Backbeat, the Word is on the Street that Obama May Get Serious on Climate

I know you’ve heard it all before… but now there may be less doubt that Obama  will come clean about his plans to combat climate change.

This year could be a make or break year in the fight to combat climate change.  Murmurs are flying around DC that President Obama is set to make an announcement in the coming weeks addressing our energy future and how that will affect our climate.  One thing that weighs heavily on the minds of many Americans is what this could mean for the future of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The pending proclamation is an apropos one for the President to draw the line on KXL.  President Obama ran on the platform of change—change that meant many things for politics and the environment.  To the dismay of many of his greatest supporters the promise to take action for the environment has thus far gone unrequited.  With TransCanada breathing down America’s neck (and preemptively tearing up its land) to get approval for their tar sands-transporting pipeline, the time for making good on his promise is now.
Tar Sands at Press event

A recent press conference held by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer brought together a slew of advocates calling on the Obama Administration to bring those campaign commitments to fruition.  Roughly a dozen speakers and activists stood up to tell the President to take a stand against TransCanada.

Steyer has kicked off his own digital campaign called We Love Our Land aimed at mobilizing Americans around the message that Keystone XL is wrong for our future and would be a major step backward in the fight against climate change.  The reasoning given in support of KXL is riddled with misinformation and outright deceit.  In Steyer’s words, the argument for the pipeline being built is “a house of cards that cannot stand.”

Included among the fallacious reasons TransCanada is putting forth in favor of the project are the promise of more jobs, price reductions at the pump, a worry-free pipeline that is 100% safe and environmentally friendly, and a greater direct benefit to the U.S. and its energy supply.  The truth of the matter is less rosy.

The Nitty-Gritty

Not only will the pipeline bring a mere 35 permanent jobs, it will not lower prices, it will not secure a more independent energy future for the U.S., it will not guarantee that any of the tar sands will actually go to or benefit the U.S.

The pipeline is a not a means of getting tar sands to America, it’s little more than a bypass to getting it to the Gulf of Mexico to be shipped to foreign countries like China.

As we have already seen with the recent tar sands spill in Arkansas, it is an invitation to bring dangerous, undocumented (not even the EPA is made aware of the chemical slurry that goes into making thick tar sands viscous enough to be pumped down a pipe) sticky, chemical toxins through neighborhoods, farms, waterways, and wildlife habitats. Putting our land, wildlife and health on the line for a foreign company to reap in profits at very minimal benefit to us all while exacerbating the climate crisis shouldn’t even be considered, let alone a possibility.

Gambling with the planet on this level is asking for too much risk with too little reward.

Exxon Mobil pipeline oil spill, Mayflower, AR, March 2013 (AJ Zolten)
Exxon Mobil pipeline oil spill, Mayflower, AR, March 2013 (AJ Zolten)
Someone who has seen the worst of what an approved pipeline could mean is Arkansas citizen and vice president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Ellen McNulty.  She too participated in the press conference to hearten KXL opponents to elevate the issue at this critical time.

McNulty and others’ first-hand account of the fallout of what was a relatively minor episode detailed a community left in the dark about what had ruined their land, embedded in their soil, contaminated their water and sickened their health.  Simply put by McNulty, “We cannot afford the risk.”

With a momentous declaration looming, the time to speak up is now.  Farms and homesteads are already under the bulldozer despite residents’ litigation to stop them.  Habitats are already being destroyed and no matter what TransCanada would have you believe, this is not in our best interest to agree to—it’s not in our interest at all.

Additionally, claims by the company of its complete safety are not only wholly untrue, but also rather insulting to our collective intelligence—nothing is foolproof and those that are familiar with TransCanada are fully aware of their far from stellar track record.  When just one crack could mean utter catastrophe the choice is clear—the Keystone pipeline must be rejected.

To round-out the ode to Oasis–maybe, he’s going to be the one to save future generations from the worst of climate change.

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