Liberal Activists to Protest Job-Creating Oil Pipeline

By Susan Jones | June 23, 2011 | 10:45am EDT

(Map from TransCanada Web site)

( - Actor Danny Glover, a perennial protester, plans to march with other liberal activists outside the White House in the summer heat to protest a proposed oil pipeline that would bring crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries in Texas, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process.

TransCanada says its proposed Keystone XL pipeline will give the U.S. a consistent and reliable supply of oil -- supplying roughly half the amount of oil the U.S. currently imports from the Middle East and Venezuela -- once it's completed.

Because the proposed pipeline would cross the international border near Morgan, Montana, a presidential permit issued by the U.S. State Department is required for the project to proceed. Glover and his fellow celebrity-environmentalist protesters want the Obama administration to deny TransCanada a permit.

In an open letter obtained by, Glover is urging Americans to join him: "[W]e want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested."

The protest will take place each day from mid-August through Labor Day, and it must be peaceful and "dignified, organizers insist. They describe the proposed pipeline as “a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent.”

Other, smaller protests already have taken place in Nebraska and in other places where the proposed pipeline extension would run.

"Winning this battle won’t save the climate," the letter says. "But losing it will mean the chances of runaway climate change go way up — that we’ll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we’ve seen this year. And we’re fighting for the political future too — for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection. You have to start somewhere, and this is where we choose to begin."

Among other concerns, protesters mention oil leaks.

TransCanada's existing 1,300-mile pipeline, which runs from Canada to Oklahoma, recently experienced two leaks, one at a North Dakota pumping station involving ten barrels of oil, and one in Kansas involving 400 barrels.

TransCanada voluntarily shut down the pipeline following both leaks, and since then, it says it has modified or replaced "all appropriate fittings" at pumping stations in the U.S. and Canada.

"TransCanada takes all incidents very seriously," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer in a June 5 news release. "Almost all of the oil releases over the last 11 months on Keystone have been minor - averaging just five to 10 gallons of oil.  The vast majority of that oil was confined to our property and in all cases was cleaned up quickly.  None of the incidents involved the pipe in the ground - the integrity of Keystone is sound."

TransCanada says in each incident, it monitoring system functioned as designed and detected a pressure drop on the pipeline quickly.  The company says it was able to remotely close valves in the pipeline, shutting down the entire system within minutes and stopping the flow of oil. "The company's safety processes worked as they were planned to," TransCanada says.

TransCanada says its planned pipline extension will create 20,000 high-paying jobs for American families and inject $20 billion into the U.S. economy.

See Earlier Story:
Canada Pipeline Is Critical to U.S. Energy Security, Oil Industry Says

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