On acting to block the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

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If we don’t say no now, when will we say no? The push to permit and build the pipeline has power and wealth on its side -- and some who should know better are either supporting it or playing down its importance. There are compelling scientific and political reasons why Obama and Kerry should be pushed to kill this project. Leading scientists have called on the administration to call a halt. Peter Gleick, David Roberts, and A Siegel make the case from three complementary perspectives.

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“When do we finally just say ‘no more?’” asks Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “When are we and our elected officials going to look at the complete picture created by our individual choices and decisions?”

We’re glad to see Peter has started writing a new blog, Significant Figures. From his post, The Keystone XL Pipeline: Red herring, symbol, or a piece of a puzzle? (read the full post):

It is time we just said “no.”

There is growing attention to climate change in the media; and there is a growing realization that decisions we make today will have a lasting effect on the world’s climate tomorrow.

But there is still a gap – a chasm really – between the reality of climate change and our day-to-day choices, investments, and public debates about water, energy, food, and resources. …

How can we read the relentless and convincing news from scientists about climate change, and then turn to the financial pages and read arguments to accelerate investment in old-style technologies, fossil fuels, and land developments along coasts that ignore climate factors? … How can we cheer at the profits being made by energy companies in our investment portfolios or institutional endowments when those profits come at the expense of our own and our children’s planetary health?

Every individual choice, every long-term development project, every purchase we make, every financial investment in infrastructure or technology may, in isolation, be relatively innocent and modest. But our choices are additive. Society’s decisions must no longer be divorced from the recognition of the threats of climate change. ...

In Debunking Nature’s arguments for Keystone (read the full post), Dave Roberts at Grist hits the nail on the head as usual, taking on a misguided science journal editorial and making a good case for the politics of mobilizing a movement to stop the pipeline.

1.    The tar sands will get dug up anyway.

Of course there’s no guarantee activists can bottle up the tar sands until governments get serious about climate change. It’s a huge, difficult fight — most worthwhile fights are! But there’s also no guarantee they will fail. …

2.  Some other unconventional fuels are even dirtier.

… [S]o what? As I’ve said many times, wonk logic and activist logic are different. A wonk ranks fossil fuel projects by tons of carbon per unit of energy. An activist looks for opportunities to break through the news cycle, to force confrontation, to create a symbol, to build a movement. Neither logic trumps the other.

Like it or not, Keystone has become a symbol. What will it symbolize?

3.    Keystone approval can “build credibility” or serve as a bargaining chip.

Ah, the endless quest of the center left to give things away to “bolster credibility.” ...

There are no deals. There are only fights. Not everyone has to like it — few people do! — but at this point, there’s no excuse for not recognizing it.

Even if bipartisanship were possible in U.S. politics as a rule, as a matter of tactics the right sees energy — particularly Keystone and EPA — as one of its winning issues. It wants a fight on energy. It’s not going to put down the pitchfork and make deals at the expense of an issue it intends to demagogue in 2014.

Giving up Keystone is giving up Keystone. That’s it. There is no “credibility with conservatives” or grand bargain waiting at the end of the rainbow. …

Knowing what we now know about climate change, it is simply immoral to tap large new sources of fossil fuels. We’ve got to start leaving the damn stuff in the ground.

In Keystone XL pipeline is not in the U.S. National Interest, A Siegel outlines and supports eight key reasons why it is not (read the full post):

The Keystone XL pipeline would

Ease expansion of environmentally devastating tar sands oil exploitation

Worsen prospects for mitigating climate change

Threaten Americans' health …

Lead to increased fuel prices for significant numbers of Americans …

Create increased risks of oil pipeline spills …

Threaten employment …

Hurt America's prospects for achieving a clean energy future …

Undermine America's ability to lead internationally. …

As Professor John Abraham put it, If we don't say no now, when will we say no?

Earlier posts:

Scientists call on President to reject the Keystone XL pipeline

Scientists urge State Dept to consider climate change in new Keystone XL pipeline review

Jim Hansen arrest at White House tar sands pipeline protest: “We had a dream” [with video]

Keystone XL tar sands pipeline demonstrators surround White House - pipeline permit decision blocked until 2013 [with video]

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One Response to On acting to block the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

  1. Anne says:

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his teen son Conor, actress Daryl Hannah, and the Reverend Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus were among the Keystone XL pipeline protesters today in front of the White House. RFK Jr was arrested, as were about 50 others.
    LINK. Meanwhile, #NOKXL was trending on twitter, thousands of tweets, including by Naomi Klein. A CNN political reporter covered the action. Will POTUS take notice? Hard to tell just yet.

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