Today marks the final day of the Tar Sands Action, a two week-long protest of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that took place outside the White House in Washington, D.C.
Although the State Department gave the project it’s approval just days into the protest, the enthusiasm of the protesters did not waver. As of Saturday morning, the total arrest count reported by TarSandsAction.org was 1,009, with at least 200 arrests expected today.
“Given yesterday’s baffling cave on ozone standards, the need for a fighting environmental movement has never been more clear,” said Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protest. “That movement is being born right here in front of the White House and reverberating around the country.”
The proposed 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. A rupture in the pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America’s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 20 million people. NASA’s top climate scientist says that fully developing the tar sands in Canada would mean “essentially game over” for the climate.
A diverse collective of activist groups have spoken out against the Keystone XL pipeline, including youth leaders, religious leaders, environmentalists and the presidents of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
McKibben challenged President Obama to show the dedicated protesters the same courtesy he showed to Chamber of Commerce by walking across Lafayette Square to meet them and listen to their concerns:
Maybe tomorrow you could take the time to walk half that far, to see a big cross-section of us, many of who worked to get you elected. We’ve conducted the largest civil disobedience protest in many years on your front door for the last two weeks, with more than a thousand Americans from every state in the union getting arrested. The only response we’ve heard from the White House is your press secretary saying he had chosen not to discuss our action with you.
You alone will get to make the choice of whether to grant a “presidential certificate of national interest” to this project. We hope you’ll join us to hear our assessment of the project. We don’t have as much money as the Chamber of Commerce, but maybe that shouldn’t always be the deciding factor.
Click on the thumbnails below to view more images from this historical act of civil disobedience.
Image Credit: Flickr – tarsandsaction