Keystone pipeline protesters bound for Pac Heights

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Environmentalists plan to protest the Keystone XL pipeline when Obama visits SF.
PHOTO COURTESY CREDO ACTION

Environmentalists opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline are gearing up to protest in San Francisco's wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood on April 3, when President Barack Obama will dine with the city's upper crust for a Democratic Party fundraiser.

Credo Action – the advocacy arm of telecom Credo Mobile – is mobilizing the protest in tandem with the Sierra Club, 350.org and Friends of the Earth. Credo Action political director Becky Bond says she expects around 1,000 protesters to turn out. Since the pipeline will traverse international boundaries, Obama has the power to reject permits for its construction, and environmentalists across the country are calling upon him to do so.

There have been protests outside the White House, but Bond says environmentalists' goal is to follow the president wherever he goes to demonstrate Keystone XL opposition. “Everywhere he has a public appearance he’ll find protesters – even if he’s attending a [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] fundraiser in Pac Heights,” Bond told the Guardian. “Before we can get behind any part of his agenda, he needs to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. He doesn’t realize how much this will hurt him, both in his base and with his donors.”

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Obama will make two different stops in Pac Heights when he visits San Francisco early next month. The main attraction will be a $32,500-per-person dinner hosted by philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty at their mansion, listed as 2870 Broadway on Credo Action’s event announcement. The Getty family fortune, as it happens, was originally derived from the oil industry. 

Obama’s other fundraising stop, meanwhile, raises some interesting questions. 

The LA Times reports that prior to dining with the Gettys, Obama will attend “a $5,000-per-person cocktail reception at the home of Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager.”

Steyer isn't just any former hedge fund manager – he’s a billionaire and founder of Farallon Capital, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. Steyer is also a self-proclaimed environmentalist – he recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I believe global warming is the big moral issue of our time.” 

He made headlines earlier this week when he pledged to fund an opposition campaign challenging Congressional representative Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat running for Senate, because Lynch supports the Keystone XL pipeline. Perhaps Obama will get an earful on Keystone inside Steyer’s mansion as well as from protesters out on the street.

As a side note, Steyer’s grave concern about climate change apparently hasn’t always prevented him from investing in the fossil fuel industry. According to this report, Farallon Capital bought up 1.8 million shares of BP stock in August of 2011 – after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill utterly devastated the Gulf of Mexico.