Search form

Dear Secretary Clinton: Reject the Keystone Pipeline

Dear Secretary Clinton: Reject the Keystone Pipeline
Wed, 7/18/2012 - by Stephen Lacey
This article originally appeared on Think Progress

Photo: Matt Strasen.

A group of prominent American climate scientists sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urging her to consider the climate impacts of developing the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last summer, Secretary Clinton said she would “leave no stone unturned” in the State Department’s review of the pipeline. However, in its report on the project last August — released before President Obama denied the permit and encouraged TransCanada to choose another route — the State Department made almost no mention of climate change.

That’s a pretty big stone left unturned, say the nation’s top scientists.

The letter, which includes signatures from James Hansen and Michael Mann, says that avoiding climate change in an environmental review is “neither wise nor credible.”

This lack of serious consideration of climate change isn’t much a surprise. The Obama Administration has created a double standard on climate through both the Keystone XL pipeline and its support for Arctic offshore drilling.

In the case of Arctic drilling, the Interior Department noted in its environmental review of Shell’s drilling plans that the region is “experiencing variations that are accelerating faster than previously realized.” But the Interior Department did not use this assessment to question the prudence of drilling for more fossil fuels that will only accelerate that warming trend.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama said he believes “that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.” But when asked to respond to NASA Climatologist James Hansen, who said that opening up tar sands is “game over” for the climate, the President avoided making a direct connection between Keystone XL and climate change:

"James Hansen is a scientist who has done an enormous amount not only to understand climate change, but also to help publicize the issue. I have the utmost respect for scientists. But it’s important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That’s their national policy, they’re pursuing it. With respect to Keystone, my goal has been to have an honest process, and I have adamantly objected to Congress trying to circumvent a process that was well-established not just under Democratic administrations, but also under Republican administrations," said the president.

"The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem."

However, even with the President admitting that people are frustrated about inaction on climate, the White House and the State Department have largely avoided examination of the climate impacts of building the pipeline — a project that would bring up to 800,000 barrels of tar sands crude into the U.S. each day. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that tar sands emit up to 82 percent more greenhouse gases that average crude.

In that Rolling Stone interview, President Obama said he believed climate change would be an election-year issue. Encouraging the State Department to take a serious look at the climate impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline would be a great start.

Below is the letter sent this morning to Secretary Clinton:

Dear Secretary Clinton, We are writing to ask that the State Department conduct, as part of its evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, a serious review of the effect of helping open Canada’s tar sands on the planet’s climate. At the moment, your department is planning to consider the effects of the pipeline on “recreation,” “visual resources,” and “noise,” among other factors. Those are important—but omitting climate change from the considerations is neither wise nor credible. The vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand; understanding the role this largescale new pipeline will play in that process is clearly crucial. We were pleased that President Obama saw fit to review this project more carefully; it would be a shame if that review did not manage to comprehensively cover the most important questions at issue. Sincerely, John Abraham Associate Professor, School of Engineering University of St. Thomas Ken Caldeira Senior Scientist Department of Global Ecology Carnegie Institution James Hansen Research Scientist The International Research Institute for Climate and Society The Earth Institute, Columbia University Michael MacCracken Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs Climate Institute Michael E. Mann Professor of Meteorology Director, Earth System Science Center The Pennsylvania State University James McCarthy Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography Harvard University Michael Oppenheimer Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences Princeton University Raymond T. Pierrehumbert Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences The University of Chicago Richard Somerville Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor Scripps Institution of Oceanography George M. Woodwell Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist Woods Hole Research Center.

Article Tabs

How will the state pay for these new tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich? By raising taxes on the poor, of course.

From Spain's grassroots city mayors to the Mexican Citizens' Movement, the worldwide network of rebel territories is continuing to grow.

bank bailouts, Wall Street crimes, Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, Great Recession, illegal foreclosures, banking crimes

The former Fed chair says that, in addition to banks and corporations paying billions in fines for their illegal activities that triggered the economic meltdown and Great Recession, individuals should have also been held accountable.

How can we pretend to be mystified about gun violence within our borders when violence as a concept and as actual hardware is the #1 U.S. export?

Detroit foreclosures, Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction, tax foreclosure auctions, online auction, foreclosed homes

The largest known municipal foreclosure sale to date, the Detroit home sell-off could be a modern take on Manifest Destiny – luring would-be frontiersmen and speculators from across the world to try their hand at “buying Detroit.”, Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, civil forfeiture, money laundering, unequal justice, Internet freedom

Vast resources of the U.S. government are being deployed at the bidding of the entertainment industry, which saw its profits threatened by Internet pioneers like Dotcom and his Megaupload content-sharing empire.

Posted 5 days 23 hours ago
#BlackWorkersMatter, Black Lives Matter, racial justice, racial justice, economic justice, black unions, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Black Worker Initiative, Institute for Southern Studies, Black Workers for Justice

Black workers have been, for the working class as a whole, the canary in the mine. What befalls the black worker inevitably confronts the bulk of the U.S. working class.

Posted 6 days 23 hours ago

This week, from med students to female priests, fasters to the monopoly man, we've got a helluva lineup – first up, let's talk Medicare and why it shouldn't be so ageist.

Posted 5 days 23 hours ago
war machine, Paris climate summit, carbon emissions, military carbon emissions, weapons for oil, war fueling climate change, perpetual war, 1% profits

Oil and the war business are as connected to each other as they are tied to capitalism – which is why, to tackle climate change, we need to dismantle both.

Posted 4 days 22 hours ago

The idea for an international bank had already been explored to some extent by people like the economist John Maynard Keynes. But the idea for the bank truly took off during the Young Conference in 1929, when the Allies were attempting to exact Germany’s reparations debts for WWI.

Posted 4 days 10 min ago

This week, from med students to female priests, fasters to the monopoly man, we've got a helluva lineup – first up, let's talk Medicare and why it shouldn't be so ageist.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas, undercover journalists, whistleblowers, exposing corruption, Ghana corruption, Transparency International

Anas Aremeyaw Anas has a range of tools he uses when trying o expose government corruption – from an array of wigs, prosthetic masks and tiny cameras, to feigning madness, posing as a street hawker and even dressing up as a rock.

Barack Obama, UN General Assembly, Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, Vladimir Putin, Syria civil war, Bashar al-Assad

At the UN on Monday, a scene not unlike a heavy-weight boxing match in Vegas played out, as the rich and famous gathered ringside to watch a long anticipated slugfest between two titans that could very well have been fixed., Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, civil forfeiture, money laundering, unequal justice, Internet freedom

Vast resources of the U.S. government are being deployed at the bidding of the entertainment industry, which saw its profits threatened by Internet pioneers like Dotcom and his Megaupload content-sharing empire.

money in politics, Super PACs, political action committees, Citizens United, money is not speech, Larry Lessig, campaign finance reform

To watch American politics today is to watch money speaking – and the sums involved dwarf those in any other mature democracy.

Sign Up