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Anti-Keystone XL protests losing steam

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Attendance at protests against the Keystone XL pipeline appears to be in decline, despite warmer weather.

As part of the “Summer Heat” campaign to challenge the fossil fuel industry and hold President Barack Obama to his promise to address global warming, activists marched Saturday on Washington, D.C. This time, however, only a handful of protesters showed up, compared to the 35,000 protesters that came to town in February.

The “Rally for Independence from Fossil Fuels” began Saturday morning with about 70 people, according to sources who were present. That number grew to about 200 protesters around 11:30 a.m.

One activist tweeted that the number of protesters peaked at 500, significantly below the 35,000 present in February.

Some protesters carried anti-capitalist signs. One such sign read “Capitalism is killing the planet.”

On Friday, 55 protesters were arrested outside the offices of Environmental Resources Management, the company hired by the State Department to conduct environmental impact on the Keystone pipeline.

ERM’s analysis of the pipeline found that it would not significantly impact the environment or contribute to global warming, which angered environmentalists. President Obama said that the project should be not be approved if it added significantly to U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

“We fully expect that Secretary Kerry and President Obama will clean up this mess and reset the process on the State Department’s review of KXL,” said Daniel Kessler of 350.org. “It’s no surprise that ERM found that Keystone will not have an adverse environmental impact when it stands to gain from its construction. This isn’t how government is supposed to work.”

“Our hope is that this summer will be a historic show of solidarity not just with the Americans who suffer most from the fossil fuel industry, but with the people across the planet whose lives are at risk as the world warms — and indeed with the planet itself, beleaguered but still so worth fighting for,” wrote environmentalist Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke, Sandra Steingraber and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

According to activists, the last two weeks of July is statistically the hottest stretch of the year.

“In a touch of irony, the protest came on one of July’s most pleasant days, one distinguished by below-normal temperatures and uncommonly low humidity,” The Washington Post reported.

“If only the protesters would have used more carbon based fuels instead of walking, perhaps the turnout would have been more impressive,” said Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot. “The Gore Effect has struck these poor hapless protesters twice — back in January and now again in July.”

Organizers used more than 130 buses used to bring in thousands of protesters to march on the White House in February.

Rallies also took place in Portland, Ore., and Brayton Point, Mass.

The Obama administration is expected to make a decision about the pipeline later this summer.

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