesters on Saturday. “Back home we are fighting to protect our land and water. We decided to bring that fight to the President’s doorstep because our families’ legacies, those that homesteaded the very land now threatened by a foreign oil company, are too important for us sit on the sidelines. We are acting on our values and expect our President to act as well.”

Photos and video from the protest are available at tarsandsaction,org/press.


1. More information at tarsandsaction,org


3. Videos from Sen.Sanders and Mark Ruffalo are available at

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