Hundreds Arrested as John Kerry Weighs Keystone Pipeline Project
On January 31, the U.S. Department of State released a long-awaited supplementary report on the environmental impact of the construction of TransCanada’s (NYSE:TRP) proposed Keystone pipeline, and its findings paved the pay for federal approval of the project. The assessment concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline — with its capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day — would not substantially accelerate carbon pollution. The report also appeared to indicated that if the pipeline is not built, oil would be extracted from pristine Alberta forest at the same rate, but it would instead be transported to the Gulf Coast refineries by rail. With the environmental impact understood, it is up to Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend to President Barack Obama whether to approve the project, and as the nation awaits his decision, protesters are pushing the Obama administration to reject the pipeline.
To many experts in the energy sector, the State Department’s discovery that the construction of the Keystone pipeline will do little to impact that amount of oil drilled in Alberta’s Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin is hardly surprising. “At the end of the day, there’s a consensus among most energy experts that the oil will get shipped to market no matter what,” Robert McNally, an energy consultant who was a senior energy and economic adviser to President George W. Bush, told the New York Times. “It’s less important than I think it was perceived to be a year ago, both politically and on oil markets.” Still, opponents of the project have made clear that their concern for its environmental impact has not lessened. After, the transport of oil by rail has hazards as well; as the use of railroads in oil transportation has increased, so too have the incidents of explosions of rail cars carrying oil.
The latest demonstration saw the arrest of 300 protesters on Sunday, reported Politico. Students from as many as 80 colleges gathered initially at Georgetown University and marched toward the White House after making a stop at Kerry’s home in Washington. Some came dressed in painter’s scrubs covered in black paint, meant to represent hazmat suits covered in oil, while others held signs bearing slogans like “Keystone XL: pipeline to hell” and “Keep your oil out of my soil.” Upon reaching the White House, many protesters took plastic zip ties to affix themselves to the fence surrounding the presidential residence. Remaining protesters stood around them holding banners. Together, they chanted: “Hey, Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama.”