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Policy: Environment & Energy

Environmentalists planning massive protest for Keystone XL pipeline

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Barack Obama,Ashe Schow,Keystone XL,Energy and Environment

An obscure radical environmentalist group opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline is planning a March 2 protest march to the White House "to prepare for civil disobedience."

XL Dissent, which describes itself as made up of campus-based environmental activists from around the country, will meet at Georgetown University.

The group apparently chose Georgetown as its meeting point because President Obama delivered a June 25 speech on global warming there.

Marchers will then march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

“Along the way, we will occupy intersections with symbolic oil spills, and bring a little bit of Keystone XL home to its backers in D.C.,” the group said in a digital letter inviting supporters to join them.

“When we get to the White House we will gather again to hear from people who are on the front lines of this fight, and prepare for civil disobedience.”

What kind of civil disobedience?

“[W]e will march to the fence of the White House and commit an act of peaceful civil disobedience — bringing a human oil spill to President Obama’s front door,” the group said in its letter.

XL Dissent said it was mindful of legal repercussions due to the protest and would not guarantee the safety of participants. The group also said it was working with the National Lawyers Guild for basic legal support and advice.

“Typically, anyone arrested in civil disobedience such as this get either a citation (like a traffic ticket), or a simple misdemeanor charge (such as trespass, or failure to disperse, or incommoding),” the group said.

“Those who are arrested are usually given an option called 'post and forfeit,' where they pay a small fine ($100), and the charges are dismissed,” the group said. “This is essentially like paying a parking ticket and is not considered a conviction.”

Because of the potential for police involvement, the group said it will not allow anyone under the age of 18 to participate.

XL Dissent said it has applied for permits to protest on the sidewalk in front of the White House and assured potential supporters that it doesn’t need permits to protest on the rest of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“As long as you are on the sidewalk in front of the White House and keep moving, you aren’t breaking any regulations,” the group said in its letter.

But XL Dissent appears already to have some protesters ready to be arrested.

“The protestors that are willing to risk arrest will disobey that requirement by refusing to move when we get to the White House fence,” the group said.

Further, XL Dissent will have a “support team” ready to deal with “inappropriate escalation (or confrontation from our opponents).”

The support team will seek to “direct energy to the more strategic, productive parts of the action,” according to the letter.

The group claims in a news release on its website that its plans have been endorsed by 350.org -- another radical environmentalist group that has organized demonstrations against the pipeline project.

The news release quotes 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who said it was “truly inspiring to see young people at the forefront” of the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.

McKibben's group has received at least 24 grants from liberal nonprofits since 2009 worth more than $1.6 million, according to FoundationSearch.

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