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US: thousands protest at White House against Keystone pipeline

 Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest to demand a stop to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline outside the White House ...

Washington Pipeline Protest

Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest to demand a stop to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline outside the White House ...

Thousands of protesters rallied outside the White House on Sunday to press US President Barack Obama to scrap plans for a multi-billion-dollar oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas.

Washington has launched consultations on the 1,700-mile (2,700-kilometer) Keystone XL pipeline which would run from the tar sands of the Canadian province of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States.

Many environmentalists fear a potential pipeline accident would spell disaster for aquifers in central US Great Plains states. That could disproportionately endanger rural towns and Native Americans, they say.

Thousands of demonstrators, including Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo and 1997 Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams, crammed Lafayette Square opposite the White House, as Obama was out playing golf.

Hundreds protested in vibrant orange vests reading Stop Keystone XL, while others waved signs with slogans such as “We believe in a better way -- if it doesn't involve tar sands” and “Pipeline to the Apocalypse.”

The Keystone XL pipeline proposed by TransCanada would begin in Alberta in western Canada and pass through the US states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before ending up at refineries in Texas.

A number of environmental and citizen groups are fighting the pipeline because exploiting the unconventional oil sands of Alberta requires energy that produces a large volume of greenhouse gases.

Concerns about potential for an environmental disaster seem to be heightened on the heels of last year's devastating BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Keystone decision poses a political dilemma for Obama. His decision will inevitably anger one of his constituencies -- either the unions supporting the project or environmentalists and others opposing it.

AFP