President Barack Obama left South Florida on Thursday night after attending a fund raiser at the home of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, but not before being greeted by dozens of people protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Protesters, some wearing costumes representing everything that's wrong with the pipeline, lined a portion of street blocked off for them in along the 108th block of Ludlam Road in Pinecrest. They held up signs and led chants as the President was hosted by the Mournings at a fundraiser attended by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
"Pipeline protesters and media were kept several blocks away from Mourning's home," 350 South Florida Treasurer and Broward College student Giovanni Bonelli says.
Still, it was a sizable enough crowd to be noticed. And, as promised, there were folks dressed as sea creatures, a dancing polar bear, and even a water drop.
Members from groups like 350 South Florida, The Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, The Sierra Club South Florida, CREDO, and other pro climate groups led protesters in chants urging Obama to "Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline."
If built, the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would transport up to 35 million gallons of oil a day from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, all the way down to refineries in Texas. And while the pipeline would not be placed anywhere in Florida, the group says the state's environment will be negatively affected.
"The pipeline will be bringing in corrosive tar sands," Bonelli told New Times, "and will contribute to climate change and damage sea levels, which is something that will directly affect Florida."
350 South Florida says that much of the Keystone Pipeline oil would be exported to other countries like China.
The pipeline does have some support in the Florida Legislature. Rep. Mike Hill of Pensacola has proposed a House bill urging the president to consider the approval of the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.
But, for the protesters who met Obama with signs and costumes, it's a matter of protecting the environment.
Some protestors showed up as sea creatures, which represents the local threat of sea level rise. Likewise, the dancing polar bear represents the extinction of animals globally, due to climate change.
President Obama is expected to make a decision on the pipeline later this year.