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Thursday, October 27, 2016

A group of 145 former staffers for President Barack Obama are speaking out in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline extension, urging the president to “cement your legacy as a climate champion by rejecting” the controversial plan.

President Obama is expected to make a decision on the pipeline extension by this winter. The extension, which would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day — mostly from tar sands in Alberta to refineries in Texas — is bitterly opposed by environmentalists who warn that it will have a terrible impact on the environment while providing little economic gain.

The staffers, who are veterans of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, made their opposition to the pipeline known in an open letter released Thursday.

“You already know all the reasons we can’t afford this pipeline — that it will lock in gigatons of carbon pollution over the next four decades and that it could spill into our nation’s most valuable water sources –we’re just asking you to think of us when you make up your mind,” the letter reads. “Dozens of supporters across the country told us they were casting their ballot for someone they could count on to make the tough calls when it came to our security and our health care and our climate. They voted for you, Mr. President, because we told them you’d be on the right side of history when you had to make these calls. Because we knew you’d do the right thing and stop this pipeline.”

“Please don’t disappoint us,” the former staffers conclude. “Reject Keystone XL.”

On Friday, the 145 former staffers were joined in their opposition by a much more high-profile supporter of the president: Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine — who was the first governor outside Illinois to endorse Obama for president, and was Obama’s personal pick to chair the Democratic National Committee in 2009 — is one of a growing group of Senate Democrats who are prioritizing climate change as a top issue.

“By most accounts, oil from tar sands is 15 to 20 percent dirtier than conventional petroleum, and the process of extracting and refining it is more difficult and resource-intensive,” Kaine wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “Approving the pipeline would send a clear signal to the markets to expand the development of tar sands oil. Such an expansion would hurt our nation’s work to reduce carbon emissions. We have to make energy cleaner tomorrow than it is today. That’s why the president should block Keystone.”

“Someday when I am long retired from the Senate and kids ask me what I did for energy and the environment, I want to tell them a story about how the United States led the way with innovative solutions that created jobs, reduced pollution and tackled our energy challenges head-on,” Kaine concluded. “I hope the president gets to tell that same story long after he’s out of office.”

While Obama’s final decision on the pipeline is still yet to be determined, the president has recently stepped up his efforts to fight climate change through a series of new regulations and executive orders.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Sand_Cat

    Hope I’m wrong, but I think he’s going to cave.

    • highpckts

      I pray he doesn’t!!

  • charleo1

    This project will benefit no one, but the oil companies involved. And carries with it
    the potential for doing unprecedented, and irreparable harm to the environment.
    This is vitally important, so I implore you, don’t take my word. Find out for yourselves, what an outrageous risk the oil cartels are insisting we take for their profits. First, the oil extracted from the tar sands, is carbon rich goo. To which they must add additional environmentally toxic chemicals, to make it liquid enough to move thru the pipeline. Proponents of the pipeline, oil companies, scientist, and engineers who work for the oil, and refinery companies, and the adoring lap dog lackeys, in Washington. Who are, in theory, looking out for your best interests, say it’s a wonderful idea. This is exactly the time they start leading us down the primrose path, by insinuations. They insinuate it will provide 20,000 jobs! Than is, until they complete the job of digging a huge ugly ditch, right down the center of the Country. From Canada, to Houston TX. They, insinuate it will reduce the price of gas at the pump. This is to convince those who still believe the price of gas, has anything whatsoever to do with the supply of oil. In fact, some insinuate all this wonderful new supply of oil will go in one side of the refinery, come out the other as gasoline. Where it’s hauled immediately to the corner stores all across the Country. Happy days are here again! The truth is a lot less exciting. And really should piss people
    off. Because here we are, taking this huge environmental risk. So this sludge can
    be processed into diesel fuel, and shipped over to China to run their factories,
    that replaced our jobs. Now, if that don’t make you want to stand and chant,
    USA! USA! You probably only work for the oil companies in the same way most
    all of do. Vicariously, and aganist our will.

    • zappa24

      To elaborate on something charleo mentioned, the oil (and refined gas from that oil) that the Keystone pipeline would carry would be transported to the coast. Once there, the companies that own it would sell it to the place they can get the best price, which is someplace overseas. That’s why they want the pipeline to run to the coast. That would mean that oil and gas that has been keeping prices down in the Midwest would likely be sent to the Far East. The price of gas here would rise while dropping in China.

