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Vermillion protesters rally against Keystone XL pipeline

University of South Dakota students and Vermilion community members rallied Monday night at the intersection of Main and Market Streets against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

More than a dozen people with posters and candles gathered at 6 p.m. as part of a national activism campaign aimed to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline following the release of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environment Impact System.

Protest organizer Emily Roberson, a junior at USD studying anthropology and sustainability, said she learned of the nationally organized protests over the weekend and wanted to see Vermillion involved in “something bigger.”

“It’s a grassroots effort kind of a thing,” Roberson said. “The pipeline creates a fix for the short-term, but makes matters worse in the long-term.”

The proposed $5.4 billion pipeline would transport heavy crude from Canadian oil sands in Alberta into the U.S. through a series of pipeline networks.

Supporters of the pipeline say the project would boost the economy and contribute to the job force, while those against the pipeline say it will contribute to climate pollution.

More than 200 vigils took place in 44 states, responding to the State Department’s report released January 31 which stated the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would unlikely alter global greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials are still considering whether the project would meet the test of the President’s broader climate strategy.

For first-year Joslynn Clauson, the partaking in local protest was part of a larger scheme.

“Vermillion can be a leader,” she said. “It’s not as big as some of them are in other cities, but we matter in this region.”

Alongside student protesters were community members who felt joining in on the rally was necessary, not only to show their support of the university, but to stand up for their own personal beliefs.

Protesters Richard Menzel forsees the pipeline causing numerous strains not only on the enviornment, but the American population as well.

“We’ll have to protect the pipeline if it’s built, which tax payers will end up paying for,” Menzel said.
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The demonstration lasted about an hour.

Follow reporter Trent Opstedahl on Twitter @TrentOp