Victory! We’ve killed the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline!
By Bill McKibben
We won. You won.
The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that we’ve been fighting for months has been effectively killed. The President didn’t outright reject the Keystone XL pipeline permit, but a few minutes ago he sent the pipeline back for a thorough re-review that will delay it til 2013. Most analysts agree: the pipeline will never get built.
The President explicitly noted climate change, along with the pipeline route, as one of the factors that a new review would need to assess. There’s no way, with an honest review, that a pipeline that helps speed the tapping of the world’s second-largest pool of carbon can pass environmental muster.
It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. A month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. A done deal has come spectacularly undone. Our movement spoke loudly about climate change and President Obama responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in the United States in recent years, so that makes this an important day.
The President deserves thanks for making this call — it’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash. The deepest thanks, however, go to the incredible, diverse movement that helped ramp up the pressure to give the President the room to make this call. And it means so much that this day is shared by our allies around the world — the people who have stood in solidarity, signed petitions, and organized actions to let us know that you’re fighting in this movement right along with us.
Our fight, of course, is barely begun. Some in our movement will say that this decision is just politics as usual: that the President wants us off the streets — and off his front lawn — until after the election, at which point the administration can approve the pipeline, alienating its supporters without electoral consequence. The President should know that if this pipeline proposal somehow reemerges from the review process we will use every tool at our disposal to keep it from ever being built.
if there’s a lesson of the last few months, both in our work and in the Occupy encampments around the world, it’s that sometimes we have to put our bodies on the line and take to the streets to make our voices heard.
We’ll be stepping up our efforts in the months ahead, expanding our work to take on all the forms of ‘extreme energy’ now coming to the fore around the world: mountaintop removal coal mining, deep sea oil drilling, “fracking” for gas and oil. We’ll keep sending you updates; you keep letting us know what we need to do next.
Last week, scientists announced that the planet had poured a record amount of CO2 into the atmosphere last year; that’s a sign of how desperate our battle is. But we take courage from today’s White House announcement; it gives us some clues about how to fight going forward — and not just in the US, but in every corner of the earth.
I’m going to bed tired tonight. But I’ll get up in the morning ready for the next battle, more confident because I know you’re part of this fight too.
Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team
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More on tar sands and the fight to prevent the Keystone XL pipeline:
- Solidarity: Occupy Wall Street + the Climate Movement
- Government launches probe of Keystone XL process for corruption
- Bill McKibben: 12,000 Stand shoulder to shoulder against Keystone XL
- Ten Thousand demonstrators surround White House to block the Keystone XL dirty oil pipeline
- It’s not jobs vs environment – it’s clean jobs vs dirty jobs
- Which banks are the worst? Royal Bank of Canada funds tar sands
- Tar sands oil pipeline could contaminate US heartland
- Why we should block the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline – Sen. Bernie Sanders