Thousands Expected To Attend Natonwide Vigils Monday To Urge Obama To Reject Keystone XL

CREDIT: (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Hundreds of concerned citizens are expected to flock to Union Square in Manhattan Monday night, braving the ongoing snowstorm to participate in a candlelight vigil to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. They will be joined by thousands of protesters gathering in churches, parks, and city halls at nearly 300 similar demonstrations in 48 states.

CREDO, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and, among a host of other groups, are helping to organize the vigils.

The nationwide night of peaceful protests follows the release of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline late last Friday.

While many news outlets reported the final EIS as the State Department taking a huge step towards approving the pipeline, environmental groups disagree and are rallying their grassroots activists to make their voices heard on the first business day since the EIS release.

“A lot of people sent me messages Friday saying ‘sorry you lost on Keystone,” said Elijah Zarlin, a Senior Campaign Manager at CREDO. “I was shocked. The fact that the fossil fuel industry was able to so effectively spin the headlines is just indicative of how deeply involved they have been in this process all along.”

The State Department’s inspector general is currently investigating whether the contractor that produced the final impact statement, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) had an undisclosed conflict of interests. ERM has done work for TransCanada.

One of the vigils being planned is outside a federal building in Kalamazoo Michigan, not far from the site of the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. In 2010, a pipeline owned by Enbridge, spilled around 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen — the same type of heavy crude Keystone XL would carry — into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Because this type of crude sinks in water, the cleanup process is still ongoing and has cost Enbridge over $1 billion.

Zarlin expects as many as 10,000 citizens to attend vigils. A map of the nationwide vigils is available online.

“Fossil fuel contractors and lobbyists have had their say,”said Zarlin. “Now it’s time for real people to to send their message to the President.”

“These demonstrations will show just how engaged people are on this issue, something the Administration should take to heart as we head into important midterm elections,” Zarlin added. “Rejecting Keystone would inject a lot of energy into the progressive base.”