Pipeline protesters to ‘occupy’ Ronald Reagan Building

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The same protesters who staged a lengthy protest outside the White House in August against the Keystone XL pipeline are planning to “occupy” a building in Washington, D.C., Thursday evening.

Energy Action Coalition co-chair Maura Cowley told The Daily Caller the liberal group views protesters from “Occupy Wall Street” as allies and so she and about 45 others will “occupy” the Ronald Reagan Building on 14th Street in Washington, D.C.

“We at Energy Action Coalition are excited to see what’s happening with Occupy Wall Street right now,” she said. “We think that our analysis is the same as theirs and that’s that corporations, with a sole of motive of profit, are making millions and millions and billions of dollars and letting the American people suffer and that our economy is suffering, our environment is suffering, our health care is skyrocketing because of the practices of corporations.”

“In recent months, we’ve had more than 1,000 people get arrested in front of the White House and that was the largest act of civil disobedience in the U.S. this century prior to the Occupy Wall Street,” Cowley continued. “We’re not Obama’s typical protesters — we’re young people who are working on an environmental issue and so we’re kind of making sure that he knows that his supporters, his potential supporters, are really looking at him and judging him on this issue.”

The group will be sleeping outside the building, she said, to encourage “everyday people” to attend a State Department hearing Friday morning about the Keystone XL pipeline approval process.

“We’re camping out to make sure everyday people from along the pipeline corridor are able to get into the State Department hearing in the morning,” she said, adding that she thinks conservative groups and lobbyists have “paid” people to stand in line to keep liberal activists like herself out of hearings — a limited number of people get into hearings due to time and space restrictions.

Cowley said the group’s ultimate goal is to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being built. “Right now, we can create millions of new jobs in a clean energy economy but what we see with the potential expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline is the kind of same old dirty business and dirty economy,” she said. “We don’t want the pipeline to be built.”

If the pipeline isn’t built in the United States, the oil from Canada’s tar sands will likely end up being shipped to China and used there. “Well, [the Canadian oil being shipped to China] is what’s going to happen with the oil anyway,” Cowley said.

National Petrochemical and Refiners Association President Charles Drevna told TheDC that, despite all the environmentalists’ hullaballoo, the pipeline is safe and will create jobs in the United States. Drevna’s organization points to a State Department study showing the pipeline, and the oil it would transport, pose much less of a threat to the environment than most other energy sources. (RELATED: Organizer admits to paying ‘Occupy DC’ protesters [VIDEO])

“The Keystone XL pipeline is a safe and environmentally sound project that will provide tremendous benefits to the United States, bringing our nation an abundant supply of oil from our closest friend and ally Canada,” Drevna said in an email. “It will create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and strengthen our economic and national security.”

“If Keystone XL is not built, Canada will send its oil across the Pacific to China, resulting in economic benefit to the Chinese rather than to our own country,” Drevna adds.

Cowley said she thinks that all of the oil refined in Houston, Texas, the pipeline’s destination, will be shipped out of the country. The NPRA, however, points to an Obama administration Energy Department document that suggests that the pipeline would actually offset ongoing decreases in Venezuelan and Mexican oil imports.

Cowley also claims that the pipeline would “skyrocket” gasoline prices for citizens of the U.S. Midwest. According to the Energy Department, that’s not true either. In the same document disproving the theory that oil would be exported from the U.S. after being refined, the Energy Department clearly stated: “These pipeline projects would not increase gasoline prices to Midwest consumers.”

Even though “renewable energy” and “green jobs” initiatives from President Barack Obama’s administration have stumbled recently, most notably with the downfall of solar panel producer Solyndra, Cowley said the group supports them and thinks they’ll work.

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