RFK Jr. Arrested While Protesting Keystone Pipeline at White House

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 03:03 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Attorney and radio host Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was arrested Wednesday along with others outside the White House protesting the proposed construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

The 1,700-mile pipeline, which thus far has been opposed by President Barack Obama, would carry synthetic crude oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.

The pipeline has been a major source of contention within the Obama administration, dividing core constituencies that comprise the president's base.

Environmentalists vehemently oppose the pipeline, arguing that it will contribute to global warming through creating more "dirty oil," while labor unions support the project, arguing that it will generate much needed jobs throughout the central United States.

Kennedy, 59, son of the late New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was arrested after he and others tied themselves to the White House gate.

Others arrested included actress Daryl Hannah, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, civil rights leader Julian Bond, and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

The arrest of Brune was the first time in Sierra Club's 120-year history that one of its leaders was involved in an act of civil disobedience.

Kennedy, who is also the president of the New York-based environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance, called the pipeline "a boondoggle of monumental proportions" that will "ruin the lives of millions of people," through increased carbon pollution and likely spills, the Associated Press reported.

When asked by reporters how he felt after being detained by police, Kennedy said he was being arrested "with regret," noting that he would prefer to contest the pipeline in court.

Kennedy was last in the news when his estranged and depressed wife hanged herself in May in an outbuilding at her home. Mary Kennedy, 52, the mother of four children aged between 17 and 10, was found dead at her home in Mount Kisco, 30 miles north of New York City.

In addition to the White House protests, Obama was confronted by demonstrators while he traveled to a factory in Asheville, N.C., where he was met with signs that read "Stop coal" and "No to Keystone."

Obama has twice rejected proposals for the Keystone pipeline over concerns that its route passes through sensitive farmlands across the nation's heartland. However, with Nebraska's Republican governor recently approving a newly proposed route that should quell some environmental concerns, the decision is likely to go before Obama again.

The State Department officially formal authority over the project because it crosses an international border, however most observers expect Obama to make the final decision.

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