Piscataway Chief Welcomes Canadian Chiefs, Forward on Climate Rally to WDC
By Evangeline Lilly, actor and activist.
On February 17, I am joining tens of thousands of people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., along with tens of thousands more in cities and towns across the nation, in what will be the largest climate action in US history.
The Piscataway Tribe has graciously extended a welcome to our First Nation guests from British Columbia, Canada, and to ALL of us. Thank you Chief Billy Tayac and thank you everyone who is descending on Washington, DC, from around the nation for the Forward on Climate Rally!
Welcoming the Forward on Climate Rally
Greetings Chief Abraham, Chief Flurer, Chief Thomas, and the Yinka Dene Alliance,
On behalf of the Piscataway Indian Nation, I welcome you, all indigenous representatives, and all allies to our ancestral homeland on the Potomac River, a place now known as Washington, D.C.
We are grateful for your steadfast courage and perseverance to dismantle this terrible assault on our Mother Earth – the Keystone XL Pipeline. We join you in calling upon President Obama to reject Tar Sands oil and to immediately desist from any further engagement with the Pipeline.
Our ancestors entrusted us with the care of all our relations, keeping the balance of life so that the seventh generation can know this living Earth. These are our Original Instructions. Not man’s law, but Creator’s Law.
More on the Tar Sands and the Climate Rally from NRDC
Two new blog posts from NRDC:
A Climate Rally at the Right Time, by Frances Beinecke
When I started talking about climate change more than a decade ago, I worried my future grandchildren would someday face rising sea levels and punishing drought. Now it’s clear those dangers won’t wait until a later date. They have arrived already, and they are delivering heartache and suffering right now.
Just the facts: Climate Impacts from the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline, by Daniell Droitsch
A key issue in the debate over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is about the impact it would have on climate. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a fundamental element in the oil industry’s plan to triple production of tar sands oil from 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 million bpd by 2030, and in the longer term to hike production to more than 9 million bpd. A backgrounder on the climate impacts from Keystone XL released by the Natural Resources Defense Council details how the U.S. decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline will have a direct bearing on whether the tar sands industry can attain those goals, with their attendant increases in carbon pollution. Keystone XL would lock the U.S. into a long-term commitment to an energy infrastructure that relies on dirty oil.
Superstorms. Devastating drought. Out-of-control wildfires. Record-breaking temperatures. There’s no doubt about it: climate change has become impossible to ignore. And while it’s encouraging to see more and more Americans join the call for bold action on climate, there’s one issue that we still hear far too little about: the impact of global warming on low-income communities and people of color.
Hurricane Katrina taught us a lesson—and Superstorm Sandy reinforced it. People living in neighborhoods with the fewest resources have a harder time escaping, surviving, and recovering from disasters. And they’re more vulnerable to the extreme weather climate change will bring. For example, African-Americans living in Los Angeles are more than twice as likely to die during a heat wave than other residents of the city. That’s because cities develop “heat islands,” which are created by an abundance of concrete and asphalt. Urban areas prone to the heat-island effect are more densely populated by people of color—and folks living in these areas tend to have limited access to cars and air conditioning.
Meanwhile, communities of color have been suffering the health effects of climate change pollution for far too long. Sixty-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant—one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution in America. That might help explain why African American kids have a much higher rate of asthma—one in six, compared with one in ten nationwide.
So when America is faced with a decision, as we are now, about whether to accelerate climate change or to fight it with all we’ve got—it’s much more than an environmental issue. It’s a public health and human rights issue.
That’s why the Keystone XL pipeline is such a major concern. The oil it would carry is the dirtiest on earth—creating three times as much carbon pollution as regular oil. It’s steroids for climate change.
And it gets worse. Mining tar sands oil wipes out huge swaths of forest, destroying the planet’s natural ability to fight global warming. The extraction process kills wildlife and leaves behind pools of poisoned water and sludge. High levels of arsenic, mercury, and lead have been found at Canadian tar sands sites. It’s not surprising then, that the indigenous tribes who live near these operations have spoken out about staggeringly high rates of cancer and illness in their communities.
