Keystone protesters have message for Democrats

Keystone protest on Sen. Landrieu's yard
Keystone protest on Sen. Landrieu's yard

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    Keystone protest on Sen. Landrieu's yard

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Keystone protest on Sen. Landrieu's yard 00:38

Story highlights

  • Anti-Keystone protesters picketing on Landrieu's front yard could help Landrieu in Louisiana
  • Progressive activists at the protest said they weren't concerned about Landrieu's reelection prospects
  • They were also sending a broader message to Democrats considering pipeline support: Don't.
Environmental activists are willing to bring their qualms with their traditional ally the Democrats right to their front door -- literally.
Opponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline plopped an inflatable "pipeline" on Sen. Mary Landrieu's front yard on Monday -- and the Louisiana senator likely isn't complaining.
Landrieu is trying to push the pipeline through the Senate as she faces an uphill climb to hold on to her seat in a December runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. The pipeline could be a boon to Louisiana's Gulf oil-rich economy and passage of a bill authorizing the pipeline would be a high profile and new accomplishment that Landrieu could point to.
The visuals of more than 50 protesters picketing on Landrieu's front yard with "No KXL" signs could bolster Landrieu's status as a serious threat to opponents of the pipeline and positions her as a key player in the effort to bring more than a dozen Senate Democrats on board to support the bill and send it to President Barack Obama's desk. Activists even walked up to the front stoop of Landrieu's D.C. home and knocked on the door -- no answer.
But progressive activists at the protest said they weren't concerned about Landrieu's reelection prospects, acknowledging that both Landrieu and her opponent support Keystone XL.
"It's one vote in the Senate, and either way it's a yes vote on the Keystone pipeline," said Karthik Ganapathy, an organizer with the environmental organization 350.
Instead, Ganapathy and other activists said the protest was about more than Landrieu -- sending a message to national Democrats that they risk losing their base if they support policies like Keystone.
"We're not going to lie down and say, 'Oh but they're a Democrat,'" Ganapathy said. "The people that you're looking at here, these are the people that Hillary Clinton, the Democrats of 2016 and beyond are going to need to knock on doors and turnout the vote."
Dems consider Keystone vote for Landrieu
Dems consider Keystone vote for Landrieu

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    Dems consider Keystone vote for Landrieu

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Dems consider Keystone vote for Landrieu 01:25
Clinton: Keystone XL just one pipeline
Clinton: Keystone XL just one pipeline

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    Clinton: Keystone XL just one pipeline

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Clinton: Keystone XL just one pipeline 02:27
Thirteen other Senate Democrats also risk having inflatable pipelines strewn across their front yard. So far, 14 Democrats, including Landrieu, reportedly plan to join Republicans in supporting the project Tuesday -- putting the Senate just one vote shy of the filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
Deirdre Shelly, a senior at American University and self-described "disillusioned Democrat", said she came out to oppose the pipeline project and to send a message to all Democrats considering supporting the project.
"Young voters are not going to vote for anyone who approves this pipeline and it's also shameful [that Senate Democrats are considering it]," Shelly said. "I'm excited that the climate movement and younger people are finally going after Democrats and I expect that to continue as long as they continue to say yes to the pipeline."
The rally also brought activists from outside the Beltway, from the areas that could be impacted if the pipeline project goes through -- an unclear outcome at the moment as Obama has suggested he would veto the project if it passes the Senate.
Activists from South Dakota with the Native American group Wica Agli said they are concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline as well as its impact on the society.
Aldo Seoane, the group's co-director, said the inflatable pipeline was a much-needed image to share their perspective.
"They don't understand what we're fighting for and they need these visuals so they can feel what we're feeling," Seoane said. "No one wants a pipeline running through their yard."
Nebraskan Art Tanderup, a Democrat whose farm is one of many on the pipeline's planned route, said he would never support Landrieu's campaign because of her betrayal of the Democratic base "just to get reelected."
"We're here to try and convince people not to support the Keystone XL pipeline," he said when asked about the impact on Landrieu's reelection prospects.
But pressed as to whether he would support Landrieu or her Republican opponent, Tanderup said he would be in a bind.
"This would be a very difficult situation for me to vote," Tanderup said. "Because of other issues and other differences, I would probably vote for her."
Landrieu's office did not immediately return a request for comment.