Over 130 Udall Scholars Urge Sen. Mark Udall to Vote No on Keystone XL

Senator Mark Udall, his brother Randy, and his father, the legendary environmentalist and Congressman Morris K. Udall.

Over 130 recipients of the prestigious Udall Scholarship have signed onto a letter urging Colorado Senator Mark Udall to vote against any attempt by the Senate to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We are proud recipients of the Udall Scholarship and are writing to respectfully urge you to vote against any attempt in the Senate to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” reads the letter. “All of us received the Udall Scholarship because of our work to protect the environment or advance tribal policy and Native public health. The Keystone XL pipeline attacks all three.”

Each year, the Udall Foundation awards the Udall Scholarship to 50 students across the country on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, American Indian health care, or tribal public policy. Congress established the Udall Foundation in 1992 to honor Morris K. Udall’s 30 years of Congressional service and enhanced it in 1999 to honor Stewart L. Udall’s vast public service.

Although he has opposed the Keystone XL pipeline in the past, Senator Mark Udall is telling constituents that he is “undecided” on the current Senate proposals that would bypass the State Department’s formal review process and force President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Over the last week, he has come under increasing pressure from young people and environmentalists to come out against the controversial project and honor his family’s environmental legacy.

“Your father once said, ‘The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: to fight for survival.’ People along the pipeline route are already fighting for their survival,” write the 132 Udall Scholars. “We hope that you will stand with them, and with all the people who will be impacted by climate change, and vote against any attempt to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. As proud recipients of a scholarship honoring your family’s environmental and tribal policy accomplishments, we encourage you to do the right thing.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Senator Mark Udall,

We are proud recipients of the Udall Scholarship and are writing to respectfully urge you to vote against any attempt in the Senate to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

All of us received the Udall Scholarship because of our work to protect the environment or advance tribal policy and Native public health. The Keystone XL pipeline attacks all three.

The environmental impacts of Keystone XL are well documented. The pipeline would carry over 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil. Tar sands are one of the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, with the production of tar sands crude causing three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. This April, 100 leading scientists and economists wrote to President Obama, “We urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.” One of our nation’s top climatologists Dr. James Hansen has called Keystone XL “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet” and warns that if the tar sands are fully exploited it could mean “game over” for the climate.

Keystone XL is also a threat to children and communities all along the pipeline route. The pipeline begins in Alberta, Canada, where First Nations are facing devastating environmental and health impacts. Cancer rates in places like Fort Chipewyan, in the heart of the tar sands, are 30 percent greater than expected, with certain rare cancers associated with petroleum production even further elevated. Along the pipeline route, ranchers, farmers and tribes are at risk of a major pipeline spill contaminating their land and water, including the Ogallala aquifer which provides drinking water for millions of people. The pipeline ends in Texas, at oil refineries which are endangering the health of children and communities that must live with their toxic pollution.

But Keystone XL isn’t just a threat to those living directly in the path of the pipeline. Keystone’s greenhouse gas emissions put all of us at risk, especially in climate vulnerable places like Colorado.

According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program–an effort backed by the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, NASA and others–climate change will cause “more frequent heat waves, extreme precipitation, wildfires, and water scarcity.” Wildfires in Colorado have already claimed numerous lives and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damages. In 2013 alone, the costs of fighting fires across the West totaled over $1 billion. Extreme precipitation has also taken its toll. The Colorado floods in 2013 were triggered by 15 inches of rainfall in just seven days, killing eight people and causing $2 billion in damages. Climate change is loading the dice for more disasters. Keystone XL would only make the situation worse.

Thankfully, there’s a better way forward. We can help stop climate change and create real energy independence by investing in clean energy. This would be as good for the economy as it would be for the planet. Studies show that investing in clean energy creates three times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels. Take Colorado, where there are already 72,000 people in employed in “green goods and services.” The wind sector alone supported nearly 5,000 in-state jobs in 2011. It’s no wonder that 64 percent of Colorado residents believe increasing the use of renewable energy is good for job growth.

Your father once said, “The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: to fight for survival.” People along the pipeline route are already fighting for their survival. Just two weeks ago, a group of ranchers, farmers and tribal leaders calling themselves the Cowboy and Indian Alliance held a five-day encampment on the National Mall to call on President Obama to reject Keystone XL and protect their families.

We hope that you will stand with them, and with all the people who will be impacted by climate change, and vote against any attempt to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. As proud recipients of a scholarship honoring your family’s environmental and tribal policy accomplishments, we encourage you to do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Abigail Borah, Abigail Krich, Adam Hasz, Aditya Nochur, Adrienne Stolwyk, Akhila Narla, Alexandra Gerrish, Amanda Fencl, Andrew Lee, Anthony Swift, Ben Wessel, Betsy Scherzer, Brinda Sarathy, Callie Mabry, Camila Thorndike, Cara Thuringer, Caroline Hansley, Caroline Howe, Charlotte Basch, Chelsea Johnson, Christie Klimas, Colin Higgins, Courtney Dufford, Craig Segall, Daniel Jones, Daniel Sherrell, David Fisher, David Kellner-Rode, Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, Drew DeLorenzo, Eli Zigas, Elliott Chiu, Emily Bacha, Emily Duma, Eric Sannerud, Erica Berry, Erica Tauzer, Ethan Buckner, Ethan Heil, Ethan Lovdal Butler, Gabriel Dunsmith, Gabrielle Hinahara, Garik Sadovy, Gillian Locascio, Heather Hatzenbuhler, Ian Karra, Jameson Henn, Jared Duval, Jenifer Collins, Jennifer Jones, Jennifer Rowe, Jennifer Sokolove, Jeremy Caves, Jeremy Dertien, Jeremy Friedman, Jeremy Pivor, Jess Grady-Benson, John Deans, Jonathan Lambert, Kaitlin Tasker, Kara Kaufman, Karli Moore, Kate Hadley, Katharine Leigh, Katherine Gasner, Katherine Luke, Katherine McEachern, Keiko Budech, Keioshiah Amber Peter, Kellie M. Phillips, Kristin Babson Dobbin, Kristina G. Fisher, Lauren Horning, Lauren Ressler, Lesley Joseph, Leslye Penticoff, Lisa Curtis, Lissa Firor, Madeline Friend, Margaret Heraty, Margaret Lindeman, Maria Asencio, Marilyn Waite, Marion Boulicault, Marissa Kramer, Mark Schofield, Matt Faunt, Matt Kazinka, Matt Maiorana, Matthew Kirkegaard, Megan M. Gregory, Meredith DeBoom, Micah Leinbach, Michael Diamond, Michael Sandmel, Mitch Hunter, Molly Schriber, Morissa Zuckerman, Naomi Wente, Natalie Hoidal, Natalya Gallo, Nicki Jimenez, Nitin Sekar, Pryce Hadley, Rachel Cook, Rachel Ferguson, Rachel Rye Butler, Raychel Santo, Rebecca Rast, Renae Steichen, Rowan Sprague, Sam Beavin, Samantha Sekar, Sarah Hardy, Scott Perez, Seth Silverman, Shannon Clark, Shaza Hussein, Sherwin Racehorse, Stephen Bronskill, Steven Carrion, Terry McCloskey, Theresa Murphy, Theresa Murphy, Trisha Shrum, Trudi Zundel, Tsechu Dolma, Tyler Wilkinson-Ray, Wieteke Holthuijzen, and William LePage.

 

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