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Protest Groups Plan Civil Disobedience to Stop Keystone XL

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Oil refinersA collection of political activist groups have banded together to stage a series of protests against the Keystone XL project. CREDO, Rainforest Action Network and the Other 98% planned their first act of civil disobedience as part of the “Pledge of Resistance” to the Keystone XL pipeline. The groups have also launched the website www.nokxl.org to act as an organizational hub for the protests.

At an organized sit-in on June 17 at the U.S. State Department office in Chicago, 22 protestors were arrested. The organizations chose the downtown Chicago location because of the State Department’s role in approving the project and because of the city’s significance as President Barack Obama’s hometown.

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The sit-in was the first of a number of civil disobedience actions the groups are planning throughout the summer to show the president they are serious about the pledge, according to a statement. So far, more than 62,000 people have signed the group’s “Pledge of Resistance” to risk arrest in peaceful demonstrations if the Obama administration issues a draft National Interest Determination in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision is expected later this year.

“Many of President Obama’s best supporters have pledged to risk arrest to stop Keystone XL and next week’s action in Chicago is a preview of what’s to come if his State Department recommends approval of the pipeline,” said Becky Bond, CREDO’s political director. “The people who knocked on doors, donated to his campaign and helped put him in the White House are watching to see if President Obama will side with a foreign oil company or keep his promise and take real action to fight climate change, starting with rejecting Keystone XL.”

The Keystone XL pipeline project was proposed by TransCanada, based in Calgary, Alberta. The 1,179-mile pipeline would bring crude oil from western Canada to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Opponents of the project say the pipeline would pose a risk to the environment.

“The science is irrefutable, the Keystone XL pipeline, if built, poses an extreme risk to the climate and to public health,” said Amanda Starbuck, Rainforest Action Network’s energy and finance program director. The protest groups are planning a number of training events throughout July for activists.

In January, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved TransCanada’s proposed route through the state. The State Department released a Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement in March that reaffirmed “there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route.” With an anticipated decision on the Presidential Permit this year, TransCanada projects an in-service date of 2015 for Keystone XL.

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