The long and worthy fight over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is at an end, and the time for a decision draws near. We appreciate your veto of the congressional bill, and we fully support an outright rejection of the permit. We have followed the question of Keystone XL’s impact for many years, and those years have clarified a few key points.
First, most of those who care about this project oppose it, and with an intensity matched by few issues in recent time.
Beginning with Tribal Nations and with farmers and ranchers, the opposition spread over time to climate scientists, college students, moms, financial experts, many trade unionists, renewable energy proponents, nurses, artists and an ever-growing swath of the general population. A historic number of them were arrested for this cause; millions wrote public comments, or emailed their elected officials; everyone engaged in public dialogue in precisely the fashion you have asked. Everyday people have stood up to the money on the other side, and done so with civility, firmness, creativity and passion.
Second, it’s now clearer than ever that the tar sands pose an incredible risk to the health and safety of our families and a livable planet.
As a major study in Nature last month confirmed, a serious effort to control global warming must keep the ‘dirtiest oil in the world’ safely underground. Keystone XL must be evaluated not just as a pipeline but as part of the tar sands industry’s plans for rapid and reckless expansion. As you have stated, the climate impacts of major infrastructure projects are a matter of national — and international — interest. Rejecting Keystone XL is the kind of principled choice leaders need to make. There is no way to reconcile this pipeline with a serious climate policy.
Third, the arguments for this pipeline — never strong — have disappeared on closer examination.
It is not a potent job-creating tool, nor a route to American energy independence; tar sands expansion is not inevitable; and the sheer number of leaks and spills means a tar sands pipeline would pose a clear danger to public health. It is, instead, a classic boondoggle, whose only beneficiaries will be a handful of rich oil companies while our families take on all the risk.
Many of the choices that define a presidency come by accident or chance — some storm or crisis that demands a quick response. But this one is firmly in your control. Climate change will be a defining issue of this century. Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline will powerfully demonstrate your commitment to stopping the rising of the oceans, set the stage for further climate action and build a legacy worth sharing.