* Activists want Obama to reject pipeline for Canadian crude
* Demonstration was smaller than rallies last year
* Organizers promise big protest on Feb. 18
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Nov 18 Hundreds of people who say
they worry oil that would be carried the Keystone XL pipeline
will accelerate climate change marched around the White House on
Sunday, hoping to revive a movement credited with slowing down
the permit process for the crude oil project.
The protesters changed "Hey, Obama! We don't want no climate
drama" and said they hope President Barack Obama's
election-night promise to address climate change means he will
reject the pipeline. It needs a presidential permit to cross
into the United States from Canada.
"We're interested in sending a clear message to Obama," said
Molly Pugh from nearby Alexandria, Virginia, marching with her
husband and 2-year-old daughter, who rode in a stroller.
Pugh said she was deeply disappointed that Obama failed to
talk about climate change during the recent presidential
election campaign, addressing it only in his acceptance speech.
Sunday's protest drew far fewer people than a rally a year
ago against TransCanada Corp's project, when thousands
linked arms and encircled the White House.
Keith Bockus was at that protest, and hopes that Obama will
block the pipeline in his second term now that he no longer
faces the pressures of another election.
"I have five grandkids. I used to worry just about them.
Now, I worry about my son and daughter too," Bockus said,
explaining why took a red-eye bus from Hubbardston,
Massachusetts, to get to Sunday's event.
NO LONGER "RAG-TAG BUNCH OF KIDS"
Organizers said they were pleased by the crowds, which they
estimated at 3,000 people, particularly since they arranged the
protest only 10 days ago.
They said they are working on a larger protest set for
President's Day on Feb. 18.
"It's no longer sort of a rag-tag bunch of kids - it's the
very heart of the environmental movement," said Bill McKibben,
president of 350.org, who helped lead the protest.
McKibben and other environmentalists argue crude extracted
from the Canadian oil sands sends too much carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere. Pipeline proponents argue the project will
create thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on oil
imports from the Middle East.
The pipeline was designed to extend 1,661 miles (2,673 km)
from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Port Arthur, Texas, picking up
oil from the booming Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana
along the way.
Obama put the pipeline on hold in January, citing the need
to review environmental concerns with a portion of the route in
TransCanada changed its route and reapplied for the permit.
Nebraska's state government is expected to approve the new route
by the end of the year, and Keystone proponents have urged the
Obama administration to grant the permit soon afterward.
The State Department has said it does not anticipate
concluding its review of the project before the first quarter of
Analysts have said they think Obama eventually will approve
the pipeline but the timing of the decision is in question.
"I think if we can keep the pressure on, we have a chance,"
said Aimee Crane of Springfield, Virginia, helping carry a
500-foot inflatable replica of an oil pipeline down Pennsylvania
"It is David versus Goliath," she said, arms stretched high
above her head.