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October 28, 2011

Public to President: Just Say No to Keystone XL

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President Obama held a fundraiser in San Francisco on October 25, and more than 1,000 of his supporters showed up—not inside the swanky W Hotel, where some 200 donors convened for lunch—but outside on the streets to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed $13 billion, 1,700-mile conduit that would carry tar sands from Alberta to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.

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As protesters massed on the sidewalks, audio clips from Obama's 2008 campaign, promising to end America's dependence on oil, played over loudspeakers. That's a cutout of the prez, below, with one of those campaign statements.

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"There's a sense of, 'Look, you haven't given us a whole lot during this administration. It's time to give us something significant, and this is it,' " Michael Marx, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil Campaign, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "'If you don't give it to us, it's such a sign that you've betrayed your promises to us.'"

The Sierra Club is part of an action in Washinton, D.C., on Sunday, November 6—exactly one year from Election Day 2012—to rally thousands of citizens and encircle the White House for the largest-ever protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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The Oct. 25 rally in San Feancisco was organized by environmental activist Elijah Zarlin of the group CREDO Action.

"In the last election I was at the campaign headquarters in Chicago writing fundraising emails to help generate the small-dollar donations that helped elect Barack Obama president," Zarlin told USA Today. "But this week I'm working with CREDO Action and helping to organize over 1,000 people to stand with me outside one of President Obama's high-dollar fundraisers, asking him to deliver on the change he promised us—by stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline."

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Obama alarmed environmentalists earlier this year by taking the task of environmental assessment and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline away from the Environmental Protection Agency, which had questioned the project, and turning it over to the State Department. The White House said the move was necessary because the pipeline would cross an international border.

Among those protesting outside Obama's San Francisco fundraiser was someone who under other circumstances might have been breaking bread with the president on the inside: Susie Tomkins Buell, a major Democratic Party donor and fundraiser for progressive campaign causes.

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"I think this is a huge issue about our future, about the planet, not just America," Buell told the San Francisco Chronicle. "And [Obama] needs to be a leader … to have awareness of it … to fight for it."

The Sierra Club has been working to educate the public about the dangers of tar sands development and galvanize opposition to Keystone XL, both in the court of public opinion and in courts of law.

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President Obama said on Wednesday that his administration has not made a decision on the project, and State Department officials hinted that a decision on Keystone XL may not be made until next year.

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Find out how you can get involved in the Sierra Club's fight to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, and learn more about toxic tar sands and what the Club is doing to promote clean energy solutions and move America beyond oil.

Tar-Sands-report

Photos courtesy of 350.org, except last three photos by Mark Westlund.

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