Thousands of people are gearing up for November 6 when they will encircle the White House in Washington, D.C., to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Their message to President Obama? Tar sands oil is not in the national interest and that he must deny the presidential permit for the 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline, which runs from Canada through the United States to Mexico.
The Sierra Club has said that this is one of the most important environmental issues confronting Obama. The oil, according to environmentalists, is some of the dirtiest, most destructive oil in the world and could threaten drinking water as well as farmers and ranchers. Even some Tea Party activists in Texas have aligned with environmentalists to protest the pipeline. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's State Department, too, has a say in the pipeline. (TransCanada's main lobbyist for the pipeline was deputy manager of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.)
The clean air advocates plan to highlight this conflict of interest during the rally. More importantly, they say, that this will be a real test for Obama to stand his ground as he is going into the 2012 campaign. The issue affects several heartland states like Nebraska, which Obama barely won in 2008. If he sells them out on this, they may not turn out in 2012 to pull the lever for him. "He needs a big win, not just a bunch of proposed EPA regs that haven't been finalized such as the mercury rule and the ozone rule," says one environmentalist involved in the issue.