Nearly 300 rallies across the country last night urged President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. The nationwide outpouring followed Friday’s release of an environmental analysis by the U.S. State Department. That report was widely interpreted as clearing the way for the project’s approval, even though a closer read showed that there’s a lot in it to demonstrate that building the pipeline could be damaging to water, wildlife, agriculture, and climate.
The community vigils were organized by CREDO, the Sierra Club, 350.org, Bold Nebraska, NRDC (which publishes OnEarth), and several other groups that oppose the $5 billion project, which would ship 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil a day across the American heartland to Gulf Coast refineries and overseas markets.
"The more people learn about what Keystone XL means for their climate, water, land and health, the more concerned they are," wrote Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, NRDC’s international program director. President Obama has said he would reject the pipeline if it would "significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."
Though Friday’s report concludes the pipeline's impact would be largely neutral—because it assumes the Alberta tar sands would be extracted anyway and shipped via rail or other pipelines—it also represents the first time that the State Department has acknowledged that the project could cause major climate impacts.
People along the pipeline route are also concerned about the impact a spill could have on their communities (witness what happened when tar sands oil spilled in Michigan and Arkansas), as well as the strong-arm tactics of pipeline builder TransCanada in securing land for the project. "TransCanada is fighting for their bottom line, while farmers and ranchers are fighting for their livelihoods," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, during a rally at the state's governors mansion.
Here are photos from the vigils held across the country on Monday. (Did we miss yours? Tweet it to @OnEarthMag.)
Santa Monica, California
Back in September, Bold Nebraska built a solar-powered barn in the pipeline's planned pathway. The solar panels on top and a small wind turbine not only power the barn but also pump power back into the local grid--which, opponents point out, is more than KXL would do. Included in the photo below are several Nebraska farmers and ranchers whose property would be crossed by the pipeline (including the owners of the land where the solar barn stands).
New York City
Did we miss your vigil? Tweet a photo to @OnEarthMag.
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