The two-day detention of many of the protesters in front of the White House opposing a proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas has not so far inhibited other activists. Over the first two days, 110 activists have been arrested for sit-ins at the tar sands protests, including FDL colleagues Jane Hamsher and Scarecrow. Today, in Day Three, Nebraskans who will be directly impacted by the pipeline came to Washington to demonstrate.

One Nebraskan is small business owner Lori Fischer:

“If the government is going to refuse to step up to the responsibility to defend a livable future, I believe that creates a moral imperative for me and many others.“

“This is a crucial issue for Nebraskans to speak up loudly and let our government know that the high risk of Keystones dirty tar sands oil transported in fragile pipeline through our priceless Sand Hills overlying the Ogallala Aquifer is not worth the risk. Our land, water, and the future of our children are at stake. I feel our leaders need to take seriously their responsibility to pass on a healthy and just world to the next generation, I am going to Washington to remind them.”

The protest lasted less than an hour before US Park Police issued an order to disperse and arrested those who failed to obey the order. Dozens more were arrested at the protest, which included about 65 people.

The Keystone XL pipeline would stretch 1,500 miles and open up a vast expanse of tar sands oil for drilling and refining. Climate activists believe it would spell doom for their efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. The protests plan to continue until September 3. Park police are giving jail time for what is normally a civil infraction. Nonetheless, protest organizers expect close to 100 protesters every day for the next week and a half.

The significant development today is that the New York Times editorial page was moved to oppose the tar sands pipeline. Without the profile from Bill McKibben’s protests, who knows if they would have paid the issue much attention.

This page opposes the building of a 1,700-mile pipeline called the Keystone XL, which would carry diluted bitumen — an acidic crude oil — from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast. We have two main concerns: the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does [...]

The State Department will decide whether to approve or reject the pipeline by the end of the year. It has already delivered two flawed reports on the pipeline’s environmental impact. It should acknowledge the environmental risk of the pipeline and the larger damage caused by tar sands production and block the Keystone XL.

With traditional elites paying attention to the issue, perhaps for the first time, it ensures political pressure on the White House to oppose. Congress has no role here; it’s up to the President.