Over 10,000 Protesters Circle White House — Why?


keystone xl tar sands pipeline protesters activists white house

The White House, and the U.S., and the world, saw the largest Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline protest to date yesterday. Over 10,000 people (over 12,000 by some estimates) came out in opposition to the pipeline. The protesters were largely Obama supporters and came out decked in Obama gear to show him that they support him, but that they expect him to call an end to Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline plans in the U.S.

Many protesters had witty signs or signs with quotes from Obama on how we need to end our oil addiction, how we need to be the generation to get off oil, how we need to be the generation to tackle climate change, to “stop the sees from rising” (as Obama once said he’d do). Clearly, the climate activists are trying to hold Obama to his word.

For more pictures of this protest, see: Occupy the White House: Tar Sands Activists Encircle White House (PICTURES)

As reported yesterday, the protesters formed a human chain around the White House and some have reported it was 3 people deep. Some of the notable participants, other than the thousands upon thousands of common citizen activists and environmentalists, included world-leading climate scientist James Hansen, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Naomi Klein, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner John Adams (awarded the honor this year by Obama), actor Mark Ruffalo.

350.org, Tar Sands Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and many others organized the day. It seems all organizations were suprised at exactly how many people came out.

Over 1,000 activists, many of whom were probably present at the White House yesterday, actually got arrested (in succession, day after day, for weeks) earlier this year in opposition to the pipeline.

Why Circle the White House? Why Oppose the Tar Sands Pipeline?

We’ve been writing about the hazards of the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline for a long time now, but this action is bringing more eyes to the topic than perhaps ever before (and that might include your eyes). So, here’s a run-down of why the pipeline is being opposed by thousands, or actually millions, of people:

  1. The pipeline would come from Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. and would be piping oil from tar sands (aka oil sands) that are several times more polluting than normal oil.
  2. World-leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen has said the pipeline would be “game over” for the climate.
  3. Leading environmental activist and award-winning journalist Bill McKibben has said it is “the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”
  4. One of the climatologists at RealClimate has agreed with McKibben’s take on the matter, and has done “the arithmetic” over on RealClimate for us — check it out if you’re interested in the details.
  5. Aside from the climate, oil leak risks across the route of the pipeline (which goes from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries at the Gulf of Mexico in the Southern U.S.) could severely pollute and damage rivers, farms, ecosystems, water tables, and more. Not something U.S. citizens are eager for.

Obama seems to get the point (see the video below), but you never know….

(Oh, one more point, the pipeline is not likely to actually reduce the price of gas in the U.S.)

About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.