One of those times
There's been a lot of emails this weekend from our friends, so I thought it might help to throw out a few clarifications before the Monday events so many of you are planning to attend.
First, lets reiterate what we said on Friday: The State Department report is not the final word on KXL. We know that will be a 30-day comment period, with an additional 60 days for agencies like the EPA to weigh in. And the final decision rests, as it always has, with President Obama, who has to decide if he's a pipeline president or a a climate champion. It's one of those times—there's no inbetween.
During the 90 days that the public and agencies like the EPA, which has played a key role in criticizing previous State Department Reports, will get the chance to weigh in, your comments, our collective voice, and the expert opinions offered are absolutely critical.
They're critical not just for shaping the final outcome and tone of the State Department's recommendation to President Obama, but for shaping the public understanding about the Keystone pipeline and how that public perception drives inside-the-beltway politics.
Most of all if you want to believe that President Obama wants to do the right thing, but needs to be surrounded in order to to do it, so I am asking you to show up on Monday at 6pm. It's one of those times.
When the last State Department report came out, two things helped us delay a decision in favor of Keystone and keep climate change as high as it is on the president's list: The first thing was an EPA letter that, in brief, called out the state department's assertion that there was no real climate impact to building Keystone, because the tar sands would just get developed anyway. We see the sting of that criticism reflected in this reports acknowledgment (in over-protective detail) that the Keystone Pipeline WILL make global warming pollution worse — as much worse as something like 7.8 dirty power plants or 5,708,333 cars. Getting EPA to critique this report again and prove that everyone agrees Keystone is bad for the climate (they just don't agree HOW bad) will be a big help in convincing the president to end this pipeline.
Getting the frauds who wrote these state department reports to admit that there was a climate impact to building a giant pipeline who's only purpose is to ship the dirtiest oil in the world across America, where it will be refined, shipped and sold to China, Africa and other 'developing' nations, is a bigger win than it might seem. And it's a big part of why many of our allies have been calling this report a "win" that clears the way for Obama to shut down Keystone XL once and for all.
But I'm not sold. For one thing, the State Department report still vastly undersells the climate impacts of Keystone. Our friends at OCI scrupulously predicted those impacts much closer to 51 coal fire power plants or 38,055,553 cars, approximately. And the state department still unnecessarily assumes that the tar sands will be dug up, shipped and refined somewhere else even if America doesn't offer to mainline the most toxic oil on earth through our heartland.
Sadly, more important than the science and facts, which are very much against Keystone, politics has always been the more important factor. When the president got up and addressed Congress in his fifth state of the union speech last week, he never mentioned the Keystone pipeline, and he talked about climate less than oil drilling — in fact the whole topic of energy in America got less time than any year since 2011.
It's not just a matter of word choice and phrasing. Expectations for Obama's second term are low—and while his EPA is making some phenomenal progress on global warming pollution from power plants, his overall energy policy is as much about protecting Democrats in Congress and making friends with Big Oil money as it is about about saving the only planet we'll ever call home.
So what's an environmentalist to do? It's one of those times. And it's no time to lose heart.
When we started fighting Keystone a few years ago, people said we were crazy . . . that the pipeline was a foregone conclusion, that we would never piss off Canada (of all allies) or stop Big Oil's #1 wish-list item, and that the Koch brothers and other Big Oil backers would outspend us $1 billion to none.
Those nay-sayers were right about the opposition, but they were dead wrong about the outcome. Despite being outspent by billions of dollars, rallies in the street and mass arrests in protest have stalled, delayed and all but stopped Keystone. We've already done what many said was impossible—using this symbol of climate-killing extreme energy to unite an international movement of millions to say NO to drilling, spilling, pipelines and climate disaster.
It's been an inspiring ride. But it's not over, in fact it's just getting interesting. It's (another) one of those times—time to show up in the streets creatively, peacefully, visibly and speak the only language this White House has ever really understood. Time to show them again that the power of organized people is louder than the power of organized money. If you want to see it for yourself, or renew your commitment to the planet and the people fighting for it—show up tonight at 6pm—it's going to be one of those times.
See you tonight!