Thousands Rally at White House to Stop Keystone XL

This past Sunday, instead of my usual routine of sitting on the couch watching the NFL and eating celery sticks (which is what I call leftover pizza), I joined a few thousand of my closest friends at the White House to speak out against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Activists carry a 500-foot inflated “pipeline” at the head of the crowd (Photo: Avelino Maestas/NWF)
Despite the chilly weather, the crowd was energized and ready to go, chants ringing out and, just past the Treasury Building, a boombox appropriately thundering anthems by Rage Against The Machine. A year ago many of the same people had rallied here and formed an enormous ring, three deep, all around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—we were there to give the President support (“a big hug around the White House” as founder Bill McKibben put it) for his decision to reject KXL—and it worked. This time, following rumors that the pipeline might be the next domino to fall, we wanted to remind him that we are still paying attention, still fighting for our right to a healthy planet, clean water and fresh air.

Often, inside the Beltway, it can be hard to separate the noise and chatter out from what what Americans really care about, and Keystone XL definitely falls into that category. The oil industry has spent years fabricating a series of myths around the pipeline: that it will boost U.S. energy security, for example, or take a big bite out of the unemployment rate, or that it’s an environmentally safe project. None of those are true, of course, but they somehow gave Congress the idea that Keystone would be a great idea, and put President Obama in between a rock (Big Oil and their bottomless wallets) and a hard place (the coalition of conservationists, tribes, and landowners who oppose the pipeline).

Photo: Peter LaFontaine/NWF
After the election, National Wildlife Federation and Zogby International released a poll that showed that Americans—and, overwhelmingly, independent voters—would much rather commit to renewable energy than Keystone XL and other polluting projects. On Sunday, surrounded by older activists, kids in oversized “NO KXL” t-shirts, and enthusiastic college students waving signs, I saw a cross-section of the United States: the real grassroots United States, not the “astroturf” advertising that Big Oil has used to push its agenda. After all, when was the last time you heard 10,000 people chanting “We want KXL!” as they marched past the Washington Monument?

Last week we told you why we think President Obama will make the right call and stand strong against tar sands, but it’s crucial that we don’t turn the volume down yet. Already, groups are planning another rally for Presidents Day (February 18th) so keep an eye out for more information soon…Because who knows? Maybe your voice will be the one that scraps this project once and for all. Even better, the NFL season will be over by then so I won’t have to choose between pizza celery and keeping the world safe for people and wildlife.

Take ActionStand up against tar sands! Tell President Obama to say “NO!” to the Keystone XL pipeline.