Thousands at climate rally want Obama to reject Keystone pipeline

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Thousands of protesters gathered on the Washington's National Mall on Sunday calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal and honor his inaugural pledge to act on climate change.

Organizers of the "Forward on Climate" event estimated that 35,000 people from 30 states turned out in cold, blustery conditions for what they said was the biggest climate rally in U.S. history. Police did not verify the crowd size.

Protesters also marched around the nearby White House, chanting "Keystone pipeline? Shut it down." Among the celebrities on hand were actresses Rosario Dawson and Evangeline Lilly, and hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer.

The event came days after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators made the latest call for Obama to approve the $5.3 billion pipeline, seen by many as an engine for job growth and another step toward energy independence.

A new poll by Harris Interactive showed 69 percent of respondents said they support construction of the pipeline, with only 17 percent saying they oppose it.

One of Sunday's main organizers, climate activist Bill McKibben, said that approving the pipeline, which would transport crude oil from the oil sands of northern Alberta to refineries and ports in Texas, would be akin to lighting a "carbon bomb" that could cause irreparable harm to the climate.

"For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work," said McKibben, founder of the environmental group

Other major organizing groups on Sunday included the Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus.

The proposed TransCanada Corp project has been pending for 4-1/2 years. A revised route through Nebraska, which would avoid crossing sensitive ecological zones and aquifers, was approved by that state's governor last month.

Backers of Keystone, which would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, say it would provide thousands of jobs in the United States and increase North American energy security.

Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because the oil sands extraction process is carbon intensive, and say the oil extracted is dirtier than traditional crude oil.

Van Jones, Obama's former green jobs adviser, said if the president approved the pipeline just weeks after pledging to act on climate change, it would overshadow other actions Obama takes to reduce pollution.

"There is nothing else you can do if you let that pipeline go through. It doesn't matter what you do on smog rules and automobile rules - you've already given the whole game way," said Jones, who is president of Rebuild the Dream, a non-government organization.

Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, the lone member of Congress to speak at the rally, told Reuters Obama risked creating a "credibility gap" if he approved the pipeline.

"He would have to roll out a very complete and very strong package to offset something that on its own is described by government scientist as 'game-over' on climate," he said.

Still, some of Obama's core constituents favor the pipeline, including the labor union AFL-CIO's building and construction unit, which sees the potential for job creation for its members, and certain Democratic lawmakers.

In January, nine Democratic senators joined 44 Republicans in urging the president to approve Keystone XL.

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Al Bore    
Toronto  |  February, 19, 2013 at 07:30 AM

Climate change’s dirty little secret leaves further climate change support unsustainable: Either climate change was a genuine crisis or it wasn’t because you can’t have a little climate crisis so the next time you look your kids in the eyes and tell them climate change crisis will happen in their lifetime, you are condemning your own kids with CO2 death threats. If you really loved the planet and humanity and your own family you would rejoice at the mere prospect of climate change crisis being just thankfully a tragic exaggeration after all. Here is proof climate change is not a crisis and therefore not a concern. Yes pollution is real but the CO2 greenhouse gas ovens for Humanity are not true: 1-Science says it is “real and happening and “could” cause a climate crisis”. Science has NEVER said a crisis will happen, only might happen because not one single IPCC warning is without “maybes”. Science will not say the worse disaster imaginable “WILL” happen or is “imminent”. How close to the point of unstoppable warming will science take us before they say it will happen? 2-There are millions of good and honest people in global scientific community. Do you see them acting like they condemned their kids as well as ours to a climate crisis? Climate change was thankfully an exaggeration, not by science but by believers, news editors and politicians because science never did say it would be a crisis, only could be and might be and … If it were a crisis science would have said so, not milked the needless CO2 panic for 27 years of studying mostly effects not causes of an assumed to be real crisis. Science gave us pesticides don’t forget. Deny that.

Chile  |  February, 19, 2013 at 08:24 AM

"There are millions of good and honest people in global scientific community. Do you see them acting like they condemned their kids as well as ours to a climate crisis?" Of course there are. And the vast majority of that scientific community is agreeing that climate change is real, and that "man-made activity" is significantly contributing to it. Not any individual by itself can alter that, but indeed CAN contribute by supporting environmental policy, and by being a more conscious cosumer. We can make your kids aware of THAT, when we look them in the face. And we tell them they can do so much better taking care of the planet than their parents have done so far. Al Bore, try that, rather than continue denying that we are part of the problem, simply because those adjustments in life style are perhaps not convenient to you. As for the science-based climate change deniers: check who is funding their "research". Check who has the most money to lobby in Washington.

Michigan  |  February, 19, 2013 at 09:40 AM

Just a heads-up here Jan -- you'd better buy yourself some longjohns and fill up the woodshed 'cause I'm about to change a bunch of light bulbs around here and I might use some of those screwy Al Gore lightbulbs this time and if I do I will cause global warming to be reversed and global cooling will set in. So expect glaciers to be creeping up on you soon enough -- keep your eyes peeled! Now that we know we can control and even reverse climate trends I think we should worry about people like me abusing the green technology and freezing the planet into a danged popsicle. The grandkids won't like that one little bit. I expect the glacier will crush your house Jan, so maybe you want to think about moving into a motorhome or something portable to cope with that impending crisis? Just sayin'

kansas  |  February, 19, 2013 at 09:58 AM

"Consensus of Opinion" & "Settled Science" bullying hasn't gone away - just become an Article of Faith for the eco-economics-terrorists like Jan & ilk. Gasoline prices are up $0.51 in just 60 days and what is the reaction of the True Believers and their Media Toadies?? Cheers and/or Silence. The rich, white, 1st World zealots leading their Gaia religion's attacks care nothing for the continuing suffering of the poor and disadvantaged, or the economic ruin in North America. Their leaders, such as Van Jones - the famous Truther and former member of the American Communist Party, exploit these self-righteous, eco-deluded and massively gullible accolytes of Gaia worship for their own personal and political gain. They are the true "Science Deniers" and have always been. It's up to Reasoning people to fight-back against the onslaught of Rich, White, 1st World eco-terror and see to it that Reasonable actions are taken. Don't give up just because Hollywood experts shout you down. Be strong and hold the line!


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