Arrests continue at White House oil pipeline protest

U.S. Park Police arrested another 45 environmentalists near the White House Sunday, the second day of a two-week demonstration urging President Obama to block a proposed pipeline that would greatly expand imports from Canada’s oil sands projects.

Police say 110 people over two days have been peacefully arrested after engaging in civil disobedience in front of the fence north of the White House.

The activists want President Obama to reject TransCanada’s proposed $7 billion, 1,700-mile pipeline to bring up to 900,000 barrels per day from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

The project is currently under State Department review and the administration plans to make a final decision by the end of the year.

Proponents of the project – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute – say it will enhance energy security by increasing supplies from a friendly neighbor, creating scores of jobs in the process.

But environmentalists oppose the massive oil sands projects due to their high greenhouse gas emissions and destruction of boreal forests, and say the pipeline could suffer from spills that jeopardize U.S. water supplies.

Roughly a dozen of the 65 people arrested Saturday have been released, according to police and protest organizers.

Activists who remain in jail include founder Bill McKibben, who is a lead organizer of the demonstrations, and Gus Speth, who co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Carter, according to organizers of the Tar Sands Action protest.

They are being held at Metropolitan Police Department’s central cell block ahead of court appearances Monday, according to Sgt. David Schlosser of the U.S. Park Police.