Here in America, the toxic oil carried by the pipeline would end up in Port Arthur, Texas—a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood that is already plagued by pollution-related health problems. The massive number of oil refineries in the area are blamed for the fact that residents there have a 50 percent higher chance of contracting leukemia. And the Keystone pipeline would add millions of barrels of dirty tar sands crude to the toxic mix.
To permit the pipeline would represent a heartbreaking acquiescence to climate change on the part of President Obama and our national leaders. It would be throwing our hands up helplessly in the face of one of the biggest threats our country has ever faced. That’s not the kind of leadership we voted for.
There are certain points in history, like the Civil Rights Movement, when the consequences of inaction are so great that we have to make bold choices. This is one of those times.
Instead of allowing dirty energy projects like Keystone to move forward, we should be redoubling our investments in clean energy and in the kind of infrastructure that will make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Doing so not only builds stronger communities, but has the added benefit of creating economic opportunity capable of lifting people out of poverty. These investments create good, healthy jobs—jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. For example, fixing America’s crumbling water infrastructure alone would put roughly 2 million people to work—while helping manage floods and heat waves.
We’re making a mistake if we treat dirty energy projects like the Keystone pipeline as an environmental issue that’s a concern only to folks who have the luxury of worrying about such things. The pipeline—and climate change—pose an enormous threat to the health and safety of our most vulnerable communities. And we have a moral obligation to stand up and fight.
And if we do it right, we can make sure that people of color and low-income Americans have access to the world of opportunity that’s created by smart, innovative response to climate change. We can create a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of our children and grandchildren.
I-95 Road Closure and Detour in Delaware Will Cause 30 Minute Delay
A travel update for folks coming to the Forward on Climate Rally from Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and other points north:
I-95 Southbound will be closed just south of Exit 4A to Route 1 Southbound) from 10 p.m. until 10 a.m. The I-95 ramps to Churchman’s Road and SR 1 Southbound will remain open during the closure of I-95 Southbound.
In order to mitigate anticipated backups on I-95 Southbound Exit 4A, traffic is encouraged to exit I-95 at the SR 141 Interchange, travel south to US 13 Southbound, South to SR 273 Westbound, then back to I-95.
You might also consider taking I-78 or I-76 if you have the flexibility. The portion of I-95 that is closed is short, however congestion can be expected at the closure point except late at night. The detour route is a longer detour that should get you off I-95 before the closure point and hopefully avoid the worst of the traffic, making this an extra 20-30 delay. From the closure point to Washington is a little under two hours, so even if you get stuck the freeway will still re-open with enough time to get you to DC for the start of the rally. Closures like this are often re-opened earlier than the time posted to help deal with congestion, so please check live traffic conditions and highway advisory signs before making the decision to detour.
We are excited to announce that Eve will be performing at the Forward on Climate Rally this Sunday, February 17!
Eve is a Grammy winning, multi-platinum recording artist and a talented actress & fashion designer. She joins inspiring speakers Michael Brune, Bill McKibben, Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jacqueline Thomas, Van Jones, and more - this will be a remarkable day to make history!
Now, the League is partnering with environmental groups, women’s groups, and social justice groups across the country for the February 17th “Forward on Climate” rally in Washington, DC.
“Forward on Climate” will be the largest rally on climate change in history. The event aims to show the Obama administration that there is strong public support for moving ahead with climate change solutions. Please make plans to attend, if you can. If you cannot attend in person, you can join the conversation via Facebook and Twitter. Also, use the hashtag #ForwardonClimate to follow news and information leading up to and live from the rally.
The League is thrilled that climate change is finally getting the attention it deserves. We have taken a number of steps in past months to address the issue. The work of League members and environmental advocates across the country resulted in nearly 3,000grassroots letters sent to the White House in support of action to combat climate change. The League also launched a successful print ad campaign in the Honolulu Star Advertiser to encourage the President to take action. The League firmly believes that it’s time for the U.S. to take the lead on climate change. If President Obama and his administration do not move forward with standards to reduce carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, the world we live in will not be around for our children to enjoy.
