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Thousands Protest at White House Over Pipeline

Nov. 6, 2011: Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest outside the White House to demand a stop to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Nov. 6, 2011: Demonstrators march with a replica of a pipeline during a protest outside the White House to demand a stop to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  (AP)

Thousands of protesters are gathering in Lafayette Square across from the White House exactly one year out from the presidential election to oppose a plan for a transnational oil pipeline they fear could harm the environment.

More than 8,000 people linked hands around the White House to oppose the Keystone XL project, a pipeline that would carry oil derived from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

Bill McKibben, one of the protest organizers, described the scene as either "a big O-shaped hug" or "a symbolic house arrest."

Obama missed most of the protest while he played golf at Fort Belvoir in Virginia on Sunday afternoon.