Organizers of Sunday’s “Forward on Climate” rally and march claim the estimated 35,000 activists who descended on Washington, D.C., to demand the Obama administration take action on the critical issue of global warming constitute the largest turnout ever for a climate rally.
Carrying signs and chanting slogans such as “Hey, Obama—we don’t want no climate drama” and “Keystone pipeline? Shut it down,” demonstrators staged a rally at the National Mall before marching to the White House and calling on the president to block the construction of TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.
Speakers at the event portrayed the battle of the pipeline project as a struggle between grass-roots environmental organizations and wealthy special interest groups.
“They’ve got the lobbyists. They’ve got the super PACs. They made the campaign contributions. They’ve got this town in their pockets—they have got the situation under control,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told the crowd. “And then you show up. And then we show up. And we change the game.”
The rally came just days after a bipartisan group of senators called on the president to approve the $5.3 billion pipeline.
“His heart is there,” former Obama adviser Van Jones told The Hill about the president. “The question is can we change the politics enough so he can do what he knows is right. And I believe that he will.”
The politics surrounding the project are formidable.
Blocking Keystone would play into Republican assertions that the president is scuttling a project that could enhance energy security and create thousands of jobs to appease environmental supporters. They have pressed the White House to green-light the pipeline.
Oil-and-gas groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, have helped lead a lobbying effort to get Keystone built.
...Obama also has his own base to consider, as several union groups are eager for the jobs Keystone would bring to their members. The AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades division has endorsed the pipeline, and that department’s leader expects the full labor federation to lend its support.