54 activists from the group 350.org were arrested Friday after blockading the elevator and office entrances of the Environmental Resources Management Office in DC.
The direct action comes as part of a series of protests kicking off this week dubbed #SummerHeat in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and its looming consequences for our planet.
Acorrding to 350.org, a group of activists blocking ERM’s office door used “lock-boxes," which physically attached the individuals to one another, making it difficult for police to remove the protestors.
Police began arrests Friday afternoon, eventually arresting 54 who were brought out of the building one-by-one while a large group of protesters chanted outside.
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As investigative journalist Steven Horn uncovered recently, ERM, the lead consultant contracted by the State Department to assess the environmental impacts of the tar sands pipeline, has deep ties to Canada's tar sands industry.
Horn's recent reporting revealed that ERM had lied on a June 2012 conflict-of interest filing when it checked a box saying it had no current business ties to TransCanada.
"In fact," Horn wrote, "ERM—a member of the American Petroleum Institute (API), which has spent over $22 million lobbying on tar sands and Keystone XL since 2008—does maintain business ties to TransCanada... This includes an ongoing consulting relationship with South Central LNG, co-owned by TransCanada, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips."
"Activists have occupied ERM’s office building in an effort to expose ERM’s corruption and conflicts of interest in having contractual relationships with Big Oil," 350.org said in a press release. "They are demanding that the State Department’s final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) of Keystone XL be fair, balanced, and free from the influence of the fossil fuel industry."