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Dear Mr. President:

I refer often to the Malia-Sasha Horizon, probably because it is such an evocative and powerfully framed concept on the impending and foreseeable impact of climate change.

And as I listened throughout the day Thursday as 311 people spoke at the State Department's Keystone XL hearing in Grand Island, Nebraska,  I was equally inspired by the speakers' breadth of knowledge and the rawness of their emotions as they appealed to you as a father. As a future grandfather.

"If this government makes a huge, huge mistake in preventing this pipeline, with the influence of the Canadian government and big oil, we the people will not allow this pipeline to be built," Nebraska rancher Bruce Boettcher told State Department representatives.

Abbi Kleinschmidt, 54, of rural York, said she was prepared to stand in front of TransCanada's bulldozers in Nebraska if the pipeline is approved. The fifth-generation farmer said she fears that the half-mile of pipeline that could run through her corn and soybean farm would contaminate the groundwater that has sustained her family for generations.

"I hope it doesn't come to that," she said. "But it's our job, our duty, to take care of this land."

Terry Frisch, a northern Nebraska rancher who owns land on the Ogallala Aquifer, has fought the project for four years. He said he has grown increasingly frustrated that the project, which he views as a threat to the state's groundwater supply. Frisch said some landowners in the desolate ranching country are so angry that some have talked about fighting back if they're moved by force.

"I'm 65 years old, and I've already lived longer than I thought I was going to," Frisch said. "I'm not going to ask my kids. But me? I'm not afraid to stand in front of a bulldozer."(Keystone XL Opponents Brace for Protests in Neb.)

I am not yet 65-years-old, Mr. President, but I know that I would stand in front of a bulldozer as well, if it meant preserving the planet for my family.  How about you?

Is this a novel concept, I wonder, this unfathomable fear that the world will no longer be able to sustain life for our descendants? I can recall, long before having the 'birds and the bees' discussion with my daughter, the horrifying realization that I would have to explain to her that she ran the risk of dying from unprotected sex. And then the next conversation, initiated by her some fifteen years later, in which she told me she would never have children and that she didn't recall ever thinking that the world had a future.

I imagine you have had (or will have) similar discussions with your children.  I wonder if they also are growing up with a sense that there really is no tomorrow.

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew i would never see it again? ― Rachel Carson
Back in the 1960s, as I am sure you know, President John F. Kennedy responded rapidly to support the findings on the dangers of DDT outlined in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. But it took ten years for our government to ban the use of this toxic chemical on our nation's agricultural lands. Carson herself was the victim of a vicious, well funded campaign  waged by Monsanto, Velsicol and American Cyanamid with the approval of the Department of Agriculture. (Time archives.)

There are many similarities between today's battle against tar sands and Carson's war fifty years ago over chemical pollutants.

Her admonition to "Spray as little as you possibly can" rather than "Spray to the limit of your capacity" is today's “Drill as little as you possibly can” rather than “Drill Baby, Drill.”

But we no longer have ten years to wait for our government to take definitive action to drastically change course and address the need for sustainable clean energy in the face of climate change. We need you to act now. To use your executive powers to turn the ship of state around. To change who and what ultimately defines the reality of America today and for future generations.

We’re rounding the corner on the three year anniversary of the Enbridge oil spill near Marshall.
The cleanup isn’t over yet and so far, more than a million gallons of thick tar sands oil have been cleaned up from the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek.State officials have been looking at possible health risks from the spill.This week, the Michigan Department of Community Health released a report on drinking water wells along the spill zone. From MDCH releases report on drinking water wells after Kalamazoo River oil spill, March 14, 2013 Michigan Radio  

Recently, I unearthed the roughly-aged red leather journal which accompanied me, fresh out of college, on my 3000 mile road trip west from New York in 1973. Reading through it again after many years, I  realized that many of the memories of America which remain indelibly imprinted in my memory are those moments I wrote about that summer ...  

Left Ann Arbor for Chicago about 7. A long ride across Michigan. Stopped at Kalamazoo around 9pm for dinner at a truck driver's stop -- Salisbury Steak, salad, mashed potatoes and vegetables for $1.80. The usual weird looks.


Then into the star-studded deep dark Kansas night with long empty roads, a beautiful mooned sky and miles and miles of nothing ... pull into a gas station; an old man, his face a huge pocket of wrinkles, fills the tank as noise from a Spanish talk show disturbs the silence ... huge bugs, moths, bats? crickets slam to their deaths against the windshield and we pull into a service area, spooked and alone in the middle of nowhere as if some sinister force is following us into the depths of no return. We hardly know who we are anymore ...


Sunrise in Hillsboro, sitting in the middle of the street. The Blues, a parade of Godzilla clouds marching across the sky in silent ceremony. Reverent. The birds awakening. The occasional car's headlights toy with the shadows ... I am so aware of the poignancy, the intensity of this moment. Isolated, fleeting quality of awareness. I know that this moment, these few moments captured and experienced each and every day are really what life is all about.

Mr. President, when I took that road trip back in the summer of 1973, this was the America I experienced:
There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings.  Rachel Carson, A Fable For Tomorrow, excepted from Silent Spring, 1962.
And here are the voices of some of Thursday's speakers as they fight for the future of America.
"If we don't get climate change right it doesn't matter what else we get right"
"There are no jobs on a dead planet."
"This is the our lunch hour moment of 21st century. Its about our right to exist on the planet."
"The only job growth that I have seen, is them coming to clean up the spill."
"This is our land. We have to protect our grandchildren."
"We borrow our Earth not from our ancestors but from our children... Kill the damn thing. It's nonsense."
"Putting in this pipeline is like taking an alcoholic to a beer hall and telling them to have a good time."
"The President does not want to mess with angry grandparents"
"This is Nebraska, where our food is grown the middle of our country ... this is the heart of America. We can't spread oil across this land."
Ironically, the last speaker of the night, Speaker 311, is in recovery from addiction.

