Climate & Energy Blog

Momentum to stop Keystone XL surges as thousands circle the White House

Posted Nov. 7, 2011 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

12,000 strong. That's how many people showed up Sunday, November 6 -- exactly one year before Election Day 2012 -- to link arms around the White House in a circle of hope (three rings deep!) and urge President Obama to stop the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. As the sun set over Lafayette Park, President Obama's motorcade was met with a deafening chorus of “Yes you can stop the pipeline.”

The powerful show of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline generated media headlines across the country and across the globe.

But one thing's for sure -- it's not over until it's over. We're gaining momentum day by day. We can win, but only with continued commitment to hold President Obama to his word.

For now, here are highlights of the momentum we've built together in just the past few weeks.

Investigation launched into Keystone XL review

News broke November 7 that the Inspector General of the State Department -- the agency's watchdog -- has launched an investigation into the department’s handling of the pipeline review. The investigation was instigated by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Steve Cohen, who led a dozen other members of Congress in calling on the inspector general to dig into potential “violations of federal law or improper conduct,” a call echoed by Friends of the Earth and other public interest groups in a separate letter.

Friends of the Earth activists move Sen. Kerry

On October 27, Friends of the Earth activists in Massachusetts poured calls into Sen. John Kerry’s office asking him to lead in investigating evidence of wrongdoing as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. In a matter of 24 hours, Sen. Kerry went from refusing to lead because of a “busy schedule” to telling The Hill and Reuters that he would “leave no question unanswered.”

President Obama takes responsibility

On November 1, President Obama stopping punting responsibility, saying he would make the final decision on the pipeline -- and take a “long view” on environmental and health concerns. This is especially important since the State Department's review has been hopelessly corrupted.

Pipeline fight heats up in Nebraska

Stop Transcanada pipelineAlso on November 1, Nebraska state senators began a special legislative session to consider laws to force the pipeline out of the heart of the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, a source of drinking water for millions of Americans and the lifeblood of Nebraska's agricultural economy. Nebraska could play a “decisive role” in the outcome of the pipeline fight, as NPR reports.

Friends of the Earth activists in Nebraska have stepped up, sending 365 messages to state senators to call for strong re-routing legislation.  (If you live in Nebraska, you can take action here.)

The strongest bill on the table was introduced by Senator Ken Haar, who wrote November 6 in the Lincoln Journal-Star that, "As lawmakers, we must not be cowed by TransCanada's cry that it can't make a profit if it has to change its route. Profit margin for shareholders is not Nebraska's problem. The Keystone XL crude oil pipeline going through the Sandhills is!”

More holes blown in TransCanada's deception on jobs

A November 4 story in the Washington Post put TransCanada on record walking back from its gross overstatements on the numbers of jobs that could result from the pipeline -- and revealed some of the bogus tactics the company was using to inflate the numbers. As the story notes, a study by the Cornell Global Labor Institute (the only one not paid for by TransCanada) estimates that the pipeline could end up costing more jobs than it creates, in no small part because of its environmental risks.

Unions are joining the fight to stop Keystone XL. On November 3, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United urged the Obama administration to reject the pipeline, noting that "many of our members come to the U.S. from countries already severely impacted by climate change and environmental devastation." They join the Amalgamated Transit Union and Transport Workers Union in opposing the project.

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