An estimated 10,000 demonstrators gathered around the White House Sunday to protest plans for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.
Sunday's protest is the latest in a string of highly publicized demonstrations against the controversial project.
The proposed pipeline would connect Canada's oil tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico delivering crude oil derived from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.
The $7 billion project plans to run 17,00 miles of pipe spanning six states and passing right atop the Ogalla Aquifer which supplies drinking water for approximately 2 million people in the US heartland.
Gathering in Lafayette Square across from the White House some demonstrators carried an inflatable plastic tube symbolizing the pipeline while others chanted, “yes we can, stop the pipeline.”
The demonstration is the latest attempt by opponents of the project to call on both President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject the proposed pipeline and block its construction.
Besides their concerns about "Global Warming," many environmental groups along with the protesters fear that the pipeline would endanger the heath of many communities due to the increase of refinery emissions and the possibility of a spill diversely impacting groundwater for millions in the nation's heartland.
In a statement on Sunday, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said "President Obama can reignite the passion of Americans who care about clean air and clean water if he stands up for the health and livelihood of America's heartland, takes a stand against this climate catastrophe, and rejects this pipeline."
Brune also added, "Denying the Keystone XL permit will send a clear signal that the U.S. government recognizes our true 'national interest' before oil company profits."
Among the thousands of protesters were actor Mark Ruffalo, NASA scientist James Hansen and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner John Adams.
Map courtesy US Department of State
Proposed route of Keystone XL pipeline.
Speaking for TransCanada, spokesman James Millar said, in a statement as reported by the Asossiated Press, "the pipeline would help reduce American dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela while creating thousands of new construction and manufacturing jobs."
“Killing Keystone just leads to more of the same — hundreds of oil tankers shipping millions of barrels of higher priced oil across our oceans to American shores."
Due to the pipeline crossing an international border the decision to issue a permit rests with the State Department after it completes its review which is expected to conclude at the end of this year.
In a statement last week President Obama vowed to take final ownership of the decision after he receives the U.S. State Department recommendations.
In an interview with a Nebraska television station the President said, "My general attitude is, what's best for the American people? What is best for our economy both short term and long term, but also what is best for the health of the American people?"