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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Some 200 people staged a sit-in outside the U.S. State Department Monday, demanding that President Barack Obama stop the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

Activists from environmental groups and civil society organizations held placards and shouted:”President Obama, stop the pipeline!”

The proposal under debate pertains to construction of a 1,179-mile portion stretching from Alberta to Nebraska.

Opponents of the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to coastal Texas, say its environmental risks outweigh economic benefits, citing the impact on climate change and the potential for groundwater pollution should the pipeline break.

“We expect to see here what we have been seeing all across the country which is citizens coming in, sitting in, risking arrests to urge the State Department and President Obama to finally reject the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Elijah Zarlin, one of the sit-in’s organizers, told AFP.

The protest was held without incident.

President Obama expressed doubts about Keystone XL last month, saying it would create only 50 permanent American jobs.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner, however, has said the project would create tens of thousands of jobs.

The pipeline requires the president’s approval because it crosses the US border.

Obama has previously put off a decision on the pipeline, waiting for the results of a study on the pipeline’s environmental impact.

During a talk on climate change on June 25, Obama said that the pipeline should go forward “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

Supporters of Keystone XL insist that it would have a negligible impact on the environment.

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President Joe Biden

Photo by The White House

Two tiresome realities about being president of the United States: first, everybody blames you for things over which you have little or no control: such as the worldwide price of oil, and international shipping schedules. Should there be too few electronic gee-gaws on store shelves to pacify American teenagers this Christmas, it will be Joe Biden’s fault.

Second, everybody gives you advice, whether you ask for it or not. Everywhere you look, Democrats and Democratically-inclined pundits are tempted to panic. “The cold reality for Biden,” writes New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait “is that his presidency is on the brink of failure.” A return to Trumpism, and essentially the end of American democracy, strikes Chait as altogether likely.

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