Chances are that if you are reading this, you will know how I feel about the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. This oil extraction method is intensive and causes irrevocable damage to the environment. The area is a catastrophic scar on the Earth. Land has been destroyed forever. Water has been permanently poisoned. First Nations communities struggle downstream to maintain a healthy and traditional lifestyle. Laborers are shipped in from Eastern Canada and Somalia to work intensive schedules.Crime drug and alcohol addiction has soared on the streets of Ft. McMurray. I’ve seen it, it’s a mess.
The fate of the Keystone XL pipeline is still on the table (it’s been a roller coaster ride to date). If approved it will crack open the Tar Sands in unimaginable ways. It will increase extraction from the Tar Sands by 700,000 barrels a day and send it down to the Gulf of Mexico for processing and export. 350.org Bill McKibben has repeatedly called Keystone XL the fuse to the largest ‘carbon bomb’ we’ll ever know.
So, I’m taking action, with literally tens of thousands of others, to send an immediate message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry (who says he wants to make an announcement on Keystone XL ‘in the near term‘). This rally on February 17 is a first step to ensuring the President makes real strides in his second term on climate change.
Oh right, and the Tar Sands contribute to climate change, something big. Stopping Keystone XL is the first real stride the President can take.
1) Watch this! Specialty Studios is offering the award-winning film WHITE WATER, BLACK GOLD free online for viewing and sharing by anyone through February 18. 2) Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter: Here are some social media messages you can use to help promote the climate rally action on Facebook and Twitter. Please share with your followers! (Or simply click the “Like” and “Retweet” buttons on the top right of this post.
Facebook: Tens of thousands of people are coming together to call on President Obama to move America Forward On Climate. Join them today by signing up to send a message on Facebook or Twitter: http://thndr.it/X3bcuv
Twitter: Join the largest US climate rally ever by sending a message to @BarackObama to move #ForwardOnClimate: http://thndr.it/X3bcuv
3) Join the Thunderclap:
350.org is using a new online tool to amplify our voices on Twitter and Facebook. It’s called Thunderclap — because together, that’s how loud we can be. They’re hoping to get 10,000 people on board — click here to join: 350.org/thunderclap.
4) Submit Your Photos
There will be a giant screen at the rally, showing photos and messages of support from across the country — to get your message on the screen, take a photo showing your support for the action, or of a part of your community that you want protected from climate change, then email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your location in the subject line. (Or, you can post your photo to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ForwardOnClimate).
Folks at 350.org will pick out the best ones to put on the screen for tens of thousands of people to see, just outside the White House.
5) Share Your Sign
Finally, the 350.org web team put together this nifty sharable sign-maker that you can use to make a custom sign declaring your support for the action. They’re beautiful, and easy to share on your social networks. Check it out: sign.350.org.
Don’t forget to “like” and “retweet” this post to spread the word about the largest ever U.S. climate rally. Buttons are on the top right.
When corporate power can trump a crisis that has already taken lives, affected millions of Americans and cost billions of dollars in economic losses and infrastructure and property damage, it is time for citizens to act collectively.
When industry interests have more influence than a sweeping breadth of experts and leaders from around the globe – the climate science community, our leading public health experts, our military leaders, heads of state from all over the world and renowned religious leaders – who have called on the United States to take domestic action and provide international leadership on climate change, it is time for citizens to act collectively.
When we as a country stop rising to the challenges of our time because our elected officials fear backlash from corporate donors, it is time for citizens to act collectively.
Earlier this week, we shared a video from Climate Parents, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and the Sierra Club about parents, kids, and the need to move forward on climate. Here it is again — this time, in Spanish!
In the first State of the Union address of his second term, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to tackle the greatest threat facing our planet – catastrophic climate change. The President made clear his continued commitment to use his executive authority to tackle U.S. carbon pollution and meet the country’s carbon pollution reduction targets. This strengthened federal policy should have implications for Canada which is lagging behind on its climate record. The President should also reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as part of his commitment to confront climate change.
