President Obama was interrupted by several people protesting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday at a rally in Boston’s Faneuil Hall to talk about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The protesters started chanting at the opening of the president’s remarks, just after he said he had tried to grow a beard during the Red Sox’ playoff run.
Recent college graduates Sophie Robinson and Shea Riester broke into the speech clearly, saying “Mr. President, reject Keystone XL! Stop climate change! For our generation, stop the pipeline!”
Obama replied, as Robinson and Riester were dragged from the hall: “Okay. Okay. We’re talking about health care today. … That is the wrong rally! We had the climate change rally back in the summer! This is the health care rally!”
Watch video of the exchange:
350 Massachusetts had announced a protest of the President’s visit, though the Facebook page did not mention the Faneuil Hall event. It said “climate activists from 350MA, Sierra Club, Students for a Just and Stable Future, Center for Biological Diversity, and others will deliver the No KXL message with signs, banners, and chants.”
350 tweeted shortly after the protest that “There’s no wrong time to say #noKXL.”
The climate crisis isn’t waiting. There’s no wrong time to say #noKXL.
— 350 dot org (@350) October 30, 2013
Another protester briefly interrupted the speech again several minutes later.
350.org communications director Daniel Kessler said in a statement after the speech concluded, “Two youth climate activists today disrupted President Obama’s speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston, calling on him to take on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”
Riester, one of the first two protesters, “understands that the construction of the KXL pipeline, infrastructure that locks us in to immense carbon pollution, is a threat to his own future and all life on earth, and is determined to stop it,” according to the release.
The decision on whether to approve the tar sands pipeline currently rests with the State Department. The consulting firm that State hired to write the draft Environmental Impact Statement had undisclosed ties to fossil fuel companies that have a stake in the Canadian tar sands industry.
The EPA recommended that the State Department go back to the drawing board on consideration of the pipeline. The Interior Department said in August that the pipeline would not just enable more carbon emissions — it would also have “permanent impacts” on wildlife.
If built, the pipeline would create only 35 permanent jobs, emit 51 coal plants’ worth of CO2 per year, and pump tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas where much of it could be exported to other countries.