Activists Stage Sit-In During Keystone XL Pipeline Protest

As the decision to possibly allow the construction of the project nears, more 'civil disobedience' is happening throughout Massachusetts.

Dozens of people risked arrest on Monday morning as they protested outside of a federal building in Boston, rallying against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Holding signs like “Shutdown the Pipeline, Not the Government,” and carrying a 100-foot-long replica of a crude-oil pipeline, members of several pro-environmental safety groups called on Secretary of State John Kerry to use his political pull to say “no” to allowing the massive pipeline to be built, which would run from Canada through the United States. Officials from the State Department are in the midst of compiling additional information about the potential environmental impacts the pipeline could have, and whether or not the construction is in the interest of the U.S.

But as the debates continue at a federal level, protesters have remained vigilant in opposing the pipeline.

“We know that our best chance to defeat Keystone XL is to keep sending the message that—as the Washington Post reported yesterday—the ‘president will face a revolt from his political base should he sign off on the pipeline,’” protesters wrote in a statement prior to the event.

Opponents have raised concerns about potential pipeline bursts or spills into drinking water sources and onto farmland, as well as the how fossil fuel could increase global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that this pipeline could add an additional 27 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2018, which is equivalent to putting an additional 4.8 million cars on the road, according to their report.

However, those in favor of the project claim the pipeline would create jobs and allow for more efficient transports of the tar sands oil.

Protesters showed up for the “very peaceful, non-violent action” outside the Tip O’Neill Federal Building on Causeway Street. The gathering was one of several countrywide protests organized Monday in a continuation of rallies that have unfolded this year in opposition of the Keystone XL Pipeline construction.

Last week, eight college students who chained and super-glued themselves together in January inside the offices of TransCanada, the company heading the construction of the pipeline, asked the public to help them raise money to pay for legal fees following their arrest. During their meet-up, the group, known as the Westborough 8, had one of the most notorious climate change activist backing them up: Tim DeChristopher, once called “America’s most creative climate criminal.”

DeChristopher met with the Westborough 8, a mixed-group of protesters from Boston University, Brandies, Harvard, and other area schools that took action, and created a blockade inside the local corporate offices of TransCanada to “reflect on the role of civil disobedience” in the climate justice movement.

DeChristopher made national headlines in 2008, at the age of 27, when he disrupted the sale of oil and gas leases on 22,000 acres of public land by bidding millions of dollars he didn’t have at a federal auction in Salt Lake City. The stunt earned DeChristopher notoriety and two years behind bars.

In April, he was released from jail, and moved to Cambridge, where he is pursuing his goal of becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister and studying at the Harvard Divinity School.

DeChristopher’s fundraiser and movement-building event with the Westborough 8 last week was an effort to collect roughly $5,000 to offset the legal costs that the group incurred following their arrest back in January for their “peaceful protests” at the Massachusetts TransCanada office. Following their meeting last week, the group surpassed that goal.