Photo credit:Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) via Wikimedia Commons
Americans recognize the imperative to act now. Last year, was the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S. The effects of extreme climate change can be seen in every corner of the country: freak storms, raging wildfires, and persistent drought across the American heartland. These extreme weather events are costing jobs, creating massive economic losses, and wrecking homes and businesses. Climate change is already costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars. The total cost for Hurricane Sandy was $71 billion. Shrinking water levels along the Mississippi river has put more than $7 billion worth of goods at risk. And, sadly, extreme weather is costing lives. It’s no wonder that in a poll taken immediately after the State of the Union message, NRDC found that 65 percent of Americans think climate change is a serious or very serious problem.
President Obama’s commitment to tackle climate was unmistakable:
But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. …
The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.
Obama’s climate promise should have implications for Canada.
President Obama has committed the U.S. to reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent by 2020 and is clearly forging new leadership on this critical issue. This is in stark contrast with the Canadian federal government as Canada has slid backward, and there are no indications they will be able to meet their 17 percent goal. Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy have both said Canada does not have policies in place to meet its target. Canada’s climate track record reached a low point when Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada would be the only country that has formally withdrawn from the Kyoto accord.
The President’s commitment to action should have implications for Canada’s growing tar sands oil industry and the decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a fundamental element in the oil industry’s plan to triple production of tar sands oil from 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 million bpd by 2030, and in the longer term to hike production to more than 9 million bpd. Approving a pipeline that would carry over 800,000 barrels of carbon intensive oil would be inconsistent with progress on climate.
Millions of citizens across America have sent President Obama their recommendations for making early progress on his climate promise. And last month, over 70 leading environmental organizations asked President Obama to take three actions :
To elevate the issue of climate disruption and climate solutions in the public discourse.
Use executive authority to make urgently needed reduction in U.S. carbon pollution by setting standards for America’s ageing power plant fleet.
Reject dirty fuels starting with rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline because it would unlock vast amount of additional carbon we can’t afford to burn.
The Hip Hop Caucus has joined with 350.org, one of the most dynamic and efficacious climate movement organizations in existence today, and the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest environmental organization in the country, to co-convene the largest climate rally in U.S. history – Forward On Climate on Sunday, February 17, 2013. Over 80 organizations have partnered on this effort, and as a result of so many different groups and people coming together, the climate movement has never been so energized and mobilized.
The stakes are so very high. With so many people in the streets marching, with so many people on social media discussing and sharing information, and with so many diverse leaders and celebrities speaking out and standing up, President Obama truly has a serious decision in front of him. He can either reject the pipeline and stand with the people for a sustainable future for our planet, or he can approve the pipeline to please big oil companies who have spent over $150 million to promote this pipeline project.
I know there are those within President Obama’s fine Administration who are wondering why there are so many people making such a big deal about ‘this one pipeline project.’ The status-quo folks inside Washington, DC do not agree with the line in the sand that the movement has drawn. The line in the sand being that either President Obama is really about a sustainable future for this planet and the health of our people (if he rejects this pipeline project), or instead, he cannot overcome the incredible power of corporate oil interests on our political process (if he approves this pipeline project). This Keystone XL decision is a true litmus test.
The status-quo folks inside Washington, on the left and the right, would rather just give the oil lobby the decision they want on this pipeline, and have the movement look the other way.
I could not be prouder of the leadership of our fellow Forward On Climate Rally co-conveners 350.org and the Sierra Club, and all the partners listed here, for rising above the powerful culture in Washington, DC, where all are encouraged and incentivized not to demand what is right for the people, but to demand what is convenient for the politicians.
The thousands, upon thousands of people who are coming on buses from across the country this Sunday, February 17, sacrificing time, money and energy to march in the streets, are coming to demand what is right. It is surely not convenient for them to travel hours and hours so that they can march in the cold of February and then turn back around and ride home, facing a full workweek ahead. The climate movement is so energized right now because we are standing up for what is right, not what is easy, not what is politically expedient.
