Thousands push Obama to reject Keystone pipeline

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 4, 2014 

US NEWS OBAMA 1 SJ

John McCullough holds up his sign protesting the plan to build an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, called the Keystone XL pipeline, in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

NHAT V. MEYER — San Jose Mercury News /MCT

Thousands of activists held more than 280 vigils this week urging President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

The protests came the release of the State Department’s final environmental review which minimized the climate change impact of building the pipeline.

A slew of groups, including CREDO, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and 350.org, organized the vigils in Washington, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

"These vigils are largest, on-the-ground, rapid response protest at any time during the Obama administration," said Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at CREDO Action.

"This amazing public reaction came together in less than 72 hours because Americans across the nation want the president to hear it again, loud and clear: It's time to move forward on clean energy,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director.

Keystone would bring crude oil from the Canadian oil sands to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. Plans for the pipelines are so controversial because tapping the thick Alberta crude would result in the production of more planet-warming gases than would conventional sources of oil.

Friday’s report triggers a 90-day review to determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest, a finding that will take into account factors such as economic impacts and energy security issues as well as the environment. Secretary of State John Kerry will then make a judgment.

White House spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped repeated questions about whether Obama will weigh in on the Keystone pipeline.

“We have a longstanding process…in place to determine whether projects like this are in the national interest,” Carney said. “And at this point, the process is now at the State Department, and we're gonna let that run its course, as is in keeping with past practice of previous administrations.”

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