More than 200 protesters gathered Sunday in Chicago’s Grant Park in opposition of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The protest coincides with a nationwide effort to ask President Barack Obama to deny permits to TransCanada, the oil company behind the pipeline. Thousands more marched in Washington D.C.
The Chicago demonstrators, holding signs that said messages like “build communities not pipelines” and “do it for the kids,” said the environmental damage that would come from the pipeline posed a threat to the entire nation and the administration should instead be focusing on renewable energy.
“Obama rejecting the Keystone pipeline is only the first step toward a just and sustainable future,” one protester said. “We in Chicago will do everything in our power to stop this $7 billion project from moving forward and pushing our fight 10 steps back.”
The group of concerned citizens heard from various speakers as they gathered in Grant Park, many of whom talked about the negative effects of hydraulic fracturing, citing many of the water issues experienced in areas currently “fracking.”
Others talked about the oil industry and the negative impacts the specific pipeline would have in the area before the group began marching from Grant Park to the U.S. Department of State’s Chicago offices.
Environmentalists and activists have long opposed TransCanada's construction of the $7 billion pipeline, which is designed to transport heavy tar-sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.
Pipeline opponents argue the project is unsafe because it would be carrying heavy, acidic crude oil that could more easily corrode a metal pipe, which would lead to a spill. They also say refining the oil would further contaminate the air in a region that has long struggled with pollution.
TransCanada says its pipeline would be the safest ever built, and that the crude is no dirtier than oil currently arriving from Venezuela or parts of California.
The company began construction of that portion of the pipeline this summer after receiving the necessary permits. Some Texas landowners, joined by activists, have tried through various protests to stop or slow down construction.
Supporters, however, say the project would create jobs and provide America with a local supply of oil.