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Keystone XL White House protests end with 398 arrests

Final decision from President Obama expected in summer as battle over tar sands pipeline heats up

By Ed King

US campaigners against the planned Keystone XL pipeline say 398 people were arrested in Washington DC during a day of protest on Sunday.

More than 1000 people took part in a march from Georgetown University to the White House, where some tied themselves to fences, and others lay on the ground.

The protest was the latest and most high profile in an increasingly bitter campaign to block the construction of what some say will be an environmentally catastrophic pipeline.

“An entire movement has thrown itself into in this Keystone fight, from local frontline groups to big national green organizations,” Bill McKibben from campaign group 350.org said.

“But this weekend shows the power and bravery of some of the most crucial elements: young people, and activists who understand the centrality of environmental justice.”

Just got the official Park Police count on #XLDissent arrests: 398 total. Apologies to press we told 400, but so close!

— Jamie Henn (@Agent350) March 3, 2014

The extension to the existing Keystone pipeline would be used to channel crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in Texas. The 1,664-mile US$5.4 billion project would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Studies suggest ‘well to wheel’ oil from tar sands typically emits 14-20% more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil.

Environmental campaigners are also concerned about the destruction caused by the construction of the pipeline, as well as the consequences of potential leaks.

The State Department released its final analysis on the impacts of the pipeline at the end of January, determining that it was unlikely to alter global greenhouse gas emissions.

A decision is expected at the end of the summer ahead of the US mid-term elections.

More than 75,000 people have now signed the ‘Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance’calling on President Obama to scrap the project.

Another protest is expected on outside a fundraising rally the President is hosting in San Fransisco’s Pacific Heights neighbourhood on Wednesday.

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