By Jon Queally, Common Dreams
In response to key developments related to the Keystone XL pipeline in recent days, climate activists across the U.S. have scheduled local rallies nationwide for Tuesday which they say are "critical" as a final White House determination on the project seems closer than ever.
An action alert from 350.org that went out to its members late Monday said their years-long campaign against Keystone "has been sustained by action in the streets and now we need to show that we still stand strong against this climate disaster of a project."
On Monday night, a bill that would override presidential authority on the project moved forward in the U.S. Senate after a 63-32 cloture vote set the stage for final debate on the bill. A final vote for passage is now expected on Friday. Though there were enough votes to approve cloture, it remains unclear if the Senate can garner enough support for the bill to override a veto by President Obama, which he has vowed to do if the bill hits his desk.
Along with every Republican, 10 Democrats and one independent, Sen. Angus King (Maine), voted in favor of moving the Senate bill forward. Those Democrats included Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark Warner (Va.). A final vote is expected later this week.
On Friday of last week, a court decision in Nebraska paved the way for the State Department to make its final assessment on the pipeline. And now, with the intentions of the Republican-controlled Congress clear and all other statutory hurdles seemingly lifted, the message to Obama from all sides appears to be: Enough. Make a decision.
"For months, President Obama has said he was waiting on the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide on the route of the pipeline to make his final decision," said 350.org's Sara Shor. "The Court allowed the route to stand, and so it's up to President Obama to take action where they wouldn't."
Tuesday's anti-pipeline rallies are also being sponsored by CREDO Action, the Indigenous Environmental Network, MoveOn.org, Oil Change International, Rainforest Action Network, and the Sierra Club.
In a message urging its members to attend, Sierra Club said, "President Obama has all of the information he needs to reject KXL, and so we're coming together in communities from coast to coast on January 13 to send a clear message: It's time to reject Keystone XL once and for all!"