WASHINGTON -- Progressives fighting to stop the construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline found a new outlet for their message this week with the launch of a national ad campaign pushing President Obama to halt "a crime in progress." Paid for by advocacy group Tar Sands Action, the ad will run in The New York Times and Washington Post print editions, as well as a handful of online publications including Politico and CNN.com.
At issue is whether the president will approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. The State Department, which has purview over any infrastructure projects that cross a U.S. border, recently completed a round of public hearings in states along the proposed pipeline route.
But advocates are alleging the review process is tilted in favor of TransCanada, highlighting cozy emails between TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliot and department officials.
The ad campaign comes on the heels of reports that recent Obama campaign hire Broderick Johnson, who will serve as a top adviser, formerly lobbied on behalf of the Keystone XL, according to lobbying disclosure records for the fourth quarter of 2010.
In their full-page ad, advocates seek to draw attention to such questionable connections.
A final decision from the Obama administration on the Keystone XL oil pipeline is expected before the end of the year.
"The President is at a major crossroads in his presidency," said Bill McKibben, a leader in the protests against the pipeline. "The Keystone XL pipeline was pushed through by the worst kind of political cronyism, exactly the kind of thing President Obama promised to stamp out in Washington. The American people deserve better."
President Obama, in San Francisco for a fundraiser on Tuesday, can expect to face hundreds of protesters voicing opposition to the Keystone XL in a demonstration organized by CREDO Action. A larger, final protest is planned for outside the White House on Nov. 6.
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