A tall, slim man with a gray ponytail pedaled his bicycle toward the protesters. He had an idea.
“Let’s start chanting ‘plug not pipe!’” he told the crowd. “Just say no to big oil, right on!”
About 60 protesters from various Gainesville organizations united in protest on Bo Diddley Community Plaza Monday, calling for President Barack Obama to stop the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
If granted Presidential Permit, energy company TransCanada will install 875 miles of a pipeline that would transport about 830,000 barrels of oil per day spanning from the U.S./Canada border in Montana to Steele City, Neb., according to a State Department statement.
The statement concluded the proposed pipeline will not significantly add to greenhouse emissions.
But activism organization CREDO organized several groups to participate in a national day of action.
Karen Epple, a local council organizer for MoveOn.org, gathered the Gainesville protest. She said downplaying climate change and the environmental damage the pipeline could cause is similar to publicity tactics used by tobacco companies.
“Basically this is like the cancer of the world,” Epple said.
UF anthropology graduate student Christina Callicott brought vigil candles for the event. She said the pipeline will permanently harm the environment instead of creating permanent jobs.
“It’s an issue of human rights because climate change is affecting people all over the world,” she said.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/4/2014 under the headline "Locals unite in protest of Keystone XL Pipeline"]