His message, Mr. President, was "Do the next right thing"


Deborah Phelan

Photo from
We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road the one "less traveled by" offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth. Rachel Carson.

#NOKXL Blogathon: April 12 - April 22, 2013

900,000 Comments Submitted!

As of today, around 900,000 comments have been submitted so far and forwarded by our coalition partners to the United States Department of State.  Please help us reach and, even, exceed our goal of one million comments opposing this pipeline.  

The deadline for submission of public comments is April 22, 2013.

You Can Make a Difference

On March 1, 2013, the United States State Department released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  The SEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts. The purpose of this campaign is to obtain one million public comments in opposition to building this environmentally-destructive pipeline.  We hope that this blogathon will make submission of public comments easier.

This effort is being coordinated with Bill McKibben of and in coalition with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, and Bold Nebraska.  

A victim of the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, this bird says it all.  
Photograph being used with permission from Fast For The Earth.

We have an exciting line up of prominent lawmakers, environmental activists, and Daily Kos diarists.  Each one of them will be posting a diary in opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Some guests will be including a brief "sample comment" that readers can copy and submit at the State Department website.  The diaries and "sample comments" can be used as your comments! Readers who have specialized knowledge and skills relating to the pipeline, tar sands, climate change, or the petroleum industry may, of course, choose to create their own comments with additional details.  

Comments written by you are reviewed by our government with no media filter.  Three of our coalition partners will keep track of the number of comments submitted to the U.S. Department of State.

Please submit your comments through one of the below links:

  • "A Million Comments Against Keystone XL" - will deliver your comments directly to the State Department and has a system set up so that you can customize your comment.
  • "Tell President Obama: Reject Keystone XL!" - Sierra Club has a sample public comment that allows you to personalize your message.
  • "Tell the State Department: #NoKXL" - Oil Change International has a very helpful template to formulate your comments.
Let your voice be heard.  Our Daily Kos community organizers are Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, boatsie, rb137, JekyllnHyde, Onomastic, citisven, peregrine kate, DWG, and John Crapper, with Meteor Blades as the group's adviser.

Diary Schedule - All Times Pacific

More helpful details are in this diary - DK Blogathon Hosts Eco Coalition in #NOKXL Public Comment Campaign by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.  Use hashtag #NOKXL to tweet all diaries posted during this blogathon.

  • Friday, April 12

1:00 pm: #NOKXL Blogathon: Your voice on the Keystone XL pipeline matters by DWG.

  • Saturday, April 13

11:00 am: Keystone XL: a pipeline THROUGH the US, not to it by dturnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International.
1:00 pm: #NOKXL: Dilbit in the Pipeline by Agathena.

  • Sunday, April 14

11:00 am: Keystone XL: Wildlife in the Crosshairs by Target Global Warming, Peter LaFontaine is the Energy Policy Advocate for the National Wildlife Federation.
1:00 pm: #NoKXL: The Future Is In Our Hands; Say No To The XL Pipeline Disaster by beach babe in fl.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL: Guess What's NOT in POTUS' Budget! (Rhymes with Shnipeline) by ericlewis0.

  • Monday, April 15

Note: All diaries for this day were rescheduled due to the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • Tuesday, April 16

8:00 am: KXL will carry as much carbon as all the cars on the West Coast, plus Michigan, NY, and Florida. by Bill McKibben, Founder of
12:00 pm: #NoKXL: InsideClimate News Wins Pulitzer for Coverage of Kalamazoo River Dilbit Spill in 2010 by peregrine kate.
2:00 pm: Reject Keystone XL; Our Focus Should Be on Investing in a Sustainable Energy Future by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Member of the United States House of Representatives.
2:00 pm: #NoKXL: (un)Ethical Pipeline? by A Siegel.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL — The Pipeline To Oblivion: Memes From The Climate Letter Project by WarrenS.

  • Wednesday, April 17

11:00 am: My government doesn't believe in climate change by Tzeporah Berman, Canadian Environmentalist and Co-Founder of Forest Ethics.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL ?? The Keystone XL Pipeline, Deep Time, and the Nature of Humanity by gregladen.

  • Thursday, April 18

10:00 am: Keystone East: Doubling down? Or admitting KXL defeat? by Roger Fox.
2:00 pm: Watch it Now! Fantastic Live Hearing Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline from Nebraska by JekyllnHyde.
3:00 pm: #NOKXL: The Ill-Logic of Keystone XL by Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action.

  • Friday, April 19

2:00 pm: #NOKXL - A Dispatch From The Committee To End The Future by joe shikspack.
3:00 pm: Collision With Reality by James Wells.

  • Saturday, April 20

11:00 am: Nebraska Hearing: Pipeline Fighters Dominated by Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska
12:00 pm: Scientific American:"Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Exacerbates Climate Change"-Consultant's Bias EXPOSED by Lefty Coaster
1:00 pm:#NOKXL Blogathon - Keystone Principles and the Line in the Sand by John Crapper
3:00 pm: by [boatsie]

Please remember to republish these diaries to your Daily Kos Groups.  You can also follow all postings by clicking this link for the Climate Change SOS Blogathon Group. Then, click 'Follow' and that will make all postings show up in 'My Stream' of your Daily Kos page.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 03:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Meatless Advocates Meetup, Holy $h*tters, Climate Hawks, and Deborah Phelan.

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