Hundreds of college students on Sunday were arrested after staging what is thought to be the biggest show of student-led civil disobedience in front of the White House, protesting the remaining construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
An estimated 500 students from as many as 80 colleges, many from nearby Georgetown University, chanted “Hey, Obama! We don’t want no pipeline drama.” They were referring to President Obama’s pending decision whether to extend the pipeline that would take more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast on a daily basis. The protest was organized by XL Dissent.
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“We are here to tell President Obama to stop a pipeline that he has the control to stop,” Justin Filtz, 26, told the Washington Post on Sunday.
“The XL pipeline is like a line in the sand if we are going to stop climate change.”
Many of the students marched in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s home to stage a fake oil spill. More than 200 of those protestors were arrested when they later tied themselves to the White House fence with plastic zip ties.
Opposition for the Keystone XL pipeline has come from environmentalists who say it doesn’t use clean energy and will negatively impact climate change. They have also voiced concerns about the possibility that the pipeline could rupture, causing massive spills and endangering those living in rural communities along the pipeline’s route.
The Washington Post reported in February that Kerry said the State Department is still working on revisions to the Environmental Impact Statement regarding the pipeline.
On the Keystone XL pipeline website, Terry O’Sullivan,
general president of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), said the project will create jobs and be a domestic source of energy.
“We continue to urge the President to approve the project. It will unlock new jobs for thousands of working men and women and harness energy that a trusted neighbor can provide,” O’Sullivan said. “Keystone isn’t just a pipeline — it is a lifeline for working men and women and for our nation’s energy security.”
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in January demanded President Obama approve the rest of the pipeline’s construction.
"Middle-class families and small businesses continue to struggle in this economy, and the president's refusal to back this job-creating project is hurting our economy," Boehner said in a statement. "If President Obama wants to make this a 'year of action,' he will stand up to the extreme left in his own party, stand with the overwhelming majority of American people, and approve this critical project."
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