This is a courageous moment for our movement, which in turn demands courage from for our President. I believe President Obama is a courageous leader who will make the right decision by rejecting the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, and when he does, the people who elected him for a second term - the young, the old, the working class, the middle class, the beautiful Black, Brown, Asian, White, and American Indian people of this country - will have his back.
From crippling drought to Hurricane Sandy, and overall record-breaking temperatures extremes across the country, it’s hard to ignore the effects of climate change. The American people recognize that the climate is changing. President Obama’s inaugural speech included a call to action on climate change and organizers across the country intend to hold him to it – starting with the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s why the Will Steger Foundation along with 120+ organizations across the US have joined the Sierra Club and 350.org to launch Forward On Climate rally, expected to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history - February 17th on the National Mall in Washington DC. 350.org is calling it “the largest symbol of hope for a safe climate future that this country has ever seen,” with tens of thousands of people expected to attend.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” - Barack Obama, January 22nd, 2013
In the words of Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition’s young Executive Director: “The inaugural address felt like both a validation of all the work we’ve been doing, and a renewed call to action.” Two years ago, Maura and a small group of key youth leaders sat down across the table from the President. “I will never forget his words,” she wrote in a recent blog post, “Your job is to push me.” Youth across the country are working tirelessly to do just this.
For Midwest youth, the call to action is tied closely to a deep sense of place and regional identity. The Upper Midwest is home to some of the United State’ largest industrial and agricultural centers and a major emitter of greenhouse gasses. The region is poised to play a pivotal role in America’s clean energy future because of this strong industrial base, as well as its vast potential for generating power from wind and other renewable sources, and the crucial role of its Congressional delegations in shaping national energy policy.
Student organizers in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota have been deeply involved in the coal fight, successfully organizing to transition their campuses off of coal and joining larger coalitions to close municipal plants such as the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago. Members of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition have been working tirelessly with partners across the state to halt the unregulated fracking boom currently underway. In Minnesota and Michigan, students are lobbying for clean energy policies at the state level and modeling sustainability initiatives in a wide range of communities.
Across the Midwest youth are organizing in large numbers to send delegations to the Forward on Climate rally – most traveling by bus. Liz Starke, Coordinator for the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, feels the momentum building and sees 2013 as the time to focus on “building power, in our movement and network and in our students.” The rally provides an opportunity to energize youth climate networks across the U.S., and send the message loud and clear that a generation of young people demand action to ensure a clean and just energy future.
A preliminary count of Midwest youth turnout for the rally includes (as of February 11th):
Ohio - 275
Missouri - 110
Indiana - 75
Michigan - 55
Illinois - 50
Minnesota - 25
The Will Steger Foundation is committed to empowering youth climate leadership across the Midwest as a critical means to winning on climate. We are proud to support a delegation of high school students from our Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota (YEA! MN) program who will be joining the rally and sharing their experiences through video and blogs. Stay tuned!
Share the love for kids and climate. Fight climate change every day- 3 times a day! Join Cool Foods Campaign in making a commitment to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by choosing climate-friendly foods for your Valentines whenever possible. And, on February 17th, tell Obama and Congress to move Forward on Climate now!
Your legacy as 44th president of the United States rests firmly on your leadership on climate disruption. Only the president has the power to lead an effort on the scale and with the urgency we need to phase out fossil fuels and lead America, and the world, in a clean energy revolution.
We support your demonstrating the strongest resolve in fighting the climate crisis on every front.
Michael Brune (Sierra Club) Bill McKibben (350.org) Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. (Hip Hop Caucus) Van Jones (Rebuild the Dream) Julian Bond (NAACP) Tom Steyer (The Center for the Next Generation) Adam Levine Alec Baldwin Alicia Silverstone Amanda Shaw Bonnie Raitt Circa Survive Darren Aronofsky Devotchka Edward Norton Edward James Olmos Elle Macpherson Elvis Perkins Evangeline Lilly Fabien Cousteau Graham Nash Guster Harper Simon Ian Somerhalder Incubus Indigo Girls Jack Johnson Jason Mraz Joel Rafael Julia Louis-Dreyfus Linkin Park Malin Akerman Medeski Martin & Wood Michael Franti Mike de la Rocha Morgan Freeman My Morning Jacket Ozomatli Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky Phillipe Cousteau Phosphorescent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Russell Simmons Susan Sarandon Thao Nguyen The Black Angels The Wood Brothers tUnE-yArDs Woody Harrelson Yoko Ono
In his second inaugural address last month, President Barack Obama forcefully articulated a case for confronting the climate crisis. In his State of the Union speech, I encourage him to lay out a plan on it.
