Scores of protesters waving signs and chanting “yes we can”, were arrested outside the White House Monday as they called on the American President to block approval of the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
From Monday night on, 162 people were arrested, released and detained. Organizers said that more than 2,000 volunteers have signed up to participate in the sit-ins in shifts beginning over the weekend and are slated to run through Sep. 3.
Vexed by the president’s inability to get comprehensive energy and climate legislation through Congress, climate activists are pressuring Obama to take action on the proposed $7 billion pipeline project by refusing to sign-off on a permit for its construction.
If it gets approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will pump 700,000 barrels of heavy crude per day from Canada’s tar sands to refineries along the United States, Gulf Coast.
The White House has emphasized the decision to issue the permit rests with the State Department that is expected to finish its review of the pipeline by the end of this year.
McKibben says that the protesters “spent a lot of time talking about how one of the last times many of us had been sleeping on the floor was when we’d been out campaigning for Obama and how much we hoped that he would do something to remind us why we were so enthusiastic…
This time [Obama] has a clear shot to do it; we’ll see…The people who’ve carried this fight for three years are indigenous people on both sides of the border who have a huge stake in it because it’s on their land, and farmers and ranchers from places like Nebraska…Johnny-come-latelys…It wasn’t until I sat down and read Jim Hansen’s analysis of how much carbon was in those things that I understood that this was not just a national issue, it’s a global issue of the first order.”