(MintPress) – The National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union representing nurses across the U.S. publicly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, becoming the largest group to join the burgeoning coalition against the oil pipeline. The proposed pipeline would transport tar sands more than 1,200 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The endorsement seems like an unlikely one for the Keystone XL blockade made up of mostly environmentalist groups. However the nurses union is extending its support for reasons relating to human health.
“Nurses care for patients every day who struggle with health crises aggravated by environmental pollution in its many forms,” stated NNU Co-President Deborah Burger.
“As a society we need to reduce the effects of environmental factors, including climate change, that are making people sick, and endangering the future for our children. That’s why we oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”
Representing more than 185,000 nurses in all 50 states, the endorsement by the nurses union is a major step forward for groups working to shut down the pipeline, a project that environmentalists warn could be “game over” in the uphill battle to end catastrophic global warming.
The NNU previously lent support to the Occupy Wall Street movement and other progressive causes working to improve conditions for working class families.
The grassroots resistance to the pipeline has taken the form of public protests and more confrontational occupations of construction sites by environmental activists and those who support them. Protesters in Texas, the terminus of the proposed 1,200 mile pipeline maintain encampments blocking construction sites.
Elisabeth Leja from Oklahoma took the drastic step of locking her neck around construction equipment, bringing construction to a halt site on Highway 62, just North of the North Canadian River, Monday.
Protests have escalated in recent weeks and could grow further with a national protest scheduled February 17, in Washington D.C. The demonstration, organized by international environmentalist group 350.org, is expected to bring thousands to the streets of Washington to protest the pipeline.
A national Keystone XL protest held last year drew more than 15,000 in the largest single demonstration against the pipeline.
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