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POLITICS: PennAve

Keystone protesters sound off at Obama healthcare speech

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Barack Obama,PennAve,Keystone XL,Energy and Environment,Zack Colman

Health care has taken up so much of President Obama's time in recent weeks that even Keystone XL pipeline protesters can't get a word in.

A group of activists who oppose the proposed Canada-to-Texas oil sands project heckled the president Wednesday during a health care speech in Boston.

The protesters, who shouted, "Mr. President, Reject Keystone XL! Stop Climate Change! For our generation, stop the pipeline," were associated with climate activist organization 350.org, the group said in a statement.

Obama was quick on the draw, staying on point as his administration defends against Republican attacks on a slew of issues hampering the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

“That is the wrong rally,” Obama quipped. “We had the climate change rally back in the summer.”

The Keystone protesters were escorted out of the event, according to press reports. Another group of protesters tried to interject again later in the speech, but were rounded up quickly by security.

The incident comes after the chief of TransCanada, the Canadian firm building the cross-border Keystone pipeline, called the lengthy permitting process a “circus.”

Russ Girling, in a Wednesday interview with Politico, said that he's confident Obama would eventually approve the controversial project.

It's been stuck in administrative purgatory at the State Department, which is reviewing comments on a draft environmental report.

The agency hasn’t set a timeline for completing a final version of that analysis, which will be used to determine whether completing Keystone is in the national interest.

Girling told Politico he doesn't expect much to change between the draft and final environmental reviews. The draft said Keystone wouldn't significantly raise carbon emissions because rail and other pipelines would bring the oil from Canada's tar sands to market regardless.

Obama said in his June climate change speech that he would oppose Keystone if it “significantly exacerbated” carbon emissions.

Democratic detractors, left wing groups and environmental organizations say Keystone would do just that by facilitating more production of Canada’s oil sands, which are a dense, carbon-rich form of crude.

They say the draft State report was flawed, charging that the contractor that performed it had a conflict of interest because it previously did work for TransCanada. State’s internal watchdog is looking into those claims.

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Zack Colman

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner