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Vice President Biden Visiting Bay Area For Fundraiser; Protest Planned

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/ BCN) — Activists protesting a proposed international oil pipeline planned a rally outside a fundraiser attended by Vice President Joe Biden in San Francisco’s Seacliff neighborhood Friday evening.

Protesters targeting the Keystone XL pipeline project planned to begin gathering at about 4:30 p.m. at 25th Avenue and El Camino del Mar.

Guests were expected to start arriving about 30 minutes later for Friday night’s Democratic Party fundraiser, which was taking place nearby at the home of Dawn Ross and Doug Hickey, CEO of the San Francisco-based beverage distribution company BinWise.

The proposed pipeline, which would extend from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast, is described by advocates as a crucial step toward energy independence for the United States but has been adamantly opposed by environmentalists, in part because of concerns about oil spills.

Friday’s rally was being organized by environmental groups including 350.org, the Sierra Club, CREDO and others, and could draw as many as 500 people, said Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for 350.org.

Environmentalists fear that the pipeline will also allow for increased mining of Canada’s tar sands, which require intensive processing to produce crude oil. That would produce far greater amounts of climate-altering carbon dioxide than conventional petroleum processing, Kessler said.

“Tar sands oil is the dirtiest oil in the world,” he said.

President Barack Obama, who has sole authority to approve or veto the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline, could announce a decision on it as soon as September, Kessler said.

While Biden’s level of influence on the decision remains unclear, he is viewed as a presidential confidante and has served as something of a trend-setter in the past for the administration on issues such as gay marriage, Kessler said.

“The president has made a number of promises on global warming, and it’s time to make good on some of them,” Kessler said.

White House officials were not immediately saying when Biden is expected to arrive in the Bay Area today.

According to the invitation for Friday evening’s fundraiser, tickets for the event were running between $500 and $10,000.

Biden’s visit comes just a week after Obama also flew in for Democratic fundraisers in Palo Alto and Portola Valley as well as to give a speech in San Jose about the Affordable Care Act.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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