On Nov. 6, some 10,000 environmental activists descended on the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver crude oil from Canada to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Disgruntled activists said that if the White House approves the project, they won’t campaign for President Obama in 2012, and some threatened to sit out Election Day altogether. “I will leave him,” says Kathleen Thompson, a 58-year-old yoga teacher from Mansfield, Pa., who attended the rally. Thompson says she’d sooner not vote than cast her lot with any of Obama’s GOP challengers.
The protest garnered headlines, but even its organizers acknowledge they’re struggling to influence the Administration. Though Obama has implemented dramatic new fuel-efficiency standards for cars and is mulling whether to grant approval for the pipeline before deciding whether to grant approval, he caught fire from environmentalists who fought against his decision to continue offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and reject tighter ozone standards, decisions environmentalists fought against.