Keystone XL protesters take fight to White House

Armed with an inflatable pipeline, 3,000 environmentalists remind Obama of his election-night promise

By Natasha Lennard

Published November 19, 2012 4:44PM (EST)

On Sunday, nearly 3,000 environmental protesters converged around the White House carrying 500 feet of inflatable pipeline. The rally against the Keystone XL Pipeline aimed to remind President Obama of his election-night promise to address climate change.

Obama had delayed deciding on the pipeline extension until after the election, but must now consider whether to approve the TransCanada-owned pipe, which would carry crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast, while -- according to opponents -- producing lethal levels of carbon emissions, uprooting communities and lining the pockets of oil magnates the Koch brothers.

"In 2008, many environmentalists were ready to give Obama a honeymoon. After all, this was a candidate that had promised to 'end the tyranny of oil' and 'heal the planet.' But the immense power of the fossil fuel industry made those words ring hollow. It turned out that even after a historic election, the President wasn't powerful enough to stand up to Big Oil on his own," wrote Jamie Henn, co-founder of, the environmental group that helped plan Sunday's rally.

Much recent protest to the Keystone pipeline has focused on the construction of its southern leg in Texas. The Tar Sands Blockade group has staged high-profile blockades, with the help of activists, celebrities and local landowners who oppose the seizure of their land under eminent domain for the purposes of the oil pipeline.

A decision on the Keystone XL, which is currently under environmental review, will likely not be made until next year. The Guardian notes:

Obama put the pipeline on hold in January, citing the need to review environmental concerns with a portion of the route in Nebraska.

TransCanada changed its route and reapplied for the permit. Nebraska's state government is expected to approve the new route by the end of the year, and Keystone proponents have urged the Obama administration to grant the permit soon afterward.

The State Department has said it does not anticipate concluding its review of the project before the first quarter of 2013.

Analysts have said they think Obama eventually will approve the pipeline but the timing of the decision is in question.

According to, Sunday's protest marked the first in a series of actions that will culminate in another major protest against the Keystone XL on President’s Day, Feb. 18, 2013.

This video, grating music aside, shows the inflatable pipeline prop winding its way to the White House (via LiveLeak):

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------ Barack Obama Environment Keystone Xl Pipeline Oil Video White House