Prominent climate activist and Keystone XL oil sands pipeline opponent Bill McKibben has won a Norway-based prize awarded for environmental work.
McKibben received the Sophie Prize — which comes with a cash award of $100,000 — for his work with 350.org, the climate advocacy group he co-founded. McKibben said he would split the prize between his organization and his alma mater, Middlebury College, provided it divests from fossil fuels.
“This is really an award for the millions of people who make up the growing climate movement,” McKibben said Tuesday in a statement.
McKibben was awarded the prize for “pioneering new methods of social protest,” such as university divestment. His group has successfully pushed several institutions of higher education to excise fossil fuel investments from their endowments.
He also has helped lead protests against the Keystone pipeline, which would haul oil sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
McKibben organized a protest against the pipeline in August 2011 that ended with him and 1,253 other people being arrested.
Some observers have credited the protest with pushing President Obama to punt a decision on the controversial pipeline project until after the 2012 election.
The project is currently under federal review and is at the center of an intense lobbying and political battle.
Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because they say it would facilitate fossil fuel production that they say would exacerbate climate change.
But some unions that traditionally back Democrats support Keystone because it would provide jobs. The project is also backed by Republican and some Democratic lawmakers, the oil-and gas industry and officials in Canada.
Supporters contend Keystone would provide an injection of short-term construction jobs while also strengthening energy security.