FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-September 9, 2011 Media Contact: Caroline Hansley (828) 808-6151, caroline.hansley@richmond.

edu Students Protest Tar Sands Pipeline at Obama’s Richmond Speech; President Risks Alienating Youth Voters Over Oil Pipeline RICHMOND, VA -- A protest at the University of Richmond during President Obama’s speech this morning suggests that the approval of a dangerous new oil pipeline could further erode the president’s dwindling support amongst young people. "I went door-to-door for Obama in 2008 and got all my friends registered to vote," said Jerry Giordano, a Senior philosophy major who took part in the protest. "I want to support the president, but it's going to be a lot harder to motivate young people to vote if he sides with Big Oil and approves this pipeline.” Dozens of students rallied outside the president’s address, holding a giant banner that said “Pres. Obama: Yes You Can, Stop the XL Pipeline.” The protest was organized by Green University of Richmond and the Virginia Alliance for a Cleaner Environment. President Obama’s decision whether or not to grant a construction permit for the Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, has become his most important environmental test before the 2012 election. Over 1,200 Americans were arrested at the White House protesting the pipeline this August. The pipeline has become a key electoral question for the president, whose popularity with 18-29 year olds just dipped below 50% for the first time. “Obama won the election because the left, young people who are disproportionately environmentalists, came out in huge numbers,” Doug Schoen, who was a strategist for President Bill Clinton, said in an interview with Bloomberg News (source). “If he doesn’t have the kind of support he had from the left, from young people, from environmentalists, he is not going to be reelected. It’s as simple as that.” "Young people mobilized in record numbers in 2008 to elect a leader they believed would fulfill his promise,” said Courtney Hight, a 2008 Obama for America youth vote director in Florida. “If President Obama denies the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline it will be an important step for mobilizing young voters again.”

The country’s top green groups, who released a letter this August calling on President Obama to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, have echoed the youth sentiment, raising the volume on the possibility of sitting out the 2012 election if the pipeline project goes through. “We will see an enthusiasm deficit” toward Obama in the campaign, Michael Brune, executive director of the 1.4 million-member Sierra Club, said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We won’t see our members volunteering 20 or 25 or 30 hours a week. We won’t see bus-loads of people from California going to canvas in Reno, Nevada, or Sierra Club members from Chicago going to Ohio. We won’t see the same passion and intensity.” The proposed 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would carry dirty, tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. A rupture in the pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America’s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 20 million people. NASA’s top climate scientist says that fully developing the tar sands in Canada would mean “essentially game over” for the climate. President Obama can stop this potential environmental disaster right now with a stroke of his pen by denying the Canadian company TransCanada the “Presidential Permit” they need to build the pipeline. For more information about the pipeline and protests, visit or contact Jamie Henn, 415-601-9337,


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