President Obama to Be Met by Keystone XL Pipeline Protesters Dressed as Sea Creatures

Protesters dressed in scuba gear, a polar bear costume, and as various sea creatures are gathering in Pinecrest near former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning's house Thursday afternoon.

President Obama is scheduled to have a fundraiser at Mourning's home, and members of groups like 350 South Florida, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and CREDO are gathered to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.

If built, the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would transport oil 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.

Thus the animal getups.

The pipeline has 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.

The pipeline would create jobs, proponents for Keystone say.

But 350 South Florida Treasurer and Broward College student Giovanni Bonelli disagrees.

"From what we understand, these jobs are not long-term," Bonelli tells New Times. "There aren't many long-term jobs associated with Keystone. Maybe some construction and labor jobs, but nothing that will last."

More important, Bonelli says, the pipeline would be a disaster for the environment.

"The pipeline will be bringing in corrosive tar sands," he says, "and will contribute to climate change and damage sea levels, which is something that will directly affect Florida."

So, to get Obama's attention, the group is showing up not just with signs but in costumes.

"We'll have people dressed in scuba gear and sea creatures that basically represent the local threat of sea level rise," Bonelli says. "We also plan to have a dancing polar bear there, which represents the extinction of animals globally, due to climate change."

The protesters have gotten the OK from Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner to get as close to the president as possible.

Obama is expected to make a decision on the pipeline later this year.

The "No Keystone XL Pipeline" rally for President Obama is expected to get kicked off at 5 p.m. at 11000 S. Red Road in Miami.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph