WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police arrested hundreds of young people
protesting the Keystone XL project on Sunday, as demonstrators fastened
themselves with plastic ties to the White House fences and called for
U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the controversial oil pipeline.
Participants, who mostly appeared to be college-aged, held signs
reading: "There is no planet B" and "Columbia says no to fossil
fuels," referring to the university in New York City.
Another group, several of whom were clad in white jumpsuits
splattered with black ink that was meant to represent oil, lay down
on a black tarp spread out on Pennsylvania Avenue to stage a mock
Organizers estimated 1,000 people protested and said several hundred
agreed to risk arrest by refusing to leave the sidewalk in front of
the White House. Citing U.S. Park Police figures, the organizers
said later that almost 400 people were arrested.
"If the Democratic Party wants to keep our vote, they better make
sure President Obama rejects that pipeline," said Nick Stracco, a
23-year-old student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Canadian energy firm TransCanada Corp is behind the proposed
pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta's oil sands to
refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The project already weathered a State Department environmental
review, which was required because the project would cross
international borders. Several other agencies also are doing
reviews, and Obama has the final say.
Environmental groups, which fear oil spills along the pipeline and
say it could hasten climate change, have staged a number of protests
at the White House over Keystone.
Supporters of the $5.4 billion pipeline say it would create
thousands of temporary construction jobs and improve U.S. energy
"Today's protest represents a fringe minority of people against any
use of fossil fuels," said Matt Dempsey of Oil Sands Fact Check.
"This extreme position is well outside the American mainstream. Even
President Obama says we need an "all of the above" approach to
energy. As a result, today's protest does little but expose the
extreme nature of these last remaining Keystone XL opponents."
Sunday's event, which was planned by students with support from
environmental groups 350.org and the Energy Action Coalition, began
with a rally at Georgetown University, where Obama unveiled a
climate change plan last summer.
The group marched to the White House, where police began arresting
protesters, pulling them aside in small groups into tents set up on
Organizers said they intended to remind the White House that young
people are a key voting demographic of the president's party and
their peers do not want to inherit environmental damage caused by
"Our future is on the line. The climate is on the line," said Aly
Johnson-Kurts, 20, who is taking a year off from Smith College in
Massachusetts. She said she had decided to get arrested on Sunday.
"When do we say we've had enough?"
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and