Obama has twice thwarted the Keystone XL pipeline because of concerns over its route through sensitive land in Nebraska, but has not indicated how he will decide on the pipeline now that Nebraska's governor has approved a new route. The State Department has authority over the project, because it crosses an international border, but most observers expect Obama to make the final decision.
Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, said he participated in the pipeline protest "because I'm an American and I'm worried about the planet." He called the pipeline a human-rights issue, since many landowners in the six states where it will travel have been unable to resist Calgary-based TransCanada, the pipeline operator, as it seizes their property.
Bond also said the pipeline will exacerbate pollution problems near the Houston refineries where it will be processed, including neighborhoods where minorities predominate. The pipeline will travel through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before reaching Texas.
Bond, 73, said he was unhappy at the prospect of being arrested. "My mother told me I'd never get a job" if he got arrested, he said.
As Bond and others were being arrested, the American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobbying group for the oil industry, again urged Obama to approve the project. The group said it will pay for ads supporting the pipeline and will mobilize grassroots events across the country urging Obama's approval.
API President Jack Gerard called Keystone XL "the most thoroughly vetted major infrastructure project in the nation's history" and noted that TransCanada has agreed to 57 special conditions sought by the U.S. government to ensure environmental safety.
With the unemployment rate hovering near 8 percent, "getting people into these new jobs is critical," Gerard said.
In the past week, nine people have been arrested in attempts to disrupt the pipeline's construction through Oklahoma. One of the eight people arrested Monday near Schoolton, Okla., had attached himself to a crane and was freed by a firefighter using bolt cutters.
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Asheville, N.C., contributed to this report.
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