WASHINGTON, D.C. - Authorities arrested dozens of people on Sunday protesting outside the White House against a proposed $7 billion oil pipeline they oppose for environmental reasons.
Park Police Sergeant David Schlosser said 45 activists were arrested on Sunday for "failure to obey lawful order." They were released after paying a fine, he told Reuters.
Sixty-five people were jailed on Saturday, some of whom were held overnight, Schlosser said.
Organizers of the sit-in expected arrests but said on their Tar Sands Action website that police had previously assured them protesters would be released the same day.
Protests against the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would bring oil sands petroleum from Canada to Texas refineries, are scheduled to continue for the next two weeks despite the arrests.
Opponents want the administration of President Barack Obama to stop the pipeline — which would deliver up to 700,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast refineries — because it would cross water sources that could be vulnerable to spills.
Oil sands petroleum also emits more carbon dioxide than average crude oils.
The State Department is set to issue a final environmental impact report this month on the project and hopes to make a final decision on the TransCanada Corp line by the end of the year.
Opponents of the Keystone project view it as President Barack Obama's biggest climate decision between now and next year's election.
"We are here because it's not just an environmental issue, it's also a very big health issue," said one arrested protester, Dr. Sydney Parker of Maryland.
"I've never been arrested before," Parker said. "I don't do this for fun. I'm here because I think it's such an important issue that it really demands that kind of action, and it demands that level of commitment from myself."
(Reporting by Shaleem Thompson; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Greg McCune)