UPDATE 2-Pressure builds for Keystone decision after Obama speech

Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:21pm EST
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* Environmentalists arrested in front of White House

* Oil and gas lobby plans national advertising campaign

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Environmentalists and industry groups ramped up efforts on Wednesday to influence the White House's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project, a day after President Barack Obama said he would take action to curb climate-warming emissions.

A small group of activists and celebrities protested in front of the White House to put pressure on Obama to reject the controversial proposed crude oil pipeline. Among the 48 protesters arrested and released on $100 bail were actress Daryl Hannah and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his son Conor Kennedy, said Maggie Kao, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club.

The action came before a rally planned for Sunday on Washington's National Mall, which organizers have dubbed "the largest climate rally in history."

The TransCanada Corp pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude from the oil sands of northern Alberta, the world's third largest crude resource, to refineries and ports in Texas. TransCanada has been waiting for approval for 4 1/2 years.

Environmentalists say approval of the pipeline will encourage more development in the oil sands, where extraction is carbon-intensive, leading to greater greenhouse gas emissions.

The State Department in the coming days is due to issue a new environmental impact statement on the project, which is expected to guide the White House as it decides whether to give the project the go-ahead.   Continued...