I realize Congress can be an obstacle. A few years ago, the right and left discussed how best to tackle the climate crisis. Today, it has become an article of faith among some conservatives to ignore science and deny there is a human-made crisis at all. Just last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, the oft-touted 2016 GOP savior who will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union, falsely claimed there was “reasonable debate” on the issue.
There isn’t. There is no alternative but to act.
As if the warnings from scientists weren’t enough, in 2012 — the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S. — we saw the true face of climate change: freak storms, raging wildfires, a new Dust Bowl in the heartland and devastating damages. Most heartbreakingly, innocent lives were lost.
Here’s what Obama can do to help stop climate change — and what he should announce in his speech.
In solidarity with Idle No More and the Tar Sands Blockade, Seattle area activists send a clear message to Shell outside the entrance to their Puget Sound refinery in Anacortes, WA: Stay out of the Arctic and get out of the Tar Sands!
Shell is not only one of the largest non-Canadian players in the destructive Alberta tar sands operation; they are also refining tar sands at their Puget Sound refinery, which is brought down from Canada via pipeline and oil tankers. An average of two tankers full of diluted tar sands bitumen travels through the Puget Sound every week, and just one tar sands spill could devastate the marine life in the Sound, the livelihood of a lot of the Native tribes living in the region, as well as the overall regional economy. Also, communities living downwind and downstream of refineries using tar sands are exposed to chemicals far more corrosive and toxic than those in conventional oil. These chemicals also make the refineries more prone to explosion and fire.
And at the same time, Shell is trying to drill for oil in the Arctic and, since last summer, has shown just how dangerous and irresponsible it is to do so. It has had a whole a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses, including the grounding of the Kulluk, their main drill-ship, off the coast of Alaska just a few weeks ago, while on its way to a Seattle shipyard, and in order to avoid paying a set of taxes to Alaska. The Obama administration is currently deciding whether to allow Shell to continue with its plans for drilling in the Arctic, and it’s pretty clear they should not be authorized to do so. The Beaufort and Chukchi seas have been called the “nursery of the planet” for whales, seabirds, polar bears, and many other species, and allowing Shell to drill up there would most certainly be their doom.
We are moms, dads, grandparents, uncles, aunts, every day people, from all walks and corners of this great country and beyond. We are doing the best we can to make the world as safe a place as we can for our children to grow up in. But we see clearly that we are at a crossroads, we are concerned and scared and see that the path we need to take is steep and long, and we will need YOUR help to traverse it. Don’t allow supestorms, droughts, floods, fires, heat waves and sea level rise to define our future, overwhelm our economy and be our legacy. WE must move FORWARD ON CLIMATE and we must do so now, together.
You told us that this path “towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.” We believe you, we are with you and we need you to lead us. We, like you, are connecting the dots and realizing that the extreme weather we have been feeling, smelling, breathing, and living through is climate change and our new reality.
For too long the “emperor has worn no clothes” and we can see that clearly now. Ignorance is no excuse, and we are no longer ignorant nor do we have our eyes closed to the connections between our actions, extreme weather and our changing climate. We cannot nor can you deny the reality that is in front of us and which scientists the world over have made clear to us – the connection between our use and burning of fossil fuels, and our changing climate. Science is clearly showing us, and our natural world is screaming at us in pain:“climate change is real, its now, its happening, and humans are in large part, to blame”.
Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace and moving towards a dangerous precipice – faster and in more unimaginable ways then was thought possible even as recently as when you were first elected. The seas are rising higher and higher, and the planet is not able to heal. We need you to step up and embrace your legacy as the CLIMATE FORWARD president. We are scared but we know that we need to be bold and brave as we move forward to a new, renewable future for our children. This urgency and the actions that are required, mean that we need to have your help and your support.
