Obama rejects KXL

It’s been a few months since I’ve been on the air.  There is absolutely no better news I could come off my sabbatical with than that the Keystone XL pipeline project is dead. President Obama this morning announced the US rejection of the application.  There is enormous significance in this on several levels:

  • The United States, led by the President and the Secretary of State, will go to the climate conference in Paris this month armed not only with solid policy and practice to reduce greenhouse gases and promote renewables greatly engendered by the administration’s actions over the last six and a half years, but with a resounding statement that the US is committed to these ends.
  • The environmental movement, in the US and beyond, has taken the KXL on board as a critical issue and won.  I wrote in my book three years ago that the movement was helping to “clear the political space” for the Administration to make such a bold decision.  I said at a rally against the KXL two years ago, after Sandy devastated New York City, that the President heard what was being said by environmentalists. We activists, led by the estimable Bill McKibben and all the many others from the Sierra Club, NRDC, and hundreds of national and local groups, fought hard and now can move on, with this extraordinary victory to celebrate and build on, to more key fights.
  • The power of the oil lobby is waning.  They are losing money, they are being investigated for their criminal lies, and demand destruction for oil will continue.  Not incidentally, the recent Canadian rejection of “the oil-hungry Conservatives led by Stephen Harper” and the installation of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party will certainly slow the momentum for tar sands production and transportation.

John Kerry, a climate hawk in his Senate years, and as the Secretary of State, first rejected the pipeline today in his official determination.  He made several key points:

  • The proposed project has a negligible impact on our energy security.
  • The proposed project would not lead to lower gas prices for American consumers.
  • The proposed project’s long-term contribution to our economy would be marginal.
  • The proposed project raises a range of concerns about the impact on local communities, water supplies, and cultural heritage sites.
  • The proposed project would facilitate transportation into our country of a particularly dirty source of fuel.

The President echoed these findings in his announcement.  This was an announcement that four years ago you would have gotten excellent odds would never be made.  But I, for one, have had faith in this President and this administration since the beginning that they would push hard to do the right thing on climate and energy.  I have also had faith, grounded in my personal experience over 40 years, that the environmental movement would continue to find ways to advance sustainability and gain the key victories that the planet and its people need to prosper.  Party on.

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