As we enter the fourth quarter of the Keystone XL super bowl, momentum is on the side of pipeline opponents. Here are 10 reasons why President Obama is going to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
1. Keystone XL is all risk and no reward
Keystone XL would be a 1,700 mile leaky, dirty, dangerous, export pipeline that would run through some of America’s most valuable agricultural land and over one of the nation’s largest sources of fresh drinking water, the Ogallala Aquifer. Here’s just some of the things Keystone XL puts at risk: our air, water, land; indigenous communities living near the tar sands; the State of Nebraska; and the entire global climate. And what do we get in return? 50 permanent jobs and some more rich oil and pipeline CEOs.
2. Keystone XL fails the President’s climate test
President Obama said that he wouldn’t approve Keystone XL if it “significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions.” Despite the State Department's feints and twists of logic, there is simply no way an honest assessment of Keystone XL can lead to the conclusion that the pipeline is anything but a climate disaster.
3. The President cares about his environmental legacy
In his 2014 State of the Union, President Obama said, “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” How exactly would President Obama look Sasha and Malia’s children in the eye and say he did everything he could if he doesn’t say no to Keystone XL?
4. Secretary of State John Kerry is a climate champion
Kerry, who is a long-time climate champion, makes the final recommendation to President Obama on whether to reject Keystone XL. Advocating for the pipeline would be a crazy about-face for a man who recently called climate change the world’s most dangerous weapon of mass destruction.
5. There’s not much political pain if President Obama rejects the pipeline…
The Obama administration has already given lots of handouts to the fossil fuel industry (rushing to approve fracking on public land, pushing more offshore drilling, etc.) and what exactly has it gotten them? Big Oil still spends overwhelmingly in favor of climate denying Republicans. If he says no to Keystone XL, President Obama will piss off the people...who are already pissed off at him. As for pro-oil Democrats, they’ll have plenty of room to distance themselves from the President just as moderate Democrats have distanced themselves from the administration on a whole host of other issues.
6….and lots of pain if he approves it
On the other hand, if Obama approves Keystone XL he could be entering a world of political pain. As John Nichols explains in a recent piece for the Nation, Democrats rely on youth voter turnout in midterm and presidential elections, and a Keystone XL approval would surely dampen it. Pipeline opponents are also pledging to be a major thorn in the side of any pro-pipeline presidential candidate in 2016 if President Obama hasn’t rejected the project yet--I’m assuming the last thing a Clinton campaign would want is 100 young people and a giant pipeline following them around New Hampshire all primary.
7. Keystone XL is a handout to the Koch Brothers
Enough said? Why exactly would President Obama approve a project that could fill the coffers of his sworn political enemies with billions of dollars.
8. Canada will get over it
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is huffing and puffing up a storm about Keystone XL right now, but he’d quickly back down if President Obama chooses to reject the pipeline. Canada would likely be “deeply disappointed” and “regret the decision,” and then go right back to being our increasingly-not-so-friendly Northern neighbors.
9. President Obama has other environmental priorities
President Obama seems to want to do something about the climate crisis and he could use the environmental community at his back. By rejecting Keystone XL, the White House will be able to better mobilize the environmental community in supporting their efforts to regulate coal plants, increase energy efficiency, improve mileage standards for cars and trucks, and other climate friendly steps they’ve committed to take.
10. This movement isn’t going away
President Obama can’t have any illusions that opposition to the pipeline is dying down. Last weekend at XL Dissent, 398 young people were arrested at the White House protesting the pipeline. More than 86,000 people are on deck to commit more civil disobedience after signing the Keystone XL pledge of resistance organized by Credo, Rainforest Action Network, and the Other 89%. Indigenous leaders are pledging resistance up and down the pipeline route. And at the end of April, the #NoKXL movement will be back in Washington, DC with a big, inspiring new action (more info on that soon) to seal the deal on a win. We're just getting stronger.
The fight against the Keystone XL pipeline has always been an uphill battle, and there's no guarantee we're going to pull this one off. But thanks to the hard work of tens of thousands of people across the country, momentum is on our side. The clock is ticking down to a decision. Let’s go out and win.