Biggest Environmental Rally in Decades Attracts Nationwide Media Attention

Sunday's 40,000-person strong Keystone XL protest in Washington, and several solidarity rallies, grabbed headlines across the country.

According to organizers, some 40,000 people marched to the White House on Sunday to urge Pres. Obama to cancel the proposed Keystone XL pipeline—while solidarity protests big and small took plus in 18 North American cities. Credit: Joshua Lopez, Project Survival Media

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As many as 40,000 protesters from 30 states descended on the White House on Sunday and demanded that President Obama kill the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. By the estimates of organizers, it was the biggest protest march for climate change action in the nation’s history.

In about 18 cities from Boston to Los Angeles, thousands more participated in solidarity rallies—and helped garner unusual nationwide media attention for an issue that has typically slipped under the local media radar.

National environmental activists have made the Keystone XL a test of Obama’s climate promises, as well as the cornerstone issue of a mushrooming grassroots movement to turn climate action into a moral issue. The pipeline would carry crude from the Canadian tar sands to Texas refineries and deepen U.S. dependence on a form of oil that produces more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.  

The movement is emerging as the biggest environmental protest effort in decades. In recent weeks, protests have sprung up across the country for the first time to stop oil sands import pipelines on climate grounds. Last week, 50 people were arrested at the White House in civil disobedience over the Keystone XL. 

Sunday’s event, led by advocacy groups and Sierra Club, was the third and largest pipeline demonstration at the White House in 18 months. A decision by the Obama administration on the Keystone XL is expected later this year.

Here’s a roundup of “Forward on Climate” coverage from around the country:

Washington D.C.

Crowd Marches to Voice Opposition to Keystone Pipeline (Washington Post)

A crowd that organizers said numbered approximately 35,000 braved the cold on Sunday and marched to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and to show leadership on other climate issues they called urgent.


Thousands Protest Keystone XL Pipeline in San Francisco (San Francisco Chronicle)

Organizers of the San Francisco protest estimated that more than 4,000 people gathered to condemn the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

L.A. Protesters Join Campaign Against Keystone Oil Pipeline (Los Angeles Times)

Hundreds of protesters marched on Los Angeles City Hall on Sunday in a local demonstration organized by a coalition of 90 groups, led by Tar Sands Action Southern California and the Sierra Club.

Hundreds March in San Diego to Protest Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline (ABC 10 News)

Hundreds of San Diegans marched near Mission Bay, San Diego on Sunday, joining a nationwide protest to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.


Pipeline Protesters March Downtown Chicago (Chicago Tribune)

More than 200 opponents to the Keystone XL Pipeline gathered Sunday in Chicago’s Grant Park, about halfway between Washington, D.C.

Iowans Protest Keystone XL Pipeline in Ames (Iowa State Daily)

More than 30 protestors gathered at Brookside Park in Ames, Iowa, on Feb. 17 to listen to a short talk on how the Keystone XL pipeline will negatively impact the environment, sign letters to representatives and have kids sign a letter to Obama.

Nebraskans March Against Pipeline in Washington (Lincoln Journal Star) 

About 125 people from across the Cornhusker State attended the D.C. rally against the Keystone XL, whose route would cross parts of the critical Ogallala aquifer and fragile lands in Nebraska.

Missouri Students Attend Country’s Largest Climate Rally in Washington, D.C. (Missourian)

More than 100 Missouri college students made the 15-hour drive to Washington, D.C. for the country’s largest ever climate change rally.


500 Local Protesters Join Rally in D.C. Against Climate Change (Philadelphia Inquirer)

More than 500 people from the Philadelphia region joined thousands of protesters Sunday in Washington, calling for strong action on climate change and a stop to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mainers Take Part in Climate Rally in Washington (AP)

Five busloads of Mainers are taking part in a demonstration in Washington that’s being described as the largest climate rally ever in the U.S.

Springfield, Mass. Locals Join Protest of Pipeline (The Recorder)

When thousands rallied in Washington, D.C., Sunday to protest a proposed pipeline, a hundred or so area residents added their voices to the call.


Activists Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline in Austin, Texas – Video (Austin IndyMedia)

Some 200 environmental activists gathered in front of Whole Foods to show their support for the Tar Sands Blockade and to raise climate change awareness in Austin, Texas.


Edmonton Protesters Show Solidarity with U.S. Pipeline Protest (Edmonton Journal) 

Dozens of protesters gathered in Churchill Square Sunday afternoon in solidarity with Washington, D.C. protests against the Keystone XL pipeline.