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Sunday November 06, 2011 | 12:04 PM

Groups of Mainers arrived in Washington today to participate in a demonstration at the White House against a proposed oil pipeline that would stretch from Alberta to Texas.

Environmental activist Andy Burt of Edgcomb, said about 100 Mainers – including groups from Unity College and College of the Atlantic and Colby College – rode in overnight on two buses to join in the protest this afternoon where opponents plan to circle the White House as they urge President Obama to reject the proposed TransCanada pipeline. Burt, a consultant on climate change and energy to several Maine organizations, including Maine Council of Churches, helped organize the buses.

The State Department is preparing recommendations by the end of the year over whether the federal government should allow the pipeline, which would transport so-called tar sands oil, to go forward. But Obama indicated in a recent interview with a Nebraska TV station they he would make the final decision, and suggested he would weigh environmental and health and safety considerations along with the economic benefits and thousands of jobs pipeline proponents say would be created.

Burt, who along with several other Mainers was arrested in August in front of the White House during a previous round of pipeline protests, said the Sierra Club also played a role in organizing the trip to Washington.

Opponents say the Keystone XL pipeline could result in environmentally disastrous spills across its path, and say that tar sands oil has a higher level of carbon dioxide than other types of oil.

Burt said the anti-pipeline demonstrators want Obama to remember the campaign promises he made in 2008 to work on climate change issues.

“What we want him to take away from this is that we are the base that worked hard to elect him and we want him to know that we are holding him to his words and that we are encouraging him to stand tall and make the decision not to go forward with the pipeline,” Burt said.

Burt said she has seen other Mainers in D.C. today for the demonstration, including a van load from Bates College.


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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