President Obama visited Palo Alto Thursday night to attend two fundraisers benefiting the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the first at the Crescent Park home of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.
Around 200 protesters gathered about a block away from the event -- which cost $2,500 per person for entrance -- to voice their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a massive project to transfer Canadian tar sands oil to the United States.
"We need to keep the Keystone pipeline from being built because it will keep the tar sands oil in the ground," said Lisa Altieri, a member of 350.org and the head organizer of the protest. "We have to keep it in the ground because we cannot afford to keep burning -- we need it to stop."
The protest brought together multiple environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, 350.org, local environmental action nonprofit Acterra and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Keystone pipeline would cut through the Midwest, adding 875 miles of pipe with the capacity to transfer 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to the Gulf Coast for refining. The extraction of tar sands oil has been highly controversial because it produces two to three times the emissions of traditional crude oil, according to a report from Canada's Environmental Ministry.
When one man, Bernard Greening of Santa Clara, was asked about his opinion on Obama's environmental policy, he answered with one word, "Disappointment."
Another protester, Bob Moffat of Los Altos, voiced concern over the proposed benefits of the pipeline.
"My opinion is that the cost benefit never pays off," Moffat said. "The costs goes all on us, and the benefits all goes back to Canada. And I think there's no way that we should put a pipeline through our country when the Canadians wouldn't put one through theirs."
Obama arrived at Moffett Field shortly before 6 p.m. and planned to stay overnight in San Jose. On Friday he is scheduled to make a statement on the topic of health care.
Attendees of the second event, a dinner, paid $32,400 each and gathered at the Palo Alto home of Vinod and Neeru Khosla. The maximum donation included opportunities for discussion and photos, according to the program for the evening.
Khosla is a venture capitalist noted for his interest in cutting-edge green enterprises.
Khosla gave $1 million in 2012 to Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that spent $66 million to defeat Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission records and OpenSecrets.org, the website of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.