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Climate Activists Rally Country-Wide to Fight Keystone XL

Rallies held in all 50 states to urge President Barack Obama to reject construction of tar sands pipeline

Activists in Chicago braved freezing temperatures to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline bill currently making its way through Congress. (Photo: 350/flickr/cc)

Environmental activists rallied in all 50 states on Tuesday to protest the Keystone XL pipeline after the bill moved forward in Congress earlier this week.

Over 150 events were organized in less than 72 hours, according to Activists at a Washington D.C. rally delivered a 500,000-name petition to stop the pipeline to the White House, while many in other states gathered in the freezing cold outside of statehouses and federal buildings, waving signs and banners that read, "Climate Justice Now" and "Draw the Line on Keystone XL."

The rallies came together after a series of crucial developments over the past week. On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court paved the way for construction of a key portion of the tar sands pipeline in the state, and the bill to approve the project advanced on Monday after a 63-32 cloture vote in the Senate, with a final vote expected soon.

Monday's total count fell short of the 67 votes necessary to allow Congress the power to override President Barack Obama's promised veto, leaving the option open for him to put an end to the contentious project. On Tuesday, activists did not let him forget that.

"Obama has been saying for months, 'I’m going to wait for the Nebraska decision to come down to make my decision,' so we’ve just been waiting for that," 350 organizer Deirdre Shelly, who participated in the D.C. protest, told ThinkProgress on Tuesday. "Now, with that decision out of the way, he finally has all the room he needs to veto."

The message was carried across the country. Protesters in San Francisco, California chanted, "Hey Obama, stop the pipeline drama!" And during a rally in Portland, Oregon demonstrators hoisted a banner emblazoned with the president's own words, quoting a speech he made in 2007 as a senator: "We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake."

Photos of the rallies flooded Twitter under the hashtag #NoKXL.

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