22 arrested, demanding Obama keep his promises on climate
June 18, 2013
Twenty-two environmental activists who staged a sit-in to protest the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring crude oil from Canada to the United States were arrested as part of a planned protest this morning outside the State Department offices in the Loop, police said.
About 8:30 a.m., a group of about 30 demonstrators from various environment groups gathered at the Metcalfe Federal Building at 77 W. Jackson Blvd., which also houses the State Department, police said. Chicago police said 12 women and 10 men were arrested and cited with criminal trespass for blocking the entryway to the building. No one was hurt and the protest was peaceful, police said.
President Barack Obama is under pressure from environmental groups to veto the northern section of the proposed $5.3 billion pipeline, which would take crude from the Alberta tar sands in Western Canada to refineries in Texas.
Obama is expected to make a decision on the pipeline late this year. The southern half of the pipeline, from Texas to Oklahoma, is more than halfway built. The northern section needs State Department approval because it crosses an international border.
Environmentalists say the pipeline will speed up development of the oil sands, where extracting crude from the oil-rich bitumen uses much more energy than does regular oil production.
One of those arrested was 33-year-old Elijah Zarlin, a senior campaign manager for CREDO, one of the groups that organized today’s event. When asked what is wrong with the proposed pipeline, he said: “Everything.”
But Zarlin, of Oakland, Calif., said his group’s biggest issue is that the pipeline will lead to the production of tar sands, which he calls “one of the biggest pools of carbon on the planet,” and will essentially lead to “environmental devastation.”
Spillage of diluted bitumin, which Zarlin described as a “toxic substance” is also a concern, he said.
“This was the first action, our pledge of resistance against Keystone XL,” Zarlin said. “So far over 62,000 people have pledged to commit peaceful and dignified civil disobedience as we did today.”
Zarlin, who said he worked on Obama’s campaign in 2008 at their Chicago headquarters, was cited with trespassing and is scheduled to appear in court in Chicago in next month.
"I certainly never thought that I would have to come back to be arrested in order to send him the message that he needs to make good on the commitments he made … on climate change."