More than 70 peaceful protestors—including the former chair of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality under the Carter Administration Gus Speth— were deliberately arrested this weekend outside the White House in an effort to pressure the Obama Administration to stop the construction of the dangerous tar sands pipeline Keystone XL.
The arrests are part of a two-week protest in which thousands have signed up to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against the tar sands pipeline. Bill McKibben, lead organizer of the protests and founder of 350.org, outlined the goals of the protests last week in the Washington Post:
“The issue is simple: We want the president to block construction of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico. We have, not surprisingly, concerns about potential spills and environmental degradation from construction of the pipeline. 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 them in a big way, NASA climatologist James Hansen explained in a paper issued this summer, the emissions would mean it’s ‘essentially game over’ for the climate.”
The State Department plans to release a final environmental review of the pipeline later this month, and the Obama Administration has 90 days to make a decision on to whether to reject, accept, or delay the permits for the pipeline’s construction.