FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2012
Progressive Leaders in Congress Rally Against Keystone XL Pipeline
23 of Congress’ Top Progressive Leaders Sign an Open Letter Urging President Obama to Take the Country “Forward on Climate”
WASHINGTON, DC -- Progressive leaders in Congress joined the Sierra Club and 350.org at a press conference at the Capitol this afternoon to release a letter calling on President Obama to take the country “Forward on Climate” and say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.
“You cannot be talking about doing something proactive about climate change while approving the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva at Thursday’s press event, “We're now in a position to lead, rather than follow the worn, tired path industry has laid for us.”
The members of Congress who signed onto the Forward on Climate letter included leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, representing a cross-section of the diverse coalition who powered President Obama to re-election in 2012.
“The idea KXL will deliver energy independence isn't just a lie, it's a sad lie,” said Florida Representative Alan Grayson.
California Representative Mark Takano and Virginia Representative James Moran also attended the press conference this afternoon. Other signatories of the Congressional letter include Representatives Steve Cohen, John Conyers Jr., Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, Peter Welch, John Lewis, and Earl Blumenauer.
On Tuesday, February 13, 48 environmental and civil rights leaders, including president emeritus of the NAACP Julian Bond and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. were arrested for a civil disobedience protesting Keystone XL at the White House. This Sunday, tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in the Forward on Climate rally to push President Obama to lead on climate change.
“At the rally, Americans will ask you [President Obama] to take a stand for the climate and reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limit carbon pollution from our nation's dirty power plants, and fire up our clean energy economy,” wrote 23 members of Congress in the “Forward on Climate” letter released today. “As progressive Members of Congress, we support those who will be part of the largest climate rally in America’s history.”
The mobilizations around Keystone XL and the President’s climate rhetoric in the State of the Union, as well as the introduction of a new climate bill from Senators Boxer and Sanders earlier this morning, are creating a new sense of momentum amongst climate advocates.
“This is the biggest week for climate change in Washington, DC in a very long while,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben. “The Keystone XL pipeline has fired up more people than any environmental issue in a generation. Now, it’s time for the President to live up to his rhetoric and say no to this climate disaster.”
1. More information on this weekend’s rally can be found at: forwardonclimate.org
2. Full list of signatories of the “Forward on Climate” letter include Representatives Raul Grijalva, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Donna F. Edwards, Sam Farr, Janice Hahn, Donna M. Chistensen, William Lacy Clay, Jr., John Conyers, Jr., Keith Ellison, Alan Grayson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Jerrold Nadler, Chellie Pingree, Mark Takano, John Lewis, James Moran Grace Napolitano, Jan Schakowsky, Peter Welch and Earl Blumenauer.
3. Full Text of the Letter
February 14th, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
On Sunday, February 17th, people from across the country will come together for the Forward on Climate rally in support of your leadership to mitigate imminent climate change. At the rally, Americans will ask you to take a stand for the climate and reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limit carbon pollution from our nation's dirty power plants, and fire up our clean energy economy. As progressive Members of Congress, we support those who will be part of the largest climate rally in America’s history.
As you know, our nation has waited far too long for climate change policies that benefit current and future generations. While Americans have spoken loudly on the urgency of addressing climate change, in the 112th Congress House Republicans voted over 300 times to weaken the protection of the environment, including to block action to address climate change, to halt efforts to reduce air and water pollution, and to undermine protections for public lands and coasts.
Climate change not only threatens public health and natural environments, it also severely threatens our economy. Projections show that burning the recoverable Alberta tar sands oil would make avoiding an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of the earth’s temperature impossible. NYU Law School's Environmental Law Center estimates that this amount of warming could permanently cut the US GDP by 2.5%. Additionally, increases in extreme weather events as a result of climate change have damaging effects on jobs, crop production, and transportation. For the U.S. economy as a whole, 2011 was a historic year for expensive weather-related disasters, costing taxpayers $52 billion.
While the high cost of climate change weighs heavily on the backs of middle- and lower- income Americans, Republicans continue to give handouts to those who need help the least – fossil fuel corporations. American taxpayers are set to give away more than $110 billion to the oil, gas, and coal industries over the next decade. Clearly, we cannot afford it. The five largest oil companies made over $1 trillion in profits in the last decade, and some paid no federal income taxes for part of that time-- they certainly do not need it.
A proactive response to climate change provides the greatest opportunity to reconstruct a truly secure economy and put people back to work. We need to create good-paying jobs that retrofit buildings, green our eroding water and transportation systems, and build a new alternative infrastructure for the future. According to the Political Economy Research Institute at the
University of Massachusetts–Amherst, investment in a green infrastructure program would create nearly four times as many jobs as an equal investment in oil and gas.
Republicans argue that the nation must choose jobs and national security over the environment. But in an era of climate crisis, this is a false choice. It is urgent and essential that we begin investing in a new sustainable economy that puts people to work mitigating climate change. We stand with our friends in the climate and labor movements in support of immediate climate action that creates jobs.
It is time to take the billions in subsidies going to oil companies and invest instead in a sector that both creates jobs and protects the planet. In the face of Republican obstruction in Congress, we look toward your leadership to address the most offensive drivers of climate change, which threaten the prosperity of our nation.
CC: Secretary John F. Kerry