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Protestors call on Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline

From Stacey Samuel, CNN
November 20, 2012 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The 1,700-mile pipeline would run from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Obama in the past has rejectd rapid approval
  • Romney and the GOP support it
  • Protestors gather in D.C., urging the administration to reject the proposed pipeline

Washington (CNN) -- Less than two weeks after Barack Obama won his re-election campaign, protesters gathered Sunday to call on the president and his administration to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and to act on climate change.

While Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he would support construction of the 1,700-mile pipeline, for the jobs he said the pipeline would create, Obama in the past has rejected rapid approval, citing what he called the "arbitrary nature" of the deadline Republicans proposed for passage and the need for sufficient time for the State Department to gather information necessary for a project that crosses into the American border.

Nearly a year ago, the State Department announced the decision to delay until after the 2012 election consideration of the controversial project that would originate in Alberta, Canada,'s tar sands and would extend to the Gulf of Mexico.

Keystone pipeline protesters arrested in Texas

On Sunday, protestors flooded Washington's Freedom Plaza, before laying down their signs and picking up a 500-foot plastic "oil pipe," which they carried a few blocks to the White House.

Daryl Hannah takes on a bulldozer
PIckens on importance of Keystone

One of the event's main organizers, founder of 350.org, Bill McKidden, said that activists may have been silent but haven't forgotten about the project and now they've organized to remind the administration of their commitment to preventing fossil fuel based projects that they say are causing increased climate change.

"They said a year ago they would study it further, now that year is up, and in the meantime we've had the hottest year in America history, we've had an epic drought, we've had the Arctic melting and we've had Superstorm Sandy flooding the subways of New York," said McKibben.

"The pipeline has come to symbolize something much, much bigger than just one energy project, it's come to symbolize what is our energy future, and what President Obama is going to do on climate change," said activist Jane Kleeb of the anti-pipeline organization Bold Nebraska, in a state where the Keystone XL project would cut through predominantly agricultural areas.

At issue is the potential for water and soil contamination from the 500,000 to 700,000 barrels of crude oil that would traverse the pipeline each day.

Film director Josh Fox, whose documentary "Gasland" examined the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," was among protesters with camera in hand. "I'm here doing a film on (McKidden's 350.org's) "Do the Math," and the math tells us that we have more fossil fuels in the ground than is supportable by the atmosphere without total catastrophe and calamity," said Fox.

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