by Rona Fried
I just got off the conference call celebrating the death of the Keystone Pipeline with many of the groups leading the charge.
Although it took 7 years of battle, President Obama officially rejected the Keystone Pipeline today!!
Obama said: "The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision."
While the Keystone pipeline would have little impact on US jobs or the economy, it would undermine US leadership on climate change and damage American energy security, he said.
"…we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can. If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now."
Obama was flanked by Biden and Kerry when he made the announcement today:
This is OUR DAY. Millions of people fought AND WON this David & Goliath battle against the powerful petroleum industry and their pals in Canadian and American governments.
"This is the first time EVER that a president has rejected a major fossil fuel project because of its climate impacts," says Bill McKibben of 350.org.
The timing is perfect and Obama knows it. Keystone activists and many Democrats urged him to make the announcement now to pave the way for the UN Climate Summit in Paris late this month. It sends a powerful message about the United States’ resolve to combat climate change and the urgency of "leaving the oil underground."
The fight started with Canada’s First Nations, asking for help to prevent the growth of tar sands. It spread to tribes and environmentalists in the US, but the final straw was when TransCanada threatened eminent domain on farmers’ and ranchers’ private land in Nebraska. Knowing they would be in court for at least a year, TransCanada asked the State Department to put the Keystone application on hold, hoping the next president would approve the project. But that backfired!
I knew John Kerry would reject Keystone as Secretary of State. As a long-time environmental champion, he understands what is at stake. While Hillary Clinton recently voiced her opposition to the Keystone pipeline, the State Department approved it twice under her "leadership."
10 Nobel Laureates congratulated President Obama: "It is with great pleasure we write to thank you for rejecting the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The decision you have made and the leadership you have shown by rejecting this pipeline marks a critical turning point. A dangerous fossil fuel driven future can no longer be considered inevitable; the climate impacts have become too serious and too devastating to ignore. The Canadian tar sands are part of a future we can’t afford."
They urged him to reject the pipeline in 2011 and 2013.
Pipeline Opposition Could End Tar Sands Growth
For those who say Canada will find other ways to export tar sands oil, think again.
Carrying the oil on trains is too expensive and every pipeline Canada’s federal government has tried to push through is under assault. They all face legal challenges, protests and constant opposition in Canada and the US – Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Clipper pipelines, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, and TransCanada’s Energy East.
The oil industry will run out of transportation capacity as soon as 2017, says Oil Change International, in Lockdown: The End of Growth in the Tar Sands.
"It’s simple – without more pipeline capacity, the tar sands can not be recklessly expanded," says Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska. "People are standing in the way of Keystone XL and other equally risky and unnecessary pipelines. Gone are the days when Big Oil can buy their way to approval of their risky pipelines. We the people have changed the tar sands pipeline game forever."
While low oil prices have certainly helped, at least five major tar sands projects have been cancelled or tabled because of the lack of pipeline capacity available to get oil to market.
Meanwhile, in the largest study to date, the US Department of Energy confirmed that Canadian tar sands oil produces 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. It is the dirtiest oil on earth.
Alberta Doubles Carbon Tax
Another nail in the tar sands coffin is that, along with low oil prices, tar sands producers will have to pay higher carbon taxes – double, in fact. On January 1, the tax rises from $15 per ton to $20, and reaches $30 in 2017, says Alberta‘s Environment Minister.
Oil companies will also have to meet much tougher efficiency targets. They must reduce carbon intensity 15% in 2016 and 20% in 2017.
Under Harper, Canada actually had a public relations budget to promote tar sands oil – $30 million in 2013 alone for international "outreach" and to "advance energy literacy in First Nations communities," reports The Guardian.
Get Involved, Now’s the Time!
On November 28-29 – the weekend before the Paris Climate Summit starts – there will be massive global actions.
The message: Turn off the dirty, dangerous fossil fuel economy, and turn on a just transition to 100% renewable energy.
Find out more: