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Green Groups Threaten Election Payback Over Keystone Fight

Founder of Bold Nebraska: 'If I was candidate on wrong side of this issue, I'd be worried'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Leading environmentalists are threatening mass voter retribution if President Barack Obama decides to go forward with the construction of the northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Days following the release of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), The Hill reports Tuesday that, based on conversations with leading campaigners, approval of the project will likely “sow liberal discontent” among a new, mobilized force of environmentalists with serious consequences for Democratic lawmakers in the 2014 midterm elections.

“It is very likely that there will be negative consequences for Democrats if Keystone were approved,” said Kate Colarulli, associate director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign, told The Hill.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to protect the climate and build the Democratic base if Obama rejects Keystone XL,” Colarulli added.

The Hill continues:

Jamie Henn of the green group called the dispute over Keystone “the most iconic fight of a generation” and said the youth vote, which played an important part in Obama’s rise, could hang in the balance.

“A Keystone XL approval will turn a lot of people off from the process, and they will get involved in action that could be disruptive,” Henn said.

Echoing that threat, Jane Kleeb, founder of the Keystone XL protest group Bold Nebraska, tweeted:

The uproar over the pending approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has catalyzed the environmental movement like no other current issue.

Monday evening an estimated 8,000 people participated in over 275 protest vigils across the country. Photos from a number of the actions can be seen here.

Further, over 75,000 people have signed the Credo Mobile Pledge of Resistance promising to participate in acts of peaceful civil disobedience in protest of the pipeline.

On the local level, farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who oppose the pipeline are planning to run for seats on a state board that regulates power stations that are needed along the project route, AP reports.

With the prospect of splitting the country's liberal core, approval of the pipeline has caught the attention of many outside of the debate.

“If he approves the pipeline, the number of people protesting Keystone outside the Beltway could increase by a hundredfold or more,” said Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, adding that this could significantly "muddle" the message of the Democratic party.

Following the release of the environmental analysis, a 90-day inter-agency review weighing the national interest of the project begins as the State Department opens up to a 30-day public comment period.


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