[Debate] (Fwd) Big victory for US climate activists: Obama retreats on tar sands pipeline

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Nov 11 04:27:48 GMT 2011

On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 5:20 AM, Clayton Thomas-Muller
<monsterredlight at gmail.com>  wrote:

> Indigenous Environmental Network
> Mother Earth Achieves a Victory Today with Obama Administration Decision to
> Delay the Keystone XL Pipeline Decision
> November 10, 2011
> Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network says:
> "The position taken by the Obama administration today to delay the permit
> for the Trans Canada Keystone XL pipeline in order to do a new environmental
> review is the right decision -- an ethical decision. We applaud President
> Obama and the State Department for listening to the voices of youth, elders,
> faith-based groups, labor, students, environmental organizations, Native
> Nations, and those living along the proposed pipeline, who are standing
> united against dirty oil from the tar sands. This is the beginning of a new
> era in which people are demanding that their rights be recognized. The need
> to protect our sources of clean water, to fight for stabilizing climate
> change, and to say "No" to corporate polluters setting the agenda in
> Washington is now. We must not let up. The struggle for environmental and
> economic justice - for energy and climate justice - and the fight for Native
> Treaty Rights must continue. Mother Earth has achieved victory today."
> Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network, Keystone XL Pipeline
> organizer says:
> "I applaud President Obama for standing up for Mother Earth, and making this
> decision. This is an important first step to stop the expansion of the tar
> sands."
> Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network Tribal Campus Climate
> Challenge organizer says:
> "The decision to delay the pipeline is a victory and I will gladly celebrate
> that victory; even if only for a moment.  I live in North Dakota where the
> Keystone I pipeline still runs through and still has the potential to
> continue to leak and perhaps even be expanded.  So, I will not become
> complacent nor quit speaking out against the Canadian tar sands until they
> are shut down permanently.  When I begin to hear the U.S. Administration
> talking about alternatives to the fossil fuel industry, and the creation of
> green jobs, instead of alternatives to pipeline routes it will truly be
> music to my ears; then and only then will I know we have succeeded in
> protections for our Mother Earth and for the future generations."
> --
> Join the IEN Newsletter!
>   https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/tools/subscription.php?username=ienearth
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Clayton Thomas-Muller
> Indigenous Environmental Network
> Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign
> 180 Metcalfe Street, Suite 500
> Ottawa, ON, CND, K2P 1P5
> Office: 613 237 1717 ext. 106
> Cell: 613 297 7515
> http://www.ienearth.org/tarsands.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Please visit Defenders of the Land:http://www.defendersoftheland.org
> Please visit Global Justice Ecology Project:
> http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/
> Please visit:http://redroadcancun.com
> "It don' take a whole day to recognize sunshine..."

On 11/10/2011 6:49 PM, Bill McKibben, 350.org wrote:

Dear Friends,

*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" by 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.

*We're collecting pledges to take the fight forward, and redouble our 
efforts to fossil fuels. Will you sign on?* 

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 


Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team

P.S. Victories need to be shared. Let's make this one fly all over the 
web: share it on Twitter here 
<http://act.350.org/go/719?akid=1401.265675.lIeLa5&t=5> and share it on 
Facebook here. <http://act.350.org/go/720?akid=1401.265675.lIeLa5&t=6>



U.S. to Delay Decision on Pipeline Until After Election 
<http://act.350.org/go/717?akid=1401.265675.lIeLa5&t=7> - The New York Times

/Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood

  U.S. Delays Decision on Pipeline Until After Election

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Protesters rallied against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would run 
from Canada through the Plains to the Gulf Coast, at the White House on 

            By JOHN M. BRODER
            and DAN FROSCH

            Published: November 10, 2011

WASHINGTON --- The Obama administration, under sharp pressure from 
officials in Nebraska and restive environmental activists, announced 
Thursday that it will review the route of the disputed Keystone XL 
pipeline, effectively delaying any decision about its fate until after 
the 2012 election.


The State Department said in a statement 
<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/11/176964.htm> that it was 
ordering a review of alternate routes to avoid the environmentally 
sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which would have been put at 
risk by a rupture of the 1,700-mile pipeline carrying a heavy form of 
crude extracted from oil sands 
formations in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Oklahoma and the Gulf 

The move is the latest in a series of administration decisions pushing 
back thorny environmental matters beyond next November's presidential 
election to try to avoid the heat from opposing interests ---business 
lobbies or environmental and health advocates --- and to find a 
political middle ground. Mr. Obama delayed a review 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/science/earth/10epa.html> of the 
nation's smog standard until 2013, pushed back offshore oil lease sales 
in the Arctic until at least 2015 and blocked issuance of new 
regulations for coal 
ash from power plants.

