One of the nation's foremost experts on climate change was arrested outside the White House on Monday morning after he joined a protest against a planned Canadian tar sands pipeline.
Dr. James Hansen (pictured), who runs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was arrested along with 139 other protesters taking part in a series of demonstrations against the planned $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 500,000 barrels of crude per day from America's neighbor to the north all the way to the Gulf coast of Texas.
So far, 521 activists have been arrested since their first protest on Saturday, Aug. 21. Also included in Monday's arrests were Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, president of CREDO Mobile Michael Kieschnick, 350.org Executive Director May Boeve and many others.
Hansen, a 44-year veteran of the nation's space agency, is perhaps the best-known climate scientist in the world. He was the center of a years-long controversy in the last decade, after he claimed that NASA had tried to censor his findings about earth's climate on behalf of the Bush administration. He's also the author of "Storms of My Grandchildren," a book that calls for radical action to combat climate change. He's also been arrested before, protesting against mountaintop mining.
A U.S. State Department environmental impact study released last week claimed the pipeline would have a minimal effect on the environment, and officials maintained that even if the U.S. refuses the pipeline, Canada will just sell their oil elsewhere.
Climate protesters preparing to be arrested on Monday. Photo credit: Josh Lopez, Tar Sands Action
Canadian tar sand is seen as a horribly inefficient form of hydrocarbon energy due to the separation process, which requires more energy than the finished product puts out. Production methods also put off 3-5 times more greenhouse emissions than typical oil production.
"If Obama chooses the dirty needle it will confirm that the President was just green-washing all along, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians, with no real intention of solving the addiction," Hansen said, according to an advisory.
Proponents argue that the pipeline would bring hundreds of new jobs to the U.S. and help the nation achieve greater energy independence.
President Obama has not issued a decision on the pipeline, but one is expected before the end of this year.
Hansen photo credit: Ben Powless, Tar Sands Action.