12,000 tar sands protesters wrapped themselves in a huge human chain around the White House. A couple months before, 1,253 people got arrested in another powerful demonstration. Green groups, students, activists, celebrities, and politicians have all rallied behind a single, unambiguous message to Barack Obama: Deny the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline proposal.
Yesterday's event saw the biggest turnout yet -- in fact, Bill McKibben, a head organizer, said that NRDC founder (who was also in attendance) John Adams had speculated that it was the biggest environmental protest that the White House has seen in decades.I caught up with McKibben after the successful completion of the human chain, and we briefly discussed what the day's activities might mean for the future of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"This has clearly become the environmental flashpoint, and in certain ways, the political flashpoint--there's no other issue that's gotten this many people out in the streets in years around here. I think we're very much in the game. The Obama administration knows we're out here, and they know that we're full of hope," he said.
McKibben seemed encouraged by the large turnout, and the passion of the protesters, some of whom had traveled from all over the U.S. and Canada to attend. But he also noted that Obama's "got the whole power of the oil industry on the other side."
"We'll see," he said. "We'll see if he's an oil guy or a people guy. That's what it comes down to."