Thousands at climate rally in Washington call on Obama to reject Keystone pipelineBy Valerie Volcovici | Reuters – 20 hrs ago
A new poll by Harris Interactive showed 69 percent of respondents said they support construction of the pipeline, with only 17 percent saying they oppose it.
One of Sunday's main organizers, climate activist Bill McKibben, said that approving the pipeline, which would transport crude oil from the oil sands of northern Alberta to refineries and ports in Texas, would be akin to lighting a "carbon bomb" that could cause irreparable harm to the climate.
"For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work," said McKibben, founder of the environmental group 350.org.
Other major organizing groups on Sunday included the Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus.
The proposed TransCanada Corp project has been pending for 4-1/2 years. A revised route through Nebraska, which would avoid crossing sensitive ecological zones and aquifers, was approved by that state's governor last month.
Backers of Keystone, which would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, say it would provide thousands of jobs in the United States and increase North American energy security.
Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because the oil sands extraction process is carbon intensive, and say the oil extracted is dirtier than traditional crude oil.
Van Jones, Obama's former green jobs adviser, said if the president approved the pipeline just weeks after pledging to act on climate change, it would overshadow other actions Obama takes to reduce pollution.
"There is nothing else you can do if you let that pipeline go through. It doesn't matter what you do on smog rules and automobile rules - you've already given the whole game way," said Jones, who is president of Rebuild the Dream, a non-government organization.
Still, some of Obama's core constituents favor the pipeline, including the labor union AFL-CIO's building and construction unit, which sees the potential for job creation for its members, and certain Democratic lawmakers.
In January, nine Democratic senators joined 44 Republicans in urging the president to approve Keystone XL.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; editing by Ros Krasny and Mohammad Zargham)