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UPDATE: Sunday protest could tip the political balance against the KXL pipeline

I’m in Washington, DC this evening thinking how wonderful it would be if US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech – in which he said, “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change…” – was his signal that he will refuse to permit the Keystone XL pipeline, the 830,000 barrel a day tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

We’ll see. In the meantime, it would seem certain at least that both the Canadian embassy in Washington and the White House will be watching tomorrow’s protest against the pipeline.

The Financial Post reports, “It will be a lively President’s Day long weekend for the folks here at the Canadian embassy. As many as 20,000 environmental activists are expected to march on the White House on Sunday to demand the death of Keystone XL, and embassy staff plan to be on the sidelines to hear what’s said up the street on Pennsylvania Avenue and do their own count of the protesters.” And the Globe and Mail notes, “On Sunday, the White House will be watching. Officials will not just be counting crowds assembled on the Mall and marching to within sight of the Oval Office, but also seeing whether the protest galvanizes national media coverage.”

The protest will start at 12 noon tomorrow on The Mall, a six-block long park in downtown Washington, just south-east of the White House. Just one block north of the eastern tip of The Mall sits the Canadian embassy at Pennsylvania Avenue and 4th Street. Later tomorrow afternoon, a human pipeline will form on 15th Street, which borders the Washington Monument on the western end of The Mall and which extends north past the White House. It should be quite a sight.

And it could have quite the impact. Paul Koring, the Washington correspondent for the Globe and Mail, goes as far to comment that, “If organizers really can deliver that many people to decry efforts to build a pipeline to funnel Alberta oil sands crude – heavy with carbon blamed for climate change – to Gulf oil refineries, then the political balance could tip against Keystone.”

Let’s hope so.