The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election and sparked nationwide opposition, from Nebraska ranchers to former Obama campaigners. A petition with 617,428 names opposing the pipeline will be delivered to the White House today.
Over the course of the two-week sit-in 1,252 people were arrested, including top climate scientists, landowners from Texas and Nebraska, former Obama for America staffers, First Nations leaders from Canada, and notable individuals including Bill McKibben, former White House official Gus Speth, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, actor Daryl Hannah, filmmaker Josh Fox, and author Naomi Klein.
“Back home we are fighting to protect our land and water. This week, we decided to bring that fight to the President’s doorstep,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of BOLD Nebraska, who led a delegation of Nebraskans who were arrested this morning. “We are acting on our values and expect our President to act as well.”
Despite the 1,252 arrests and about a thousand more people rallying in Lafayette Park, the White House is continuing its code of silence: “We heard not one word from them,” McKibben told the New York Times.
More details, photos and a video from Saturday’s protest after the jump.
How many protesters were there? Police loaded the them onto vans and even Metro buses:
Each time a van or bus left the fenced-in sit-in zone, the crowd went wild:
A stage was set up in the adjacent Lafayette Park. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus urged Obama to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and slammed President Obama’s move to block stronger ozone pollution limits, telling the rally, “I’ve buried babies that have died of asthma attacks.”
As Steve Benen details, Obama retreated on stronger ozone pollution limits while asking nothing in return from polluters or their Republican allies. That fact wasn’t lost on those urging Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. “President Obama can’t blame Congress for this,” Bill McKibben told the crowd. “This is all on him.”