Anti-tar sand protest planned for White House

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

A large global warming protest with a very Canadian connection begins  this weekend at the White House.

The protest, organized by, is meant to encourage President Obama to veto the construction of the proposed Keystone pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico.

In an op-ed column for the Washington Post, Bill McKibben, one of the rally organizers, says the protest will be in the form of a 2 week sit-in and will be the biggest display of civil disobedience in the environmental movement in decades.

"We have, not surprisingly, concerns about potential spills and environmental degradation from construction of the pipeline," he wrote.

"But those tar sands are also the second-largest pool of carbon in the atmosphere, behind only the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.  If we tap into (the tar sands) in a big way…the emissions would mean it's essentially game over for the climate."

The $7-billion pipeline would carry up to 900,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta. to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

While America needs to find new and reliable supplies of oil, US stakeholders, including the  Environmental Protection Agency, have voiced concerns about emissions from the oils sands.

The US State Department expects to have a final decision on the Keystone project before the end of 2011 but Obama will have the final say. The President will need to sign a certificate of national interest before the border-crossing pipeline can be built.

McKibben says he and his cadre of anti-oil sand protesters will don Obama '08 buttons in an attempt to remind the President of his election campaign where he said his ascension would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

"Many of us will be wearing them while we sit outside his house, in an effort to show that we're not, exactly, protesting," he wrote. "We're trying to rekindle some of that passion from his groundbreaking campaign. We're trying to remind ourselves and the president how good it felt to be full of hope."