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Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have made a bombproof environmental case against the project. There is a lot of conjecture about KXL, but facts are facts. Keystone XL is an export pipeline; it will increase global warming emissions; and it will benefit giant oil and gas companies that already have a vice-like grip on our political system.

But thus far opponents of KXL--of which I'm one--have yet to make a political argument against KXL that sticks. After all, KXL has become a political hot potato, with politicians and prognosticators trying to guess just what a decision would mean for Obama and his party.

To me, the answer is clear: a rejection of KXL is a political winner for the president. Why wouldn't it be? Huge majorities of the coalition that came together to re-elect the president in November--youth voters, African Americans, Latinos, and women--all support strong action on climate change. Saying no to the KXL carbon bomb is the very definition of strong action.

Inside the numbers

When you really look at it, it's the president's political opponents that are for the pipeline. George Will wants it built, so does ExxonMobil and the Cato Institute. To say yes to KXL is to give a political gift to them. Meanwhile the president's base is saying no thanks.

There are a ton of polls out there on climate change, but the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication usually has some of the best. In 2010--before the hottest year on record (2012), a horrible nation-wide drought, and Sandy--a Yale study showed that large majorities of all racial and ethnic groups already supported climate action.

Just look at the question of whether we should regulate carbon pollution. Support among Obama's base in the Yale poll is overwhelming with 65% of Latinos; 86% of African Americans and 70% of whites supporting government regulation. On this question and countless others on clean energy, Independents closely mirror Democrats, with big majorities supporting efforts to address global warming. And make no mistake, people do vote on climate: a majority of registered voters (58%) said last year they will consider candidates' position on global warming when deciding how to vote.

There haven't been too many recent polls on climate change and the youth vote that I've seen, but if you walk down to your area college campus you will find huge support for climate action. Want proof? 350.org's divestment campaign--just three months old--has already spread to over 200 campuses and it's growing.

Flipping conventional wisdom on its head

Two years ago the pundit class said KXL was a done deal and that with the election fast approaching the president would be a fool to reject it. Well, he did reject it, and he was re-elected. KXL proved to be a non-issue, and although the candidates certainly failed to address climate change in the campaign, the president's commitment to working on it didn't really come up despite the tens of million that poured into the election from oil, coal and gas companies.

What we have learned from the president over these past 4 years is that he needs a mobilized base behind him if we expect him to move on an issue. Polls show people want climate action, and the largest climate rally in US history is planned for
Feb. 17 outside the president's house. He'll hear from us that we will support him if he rejects KXL again, and if he does the president will achieve another political victory. Don't just listen to me, look at the polls.

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Comment Preferences

  •  from July: (4+ / 0-)
    A new poll shows that 62 percent of registered voters favor approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, a project Mitt Romney has pledged to greenlight on “day one” if elected but the Obama administration has said needs more review.
    http://thehill.com/...
  •  Obama doesn't need political winners . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster

    He's not going to be running for re-election again.

    “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

    by Sagebrush Bob on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:11:09 PM PST

  •  Fact is it isn't a political winner (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North

    cause building the pipeline has been the one republican agenda item that's consistently polled well. But that shouldnt matter and Obama should reject it anyway, that's called leadership.

    •  Question is, why did it poll well? (0+ / 0-)

      Sometimes things poll well because the actual proposal is a good one, and actual facts are consistent with good poll numbers. Sometimes, people have believed the spin.

      I'm no expert on Keystone, but I have some reservations.

      1. TransCanada's prediction on employment for building and maintaining the pipelines is mighty attractive in a time when people need jobs.

      People who believe their numbers may well say they support the pipeline.

      But what if the reality is closer to what the State Department has found? Just twenty permanent jobs. Is it worth the risk, for twenty jobs?

      2. People like the idea of importing more oil from Canada, so they might tell pollsters they approve. But what if the reality is that the U.S. gets most of the risk of bitumen spills, while other countries get most of the oil, shipped out from Texas refineries?

      3. In Canada, Enbridge wants to build a pipeline for similar gunk from Alberta to BC. Most of the opposition so far has come from the First Nations people, as the pipeline will cross a number of reserves.

      Same question for them that Americans should be asking: who is bearing the burden of the risk of horrendous environmental damage, and who is benefiting from the oil being shipped?

  •  progressive ideals vs. corporate interests (0+ / 0-)

    When the two come in direct conflict in actual policy, more often than not, Obama's been just as much a defender of corporate interests as any GOPher.

    The fact that he addressed climate change in his inaugural address is a promising development, but whether or not he moves to oppose the Keystone XL will prove a strong test of which trumps which.

  •  I remember reading polls of Dems that showed (0+ / 0-)

    a majority of Dems supported XL

    But polls aren't important. I'd rather Obama decided such things based on the best available science and what's best for our country. I trust he's done so.

    One of the groups apposing the pipeline, the Sierra Club, I loathe. Every single time an issue of hunting comes up they lobby against it. Based just on the fact that they are against the pipeline makes me be inclined to support it.

    End of the day though I'll support whatever Obama decides. I elected him to take account of all the factors involved and come up with what's best for the country.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:02:13 PM PST

  •  It is going to go through. Too much has been built (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    With the Governor of Nebraska now on board, it's pretty much a done deal unless those that oppose it capture the public's imagination.

    The question now is what will he get in return for allowing it to go through?

    Those that really care for the environment/climate have done a poor job in galvanizing public support for what needs to be done in order to ween the country off of fossil fuel. Expecting President Obama to not only get something progressive through the House, but also do the necessary organizing and activism is a pipe dream(pun intended).

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:42:58 PM PST

  •  I agree, - KXL should be rejected but.... (0+ / 0-)

    Will a future Pres be able to overturn the decision and allow for it to be built?

    I have heard pockets of local oppostion esp by farmers and ranchers in Tx, will that be enough to derail it?

    The Gov of OK and TX both want it I presume?

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