We need a massive shift away from fossil fuels to a clean, renewable energy future. We need this for the health of our children for their future and for the health and future of our country and our planet. We know that such huge change will present immense challenges, but that it will also offer incredible opportunities for us all. An ALL OF THE ABOVE energy policy is not a viable option for the health of our children or our planet.
As we send our children out the door to school every morning and when we tuck them into bed each night, we regularly remind them to “make good and wise choices.” When they are grown and no longer under our roof, we hope and pray that they will continue to do so. President Obama we need you to be bold, brave and strong, and MOVE FORWARD ON CLIMATE. This means that you have to make good and wise choices. Continuing to indiscriminately burn more and more fossil fuels is neither a good nor a wise choice.
We, the human species have now for the first time in the history of our planet, become the most powerful climate forcing agent on the planet. As we bear witness to the reality of climate change, for it is here and now, we also must acknowledge our responsibility. As Voltaire said and as repeated wisely by Peter Parker’s Uncle: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. It’s time for us all, including and especially you, to step up to the plate and accept our responsibility!
On behalf of our community of Climate Mamas and Papas across our country and beyond, we are asking you to stand with us and STAND UP for us and say NO to THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE.One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, let us all traverse this steep and long path that is before us, together.
Why Larry Summers is so, so very wrong on Keystone XL
posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
I’ve always wanted to be like Cornel West, so I guess this is my best shot at it. Larry Summers, with whom Brother West so famously tussled, has an op-ed up in the Washington Post this morning in which he repeats the very wrongheaded idea that the tar sands in Canada will be exploited with or without the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s so wrong that it makes me want to tussle with Summers, too.
Here’s what Summers wrote:
"Fourth, the transformation of the North American energy sector needs to be accelerated. This will have economic and environmental benefits. Those who will decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run between the tar sands of western Canada and Nebraska, need to recognize that Canadian oil not flowing to the United States will probably flow to Asia, where it will be burned with fewer environmental protections."
I may never have Cornel’s amazing hair or huge intellect, but I do share in his joy in proving Larry Summers wrong. The problem with Summers’s argument, besides that its defeatist, is that it’s dead wrong. You know who agrees with me? The ENTIRE tar sands industry, who has been telling anyone who will listen that they need KXL to fulfill their grand ambition to develop the tar sands. Here’s a fact sheet with quote after quote from the industry in which they say that they have a surplus of dirty oil but not enough pipe to get it out to market. The result has been a price drop so big that the Globe and Mail just published a sort of post mortem on the tar sands industry.
If the industry does develop the tar sands, here’s what we can expect: They will move a mass of earth equivalent to the size of France. And we will take concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere from 390PPM today to 600ppm. 390ppm just brought us the hottest year on record in the US; what do you think 600ppm will bring us, Mr. Summers?
Dozens of Leaders and Entertainers Call for Climate Action
Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club
In a new ad and open letter today, more than 30 notable entertainment and environmental leaders joined with the Sierra Club, 350<em>.</em>org, the NAACP, Rebuild the Dream, the Hip Hop Caucus, and the Center for the Next Generation to call for bold climate leadership:
While seeking the divine, virtually every major world faith has been led to the belief that we are called to take care of one another. Part of that means taking of care of creation - the air, the water, and the mountaintops, as well as our brothers and sisters who are harmed when we pollute the climate. That’s why faith groups like GreenFaith, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, and the Earth Quaker Action Team have signed on as rally partners.
This weekend is the National Preach-In on Global Warming from Interfaith Power & Light. Prepare for next weekend’s big day by finding out if a house of worship near you will be featuring a climate change or creation care sermon this weekend! Learn more from the IPL blog post below:
Have you heard? There’s a big event this month for people of faith who want real action on climate? Uh, no, it’s not that big event. The Forward on Climate event set for Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17 is certainly going to be huge. Thousands of folks will skip going to church, synagogue, or mosque to join the masses on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and demand that President Obama reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Yet not everyone can make it to D.C., so this weekend, thousands of people of faith will pray and petition for climate action during the fifth annual Preach-In on Global Warming, and they’ll do it without leaving their hometowns.