The proposed project 
<http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/clientsite/keystonexl.nsf?Open> by 
a Canadian pipeline company, TransCanada, similarly put President Obama 
in a political vise, squeezed between the demand for a secure source of 
oil and the thousands of jobs the project will bring, and the loud 
agitation of environmental advocates who threatened to withhold 
electoral support next year if he approved it.

Mr. Obama said in an interview 
<http://www.ketv.com/r/29655983/detail.html> with an Omaha television 
station last week that he would make the ultimate decision about the 
pipeline, but sought to portray Thursday's announcement as solely a 
State Department matter and not the result of political calculation.

"I support the State Department's announcement today regarding the need 
to seek additional information about the Keystone XL pipeline proposal," 
the president said after the announcement. "Because this permit decision 
could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the 
environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a 
public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are 
properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood."

He said he remained committed to a politically balanced diet of 
increased domestic oil and gas production combined with incentives for 
the development of carbon-free alternatives.

While environmental groups welcomed their temporary victory on the 
pipeline project, some expressed skepticism about the president's 
motives. Glenn Hurowitz, an environmental activist and senior fellow at 
the Center for International Policy, said the delay could leave the 
final decision in the hands of Mr. Obama's Republican successor.

"This decision just puts off a green light for the tar sands by a year," 
Mr. Hurowitz said in an e-mailed statement. "That's why I'm a little 
dismayed at suggestions that this kick-the-can decision means 
environmentalists will enthusiastically back President Obama in 2012. Is 
the price of an environmentalist's vote a year's delay on environmental 
catastrophe? Excuse me, no."

Oil industry officials, some unions and the Canadian government said 
they were disappointed because the action delays what they call the 
economic and jobs benefits of the $7 billion project.

Jack N. Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said of 
the president's decision, "This is all about politics and keeping a 
radical constituency, opposed to any and all oil and gas development, in 
the president's camp in 2012. Whether it will help the president retain 
his job is unclear but it will cost thousands of shovel-ready 
opportunities for American workers."

Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime 
minister, said, "While we are disappointed with the delay, we remain 
hopeful the project will be decided on its merits and eventually approved."

TransCanada said that it would work with the State Department to find a 
new route, but warned that delay could kill the project, and with it 
tens of thousands of construction and related jobs and billions of 
dollars in tax revenues.

"If Keystone XL dies," said Russell K. Girling, the company's president, 
"Americans will still wake up the next morning and continue to import 10 
million barrels of oil from repressive nations without the benefit of 
thousands of jobs and long-term energy security."

The Sand Hills region has a high concentration of wetlands, a sensitive 
ecosystem and extensive areas of very shallow groundwater that could be 
endangered by an oil spill 
The State Department said that it expected that the review could be 
completed in the first quarter of 2013.

Public officials and citizens in Nebraska have been particularly vocal 
about the proposed pipeline route, not only because of fears about the 
Sand Hills region but because it will cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a 
critical source of drinking water for the Great Plains. Gov. Dave 
Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican, has been pushing for the pipeline to 
be rerouted and recently called a special legislative session 
to focus on Keystone XL.

"I am pleased that Nebraskans have been heard," Mr. Heineman said in a 
telephone interview. "We've tried to make it very clear that we support 
the pipeline but oppose the route over the Ogallala Aquifer," Mr. 
Heineman said, adding he was not expecting the State Department's 
decision. "I hope we can find a common-sense solution, change the route 
and begin construction of the pipeline."

The pipeline's opponents in Nebraska hailed the decision as a pivotal 
victory, at least for now.

"This is a game changer for our state," said Jane Kleeb, director of 
Bold Nebraska, a citizens' advocacy group that has been leading efforts 
to block the pipeline. "We've been fighting this every day and night for 
almost two years."

Kerri-Ann Jones in the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and 
International Environmental and Scientific Affairs said the agency's 
decision to look for alternative routes was sparked by the significant 
outcry from Nebraska residents and officials.

"What we're hearing from the public and from comments across the nation 
is the concerns about it going through this fragile landscape," she said 
of the proposed pipeline. "We've heard this loud and clear."

Ms. Jones said that the previous environmental review of Keystone XL had 
not considered routes around the aquifer in Nebraska, but rather routes 
that circumvented the state completely. New alternative routes for 
Keystone XL would still pass through Nebraska, but would seek to avoid 
or minimize its effects on the aquifer, she said.

The State Department's inspector general announced 
on Monday that he was looking into charges of a conflict of interest and 
improper political influence 
in the preparation of the project's environmental impact statement. Some 
have faulted the department for assigning the study to a company with 
financial ties to TransCanada <http://www.transcanada.com/>.

Opponents of the project have organized two large protests outside the 
White House, including one on Sunday in which several thousand 
protesters encircled the mansion demanding that the president kill the 
pipeline. Earlier this year more than a thousand protesters were 
arrested in large demonstrations across from the White House.

John M. Broder reported from Washington and Dan Frosch from Denver; Ian 
Austen contributed reporting from Ottawa.

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