  • Dominick Vila

    Construction of the Keystone pipeline will only benefit people like the Koch brothers. The resulting gas shortages in the Midwest are likely to cause gas prices to rise. Our environment will, obviously, be affected by the pipeline and potential of highly corrosive Canadian oil. That, by the way, is the reason the people of Canada objected to the construction of that pipeline through their land. Exporting Canadian oil to China from U.S. ports will have minimal impact on our economy. Last, but not least, construction of a pipeline will only a couple of thousand workers, and fewer when the pipeline is built and the only task remaining is to maintain it.

    • ralphkr

      Actually, Dominick, I am sure that XL shall create many thousands of jobs in the US since cleaning up all the XL spills shall be extremely labor intensive. Consider that the proposed line shall be using a thinner metal than normal in the pipes manufactured in Canada and that the fluids being transported in those pipes shall be far more corrosive and toxic than normal and you can readily see all the many job opportunities generated by this abomination.

      • Dominick Vila

        Considering who owns the enterprise that will benefit the most from the construction of that pipeline, everything is possible. I wonder if those famous siblings also own oil spill cleanup companies…

  • Jim Myers

    It would be a HUGE hypocrisy for President Obama to run on a record of fighting climate change, and to then approve the XL Pipeline.

    • RobertCHastings

      Amen, brother, amen. We should ALL get together and go to the White House petition site.

      • Jim Myers

        Thanks for the reply.


  • RobertCHastings

    While the argument for development of the pipeline puts out highly favorable employment and economic numbers, most of them have been already proven bogus. The “thousands” of jobs promised is true, except they are temporary jobs that disappear as soon as the pipeline is built. The true number is more in the neighborhood of 250 permanent jobs. The economic benefit to the US is, at best, minimal, because the large majority of the oil piped to the refineries on the Gulf Coast will be sold to China and other polluters around the world, exacerbating an already serious problem in human-affected climate change. The pipeline, like fracking, presents serious risks to the environment while not giving an adequate Return On Investment. When things go wrong with fracking and the pipeline, is Wall Street going to cover the costs? Sure we can use the gas released and harvested through fracking; but the verdict is still not in regarding the damage to the environment. The verdict IS in regarding the pipeline. If the surrounding Canadian provinces refuse to allow the shale oil to be piped through their territories because of environmental damage that has ALREADY occurred in Canada AND in the US portion of the pipeline in the northern tier of states, then it should be obvious to most reasonable people that it is not a good idea.

  • irishtap

    Here is a clarion example of socialized risk playing to the end game of privatized rewards. “We the people” must demand an independent study documenting how the companies behind this project plan to show a defined public benefit analysis – for allowing this pipeline to happen. Exactly how – why – where and when will the public economic rewards be seen? All substantive conversation is forced to focus on economic benefit – as there certainly isn’t a credible argument for positive environmental outcome of any measure as it relates to this endeavor. If we are to accept as fact: 35 (permanent) full time jobs will be created due to this pipeline; what towns of the affected states along the pipeline route – will have employees of the Keystone XL, residing in their communities to spend income from their paycheck on local goods and services and contribute to the local tax base? Will this projected figure be enough to offset the long term consequences of a spill of (any) size? Is the entity responsible for manufacturing the iron for the project an American concern or will this product be supplied via dubious Chinese sources?

    How long will it take for one of these ’employees’ to have a “spill team” on site once a failure ocurrs? What is in place for containment and clean up? Has it been tested and proven either by simulation or real life event, to be effective? Is public health at risk from exposure to this material? Who is directly financially responsible should medical care be necessary from ingesting fumes or from skin contact related to this bitumen substance? Who pays for the guaranteed spike in food product prices associated with a destroyed aquifir? Will Keystone provide financial resources to re-establish farmers wiped out by such an event? Who will pay for the local population to acquire potable water for daily life after destruction of the water source? How exactly do the end products made from this very dirty material end up benefiting society in any small or substantial manner whatsoever?
    How can any ethical enterprise, justify the risk to society of catastrophic repercussions in allowing a time bomb be assembled to run through the middle of the country? Of course I realize this is all moot, since the cost from ecological degradation from the Canadian side of this affair alone, will be incalculable to our lives and our grandchildren’s lives, from the scientific studies already done.