Professor Newt Flunks Keystone XL 101

The final Republican Party presidential debate was last night and, like the dozen or so they’ve already held, this one didn’t lack for bizarre moments.

Among the topics was Keystone XLthe filthy tar sands oil pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf coast—which has taken center stage recently as Big Oil and their allies in Congress try to ram it through despite objections from, well, just about everyone else.

Speaker of the House John Boehner upped the ante last week by putting a rider (an unrelated provision) into a bill to extend the payroll tax cut for middle-class families, in order to sidestep further review and force Obama to issue a permit for the pipeline.  The President has vowed to veto the legislation if it comes to his desk with the rider, but that hasn’t stopped Boehner and co. from taking the rhetoric to a new level.

Gingrich Backs Big Oil and Pipeline at Republican Debate

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich thinks tar sands are swell...despite their horrific environmental impact (photo: Gage Skidmore)
Newt Gingrich, who was Speaker of the House during the Clinton administration, sold out for Big Oil during last night’s debate by casting the issue as “liberals vs. families”:

“The president of the United States cannot figure out that it is — I’m using mild words here — utterly irrational to say, ‘I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco.'”

It’s such a caricature that it would be funny…if he weren’t so serious.

Bill McKibben, the founder of and a strong opponent of the pipeline, was left shaking his head.

“What’s utterly irrational,” said McKibben, “is Gingrich’s climate denial.”

Jane Kleeb, who helped organize the grassroots fight against Keystone XL in Nebraska, said that, “Professor Newt needs to hit the books and learn about the real concerns of farmers and ranchers whose land and water this pipeline risks.”

Because really, that’s what this is about – not some imaginary fight pitting environmentalists against the middle class.

Watch Out Newt–Pipeline Opposition More Diverse Than Gingrich Giving It Credit For

The coalition that came together to stop Keystone was so broad and diverse – Tribal groups, landowners, conservationists, scientists, and ordinary citizens across the country – that it wound up among the most unifying movements in recent memory.

And as Jeremy Symons of National Wildlife Federation put it:

“We are the middle man on this deal.  Canada gets the jobs, China gets the oil, and America gets the spills, refinery pollution and higher gas prices.”

The American people know that tar sands are a terrible choice for our economy and the environment. Speaker Boehner and Mr. Gingrich can whine all they want but it doesn’t hide the fact that they’ve flunked Keystone 101.


Take ActionTell Congress and President Obama to stick up for people and wildlife, and stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.