Thousands of protesters gathered outside the White House, to urge President Barack Obama to aggressively combat climate change.
Demonstrators formed a human pipeline Sunday, stretching from the National Mall to the White House, to protest an oil pipeline that would stretch across the United States, linking Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
They want Obama to reject the nearly 3,000-kilometer Keystone XL Pipeline, saying its development would harm the environment and ultimately lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions. They also want the president to order U.S. authorities to set carbon standards for power plants.
“The people are upset at what’s going on and he needs to actually pay attention to what the people want and not what the corporations want,” said a protester named Leslie.
Local and national environmental groups organized what they hoped would be the largest climate rally in U.S. history.
“You are the antibodies kicking in as the planet tries to fight its fever,” said protest organizer Bill McKibben.
The State Department is scheduled to release a new environmental impact statement on the pipeline project after authorities changed the planned construction path to bypass ecologically sensitive areas. But the project’s future remains uncertain, following the president’s renewed focus on climate change.
And after a four-and-a-half-year-long hold on building it, critics accuse the Obama administration of unnecessarily impeding America’s energy independence and preventing the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
“I believe that the president has been overly political in catering to so-called green energy private investors, as well as others, when our carbon dioxide emissions are lower now than they have been in 20 years,” said Rep. Ed Whitefield.
Just like the protesters, proponents of the pipeline plan on holding their own grassroots events across the country in support of the project’s approval.