Thanks to you, people power once more squeezed out a victory over oil money. 

Today the Senate defeated legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote was close, but given that this pipeline was a ‘no brainer’ a year ago, it’s pretty remarkable that people power was able to keep working, even in the back rooms of the oil-soaked Senate. (See the full vote count here) Thanks to your hard work — most recently sending 802,000 messages to the Senate in just 24 hours, not to mention all the calls to your Senators — we have kept the pipeline at bay yet again. It’s unlikely the Senate will take another vote on Keystone XL, but then again, one can’t underestimate the corrupting influence of the money Big Oil is pumping into Capitol Hill.

Still, the news isn’t all good. Last week, TransCanada announced plans to build the half of the pipeline that runs from Oklahoma to Texas; and while it doesn’t let them get new tar sands oil across the Canadian border, it’s a blow for folks along the southern half of the route, who we’ll keep fighting side by side with. And TransCanada also announced plans to reapply for a permit to cross the border—so even the partial win we’ve got at the moment may turn out to be temporary. But for right now, there is pipe rusting in big piles across the heartland of the country, instead of sitting underground pumping dirty oil at 700,000 barrels per day. Our victory may not last forever. But today big oil actually lost something big.

We’ve been playing defense for months, now we’ve got to go on offense.

The reason this fight has been so hard is because of the financial power of the fossil fuel industry, which brings me to where we go from here. Going forward, we’ll be working with the huge majority of Americans who want to end government handouts to the fossil fuel industry. We’ve learned a lot, not all of it savory, about how the political process works and we’re going to put that to use.

The problem couldn’t be more blatant—Senators and Representatives take money from people like Exxon and Koch Industries, and they give them gifts, with our money. It’s gone on for years, and it needs to stop. The vote today is a perfect example: the Senators voting for the pipeline have received $27,552,302 from fossil fuel industries, on average 3 times more than those voting against it.

This fight will stretch out all year long, and you’ll be getting requests for specific actions in your towns and cities in coming weeks. The first thing we’ll need to do is get every Representative, Senator and candidate on the record about their stand on subsidies.

This email isn’t to ask you to do anything in particular, besides just get ready for the next chapter. I think we all need a little well-deserved breather here.

All these battles are connected. We’re finally starting to stand up to the most powerful industry on earth. Sometimes we’ll do it by going to jail, and sometimes by dialing the phone, and sometimes we will win, and sometimes we will lose, but we are—day by day, action by action—building a movement. Together. 

Thank you. 

–Bill McKibben


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