TransCanada pipeline protesters arrested on White House sidewalk

TransCanada Corp.’s proposed oil pipeline from Canada drew protesters to the White House for a third day, with police arresting about 50 demonstrators who urged President Barack Obama to reject the project.

Environmental organizations such as and Rainforest Action Group oppose TransCanada’s Keystone XL, citing dangers of a leak along the pipeline route through six states and concerns that producing the Canadian oil by turning tar-like, bitumen- soaked sand into liquid may be more polluting than getting oil from other reservoirs.

“I don’t think big oil, or any company like this, can come through and put us at risk,” said Lori Fisher, 54, owner of a photography studio in Shelby, Nebraska, one of the states the pipeline will cross. “Obama needs to push alternative energy and promote that.”

The pipeline would deliver 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf of Mexico refineries through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The protests, which began on Aug. 20 and led to 110 arrests in the first two days, will continue until Sept. 3, according to spokeswoman Jane Kleeb.

The demonstrators were on the sidewalk outside the White House shouting “Keystone Pipeline – No” and “Tar Sands – No”

They were arrested for failing to remain in motion on the sidewalk, said David Schlosser, a U.S. Park Police spokesman.

The pipeline might pollute 450 miles of rivers that provide drinking water in the U.S. Midwest, according to a University of Nebraska study released on July 11.

The State Department, which has to approve the pipeline because it crosses international borders, repeatedly said it expects to make final decision by the end of the year.

TransCanada has agreements with about 85 percent of the landowners along the route, said Terry Cunha, a spokesman.

“The real issue here is that the U.S. needs crude oil,” Cunha said in an e-mail. The U.S. “must make a decision: import conflict-free crude oil from Canada or import it from repressive regimes like the Middle East or Libya. That is the issue.”