By Bill McKibben,350.org – Yesterday Time Magazine declared that Keystone had become the Stonewall and the Selma of the climate movement — and today we got a reminder of just how tough those fights were, and how tough this one will be.
On a Friday afternoon, with Secretary of State John Kerry half a world away and D.C. focused on the budget fight, the State Department released a new environmental impact statement for the pipeline. Like the last such report, it found that approving a 800,000 barrel-a-day fuse to one of the planet’s biggest carbon bombs was “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the tar sands or the climate.
That, in a word, is nonsense — some of our most important climate scientists in the U.S. have written the State Department to explain exactly how dangerous Keystone is. Just yesterday Europe’s top climate diplomat pointed out that it would send a truly terrible signal to the rest of the world.
President Obama will be making a decision in a few short months. I won’t lie: today’s report makes the odds look even tougher — and the power of the fossil fuel lobby hasn’t waned one bit.
But I’m reminded that the last time the State Department issued an environmental impact statement about the pipeline, we were just beginning this fight. That day in 2011, 50 people were arrested at the White House during the very first wave of protests against the pipeline.
This time around we’re tens of thousands of people stronger, and once again, I think we are just beginning to fight.
In these next months we need to send a signal to the White House that we’re not standing down. There are two things I think we should begin working on immediately.
First — since it’s clear that the polite but firm warnings of our top climate scientists aren’t being heard — anytime that the President or Secretary of State Kerry appears in public, it’s crucial that we let them know that we won’t accept this pipeline or the damage it will do to our climate. We need a team of rapid responders coast-to-coast who can turn around with 24 hours notice and raise a ruckus at these events when we find out about them. Read more…