18 Top Climate Scientists Call on President Obama to Reject Keystone XL

For immediate release
Jan 15, 2013

Nation’s Top Climate Scientists Urge President Obama to Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

OAKLAND CA — Eighteen of the nation’s top climate scientists released a letter to President Obama today urging him to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. 

“Eighteen months ago some of us wrote you about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, explaining why in our opinion its construction ran counter to both national and planetary interests,”  wrote the scientists. “Nothing that has happened since has changed that evaluation; indeed, the year of review that you asked for on the project made it clear exactly how pressing the climate issue really is.”

Indeed the past year has shown that climate change is here. A few months after Superstorm Sandy flooded parts of the Northeast, NOAA announced last week that the average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.2 degrees above normal and a full degree higher than the previous warmest year recorded — 1988. 

The State Department is expected to soon release its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The department’s previous pipeline EIS downplayed climate risks by arguing that the tar sands would be developed with or without Keystone XL and therefore the project had no responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning tar sands oil. 

But two of Canada’s largest banks, TD Economics and CIBC, have recently said that without added capacity, “Canada’s oil industry is facing a serious challenge to its long-term growth” and that “Canada needs pipe — and lots of it — to avoid the opportunity cost of stranding over a million barrels a day of potential crude oil growth.”

The Obama Administrations has promised action on climate change but if KXL is approved, the Administration would be actively supporting and encouraging the growth of an industry which has demonstrably serious effects on climate.

Thousands of concerned citizens will come to Washington, DC on February 17th, President’s Day weekend, to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Rally information is at www.350.org/presidentsday.

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1. Full text of the letter: 

Dear Mr. President,

You take office for the second time at a critical moment. As you may know, the U.S. has just recorded the hottest year in its history, beating the old mark by a full degree; the same year that saw the deep Midwest drought, and the fury of Hurricane Sandy, also witnessed the rapid and unprecedented melt of the Arctic ice pack. 

If we are to restrain the rise in the planet’s temperature, it will require strong action from, among others, the planet’s sole superpower. Some of that work will be difficult, requiring the cooperation of Congress. But other steps are relatively easy.

Eighteen months ago some of us wrote you about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, explaining why in our opinion its construction ran counter to both national and planetary interests. Nothing that has happened since has changed that evaluation; indeed, the year of review that you asked for on the project made it clear exactly how pressing the climate issue really is. 

We hope, as scientists, that you will demonstrate the seriousness of your climate convictions by refusing to permit Keystone XL; to do otherwise would be to undermine your legacy.

Thank you,
 

James Hansen

Research Scientist

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society

The Earth Institute, Columbia University

 

Ralph Keeling 

Director

Scripps CO2 Program Scripps Institution of Oceanography

 

John Harte

Professor of Ecosystem Sciences

University of California

 

Jason E. Box

Professor

Byrd Polar Research Center

 

John Abraham

Associate Professor, School of Engineering

University of St. Thomas

 

Ken Caldeira

Senior Scientist. Department of Global Ecology

Carnegie Institution

 

Michael MacCracken

Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs

Climate Institute

 

Michael E. Mann

Professor of Meteorology

Director, Earth System Science Center

The Pennsylvania State University

 

James McCarthy

Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography

Harvard University

 

Michael Oppenheimer

Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs

Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences

Princeton University

 

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences

The University of Chicago

 

Richard Somerville

Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

 

George M. Woodwell

Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist

Woods Hole Research Center

 

Mauri Pelto

Department of Environmental Science

Nichols College

 

David Archer

Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences

The University of Chicago

 

Dr. Ted Scambos

Lead Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center

University of Colorado at Boulder

 

Terry L. Root

Senior Fellow

Stanford University

 

Alan Robock, Professor II 

Distinguished Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences

Rutgers University

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. 

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