Just one day after President Barack Obama announced initiatives to combat climate change in his State of the Union speech, protesters descended upon the White House to urge the U.S. government to turn down the contested Keystone XL pipeline.
A number of people, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his son, 18-year-old Conor Kennedy (known as singer Taylor Swift’s ex), were arrested on February 13 and charged with “failure to disperse and obey lawful orders,” The New York Times reported. Also arrested was actress Darryl Hannah, who has been arrested at least twice before over this issue, and civil rights activist Julian Bond. In all, 47 people were rounded up and later released on $100 bond each, the Times said.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, prominent climate scientist James Hansen, and outspoken climate change activist Bill McKibben were also arrested, The New York Times reported. They, Kennedy Jr., Hannah and Bond zip-tied themselves to the White House fence in defiance of police orders that they leave.
The protest was organized by the Sierra Club, the first time its board had authorized civil disobedience in its 120-year history, according to a statement on the group’s site.
Obama has appointed John Kerry as secretary of state, heading the department that has the ultimate say in whether the XL portion of Keystone gets built, because it traverses international lines. In his State of the Union speech, though, Obama emphasized energy independence as the way to combat climate change. This has also been the buzzword for those in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.