Whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would be built to transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries and distribution centers in Texas and Illinois, is seen by many environmentalists as a definitive benchmark of whether the US is going to get serious about addressing climate change. Approval of the pipeline would be seen as a statement that, as a country, we are unwilling to move away from our dependence on climate destabilizing fossil fuels. Rejecting the pipeline would be seen as a statement that we are seeking to embrace a future built on clean energy.

Sure enough, Keystone legislation has now passed in the House and is expected to pass in the Senate, and activists are mobilizing. Protests are expected nationwide on Tuesday, January 13 in cities across America, including San Diego, Portland, and New York.

NYC’s protest will take place at 6:00 PM at Lincoln Center. The goal, as stated by organizer Pat Almonrode on Action Network’s website, is to “make sure that President Obama follows through on his promise to veto this climate-destroying project.” Demonstrators will gather on the sidewalk in front of the “theater on which David Koch – who stands to make billions from the further tar-sands development that KXL would enable – has plastered his name.”

Last week, when the White House announced Barack Obama’s intention to veto Keystone legislation were it to pass in newly Republican controlled Congress, environmentalists throughout the world rejoiced. Yet amid the celebration, leaders within the environmentalist movement immediately implored activists to remain vigilant, stating that the fight against Keystone XL is by no means over. As Bill McKibben wrote on his organization’s website:

Keystone’s not dead yet — feckless Democrats in the Congress could make some kind of deal, and the president could still yield down the road to the endlessly corrupt State Department bureaucracy that continues to push the pipeline — but the President’s veto threat shows what happens when people organize.

(Photo: tarsandaction)