Just moments ago, the Obama administration delivered the announcement we’ve all been waiting for, “The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline [has been] denied.”

Following months of activism and pressure – from both advocates and opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry heavy crude 1,700 miles from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico – President Obama made the right decision to deny the permit application from TransCanada.

After announcing a delay to the permit approval process in November, Congress approved legislation in late December forcing the President to fast track a decision by February 21. Eager Republicans from the House Energy and Commerce Committee even posted a countdown clock in an attempt to force Obama into approval.

Even before the formal announcement from the State Department today, advocates of Keystone XL were vowing, “This is not the end of this fight,” (spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner). It’s true, they have the backing and support and money of Big Oil to fight back, draft new legislation and push for a new route for this pipeline and others. Today’s news does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.

We were there to oppose this pipeline proposal and we’ll continue to be there to oppose any alternative routes. The State Department stated that the proposed KeystoneXL Pipeline does not serve the national interest, but we are here to insist that this pipeline — and any tar sands pipeline — is not in the interest of our planet’s future.

Thanks for all your hard work around this. Stay updated on the latest news around the KeystoneXL Pipeline on our People-to-People blog.

Wait a minute! Hang on! Didn’t we celebrate that Obama announced that the Keystone XL permit decision (whether or not approve TransCanada’s application to build a mega pipeline to transport dirty tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico) was off the agenda until 2013? Yes, we did. BUT then the payroll tax cut extension came up for consideration in Congress and outraged Republicans decided to attach legislation forcing President Obama to approve or deny Keystone XL in sixty days. This happened on December 23. Happy Holidays climate change, environmental destruction and indigenous rights.

Since then advocates for Keystone XL have put the full court press on President Obama –  pressuring, lobbying, tweeting, blogging, placing ads and demanding Obama’s approval:

TransCanada can’t stop talking about all the jobs they want to create if Keystone XL is approved. (The Center for Economic and Policy Research‘s economist Dean Baker debunked these numbers on Jan 2.)

On Jan 4, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched a ‘countdown clock’ asking, “Will President Obama choose jobs and energy security for America?” If you are not great at math, like me, the clock is kind of handy.

Lobbyists for the oil industry – The American Petroleum Institute – launched ads on Jan 11. Ah, lobbyists.

Speaker John Boehner blogged on Jan 13 asking what you’d decide if you were President, and is asking for feedback: “Let Speaker Boehner know in the comments section … on Google+, on Twitter using the #KXL hash tag, and on Facebook by answering our Question here.” Take action, friends!

So, while all this is going on the count down to a thumbs down is on. Obama’s spent twenty-one days, seventeen hours and two minutes (of his sixty days) from the time this blog is posted. In December White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that the countdown “simply shortens  the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved.” Today Business Week quoted Mike McKenna, an oil-industry lobbyist and president of MWR Strategies Inc. in Washington, saying, “The president is going to say no. The only recourse the Republicans have is to make it painful, politically, for him.”

Months ago Maude Barlow recounted a conversation that she had with a taxi driver in DC on her way to participate in the days of protest to stop Keystone XL this summer. She asked the man what Obama should decide on the pipeline. He said that Obama is in a tough place, if he approves the project he’ll anger his supporters who elected him but if he denies it, he’ll anger the big corporations pressuring for approval. Maude agreed and then asked him again what he though that Obama should do. The driver responded, ‘If Obama can’t please everyone, then he should do the right thing and deny the pipeline’.

Below is a short film about tar sands extraction – beyond Keystone XL, other oil giants are working to increase extraction in other directions, from northern Alberta to the west coast through a project called the Northern Gateway. This short film was ranked as one of the Top Ten Revolutionary Videos of 2011.

The title steals the last line from Tar Sands Action‘s morning blog (“It’s going to be very good day for the 99% of us who aren’t an executive at TransCanada.”) with the update that it WAS a great day. By official count 12,000 of us participated in the Day of Action to surround the White House. Some called it a “giant hug”, some said we’d “encircle the White House to show President Obama that he has the support he needs to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline” and at last night’s meet up and strategy session Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein said that some could also call it “a house arrest”.

Read Global Exchange’s twitter feed for posts and pictures as it was happening.

a quarter of the crowd gathered in Lafayette Park before we encircled

This Sunday at noon we gathered, we got our posters, we saw friends, we cheered as contingents from across the country entered

Lafayette Park and excitement built as Bill McKibben welcomed us all. Then Mike Brune from the Sierra Club,  Mark Ruffalo, James Hansen, Naomi Klein, Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams, Vice President of the Oglala Lakota Nation Tom Poor Bear, Rev Lennox Yearwood and the president of Sojourners, elected reps from TN and MD, a rancher from Nebraska, the president of the Transport Workers Union all joined the stage to explain the terrors of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and quantify this tipping point moment to stop it’s approval by President Obama before the end of the year.

thanks James Ploeser for the photo!

THEN WE DID IT! We got instructions from the Tar Sands Action team (BRAVO to all of you btw!) and headed in 3 teams to completely encircle the White House. And we did it not just in one ring, but in some places two and three rings deep. A giant, long, inflated, black ‘pipeline’ marched back and forth as we chanted ‘Yes You Can, Stop The Pipeline’ over and over and over again.

As the sun set over Lafayette Park we returned for celebratory speeches from Maude Barlow, Dick Gregory, members of Gulf oil disaster impacted communities, Jane Kleeb from BOLD Nebraska (who convinced us all we are pipeline fighters, Sand Hill lovers and Ogallala Aquifer lovers), Physicians for Social Responsibility, a First Nations Chief from British Columbia, chief  and heard a message from Van Jones.

Board member and friend Deborah James and I this afternoon

We know what happened today – it’s been decades since an issue has brought these numbers to Washington to demonstrate such strong support for a President to stand up against corporate interests and be held accountable to his own campaign promises. We demonstrated the very best of our people power. We just need to hear from the President that he was listening.

Send a message to the President now – click here to tell Obama to reject the pipeline. There is no time to wait.