Green groups to risk arrest in White House protest against Keystone XL

Green activists are planning to engage in civil disobedience Wednesday at the White House in hopes of pressuring President Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Fifty people will risk arrest near the East Gate of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Among those involved are climate activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, actress Daryl Hannah, civil-rights leader Julian Bond and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

{mosads}“The president can’t work miracles by himself. An obstructionist Congress stands in the way of progress and innovation. But President Obama has the executive authority and the mandate from the American people to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline right now,” the participants said in a Wednesday statement.

Greens are drawing a red line at the looming Keystone decision. The administration has the final say on the pipeline, which is currently under review at the State Department, because it crosses national boundaries.

The demonstration marks the first time in its 120-year history that Sierra Club will participate in civil disobedience, underscoring the emphasis the environmental community is placing on the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.

Wednesday will be the second time 350.org employs the protest tactic for Keystone at the White House. McKibben and more than 1,253 others were arrested in August 2011 in a similar event.

While green groups have amplified their messaging on Keystone, the pipeline’s supporters are doing the same.

In recent weeks, groups of mostly Republican lawmakers have sent letters to Obama and prodded the president through social media and TV interviews on the subject.

They have cast the issue as a decision on jobs, as a majority of legislators in both the House and Senate have urged Keystone’s approve because of its economic potential.

But environmentalists say approving Keystone would clash with Obama’s public comments on the need to combat climate change.

Some demonstrators Wednesday will hoist placards with quotes from Obama regarding his commitment to climate change in an attempt to push the president “beyond words to deeds,” Daniel Kessler, a spokesman with 350.org, told The Hill.

McKibben added through Twitter Wednesday that the civil disobedience is “not protesting Obama, but pushing him, as he’s asked, to live up to his words.”

The demonstration is one part of a campaign by the environmental community aimed at pressing Obama to use executive authority to combat climate change, as odds of getting climate legislation through Congress are slim.

Sierra Club and 350.org will also lead a rally Sunday in Washington, D.C., that will focus more broadly on actions Obama can take on climate.

Topping those groups’ wish list are nixing Keystone and setting emissions standards for existing power plants.

Obama exercised such authority on a handful of occasions during his first term, much to the delight of environmentalists.

The president ushered in more stringent vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, proposed emissions rules that effectively halt construction of new coal-fired power plants and tightened standards on harmful air pollutants known as fine particulate matter, or soot.

Those measures have invited industry and GOP backlash, which claim the regulations would dampen an economic recovery.


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