The Obama Administration may have rejected the existing Keystone XL pipeline proposal today, but anti-oil-sands advocates are planning a Washington, D.C. protest next week to support Obama’s decision and highlight campaign contributions from the oil industry to pro-Keystone lawmakers.
The “Blow the Whistle on Congress” event will take place on Tuesday, January 24th and feature 500 protesters dressed in black-and-white referee outfits. The event is expected to start at the U.S. Capitol and head to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s trade association.
The 1,700-mile pipeline would run from Canada’s Alberta province across seven states to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. It has become one of the most controversial fossil fuel projects to date because of concerns over the oil sands’ carbon intensity, the energy- and water-intense methods of extraction, dispute over job creation claims, and questions about if the oil sands product would increase U.S. energy independence or be sold internationally.
This protest has been seen as a reaction to intense lobbying by the oil industry in favor of the Keystone XL project, and efforts being considered by Congressional Republicans to take legislative action to unilaterally approve the project if rejected. The Obama administration, generally, and U.S. State Department, specifically, have approval authority over the pipeline because it crosses an international border.
The main event organizers, 350.org and Tar Sands Action, have previously organized two other large-scale protests of the Keystone XL proposal. The first was a two-week long sit-in outside the White House that resulted in 1,200 arrests. The second was an encircling of the White House and march through Washington, D.C. that included an estimated 10,000 protesters.
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.