D.C.

Keystone XL Pipeline protesters wade into National Mall reflecting pool

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - As the Obama Administration seems to drag its feet over the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, protesters got their feet wet Thursday demonstrating their opposition to the proposed extension of the pipeline. The Cowboy And Indian Alliance has been holding rallies around Washington all week.

Wizipan Little Elk of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, left, and farmer Art Tanderup, hold a banner in the reflecting pool on the National Mall in Washington during a rally to protest the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Wizipan Little Elk, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, was nearly arrested for walking into the reflecting pool during a protest at the Lincoln Memorial.

“You know we're talking about basic human rights and there's not a better location in D.C. than here with the man behind us and what he represents,” he said.

He and Native Americans from across the country came to Washington to demonstrate. Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril L. Scott said, “This is the place you come to have your words heard by the people in [Congress.]”

Last week, President Obama extended until next year – after the mid-term elections – a deadline for his decision to approve or reject the pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Little Elk said, “More and more people are opposed. And the reason why is they're learning about the negative impacts it's going to have on our country.”

He risked arrest standing in the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool joined by Nebraska farmer Art Tanderup.

They held a sign that read, “Standing in the water could get me arrested. TransCanada pollutes drinking water & nothing happens." Together, the two men represent the group Cowboys and Indians.

Tanderup said, “We want to see our children and our grandchildren survive on the plains as our forefathers have done for many generations.”

But industry officials dispute the environmental concerns and claims made by these protesters. They say the project will create thousands of American jobs and allow for more energy independence.

Oil Sands Fact Check spokesperson Matt Dempsey said, “The overwhelming momentum is behind the construction of the Keystone XL. We have bipartisan support. Two polls showed about 70 percent of Americans support Keystone XL. So today's protest was about an extreme agenda – off all fossil fuels or opposed to oil, gas and coal – and that's just too extreme for this country.”

In the end, no one was arrested at the Lincoln Memorial, but the protesters marched to the National Mall where they set up an encampment earlier in the week.

On Friday, the protesters will hold a prayer vigil outside the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry. Then on Saturday, they will hold a march on the Mall.

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