From a Jewish Jazz Shabbat service in Los Angeles to breakfast and-a-movie in Minnesota, diverse faith congregations across America will showcase religious efforts to act on climate change.
The 2013 National Preach-In sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light will help millions of people in the pews understand why temperature extremes, drought, wildfires and “superstorms” mean climate change is with us now — and what we can do to address it.
Many events will include the opportunity to send messages to President Barack Obama, who said in his second inaugural address that we have a God-given responsibility to address the issue. Petitions and postcards for the president, along with sermons and other resources, can be downloaded at the Preach-In website and may be used beyond the official Preach-In dates of Feb. 8-10.
A Green Living Expo at Grace Lutheran Church in Tampa, Florida, will feature locally grown food, exhibits by local artisans and crafters, and a workshop on “Caring for God’s Earth” from Sunshine State Interfaith Power & Light.
At Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, California, climate change and education will be the dual topics at the Reform Jewish congregation’s Jazz Shabbat service.
Spirit of Joy Christian Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, plans a breakfast screening of The Hungry Tide, a documentary film about how rising seas threaten the Pacific Ocean nation of Kiribati. (Discounted copies of the DVD are available at www.preachin.org.) Afterward, “Even Minnesota is Getting Warmer” will be the worship service theme.
The Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin plans an informational table before and after congregational prayers at the Islamic Center of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In Lee, New Hampshire, a Baha’i house party will feature Andrew Ogden of the University of New Hampshire, who will talk about “Innovations in Agriculture: Growing Food in a Climate Uncertain World.”
Parkway United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will offer congregants an opportunity to send postcards to President Obama and learn about the growing campaign to divest in fossil fuel companies.
Get more details on these events, explore others, and add your own at preachin.org.
Obama's Legacy, the Climate Rally, and What It Means for Coal
By Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director
My daughter Hazel is no stranger to rallies and public hearings. I’ve taken her to all sorts of events, because it’s her future that’s at stake… and sometimes because no babysitters are available. But one event I am very excited to bring her to is the upcoming Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, February 17.
The chance to rally with tens of thousands of other Americans of all ages — all who want serious action on climate disruption from President Obama — well, that’s something that no one should miss, no matter how young or old you are. It’s shaping up to be the largest climate rally in US history, and Hazel and I hope to see you there.
I frequently mention Hazel in my columns because she’s the main inspiration for the work I do to protect this planet for her, and for future generations. I know that someday she will ask me what I did to help stop climate change, and I want to be able to answer her, with honesty and pride, about the amazing work the Sierra Club and so many others have done.
One example of that amazing and important work is our Obama Climate and Clean Energy Legacy campaign, which features 100 days of action from coast to coast, including the Feb. 17 climate rally. Last month I helped unveil the campaign, which lays out a clear roadmap for President Obama to take action on climate disruption and clean energy.
The Obama Climate and Clean Energy Legacy brings together the Sierra Club’s 2.1 million members and supporters to push the Obama administration to tackle the most serious environmental crisis of our age. It outlines a host of actions the Obama administration can take — without waiting for Congress — that all add up to a strong climate and clean energy legacy for the President.
Many of the actions Obama can take are specifically related to coal and clean energy. They include:
Hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for their pollution: Adopt and enforce coal pollution protections for carbon, soot, smog, sulfur, water toxics and coal ash, and set water pollution standards that will end mountaintop removal mining.
Double down on clean energy: Open innovative financing and investment avenues for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Facilitate environmentally responsible leasing and deployment of clean energy generation and technologies on public lands and waters and within federal agencies.
Reject proposals to import dirty fuels and stop the rush of fossil fuel exports: Halt expansion of fossil fuel exports, such as new coal export terminals. Increase U.S.-backed international finance of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and phase out fossil fuel lending.
Protect America’s lands, air, water and wildlife from fossil fuel development: Stop the rush to expand coal mining on our public lands.
The next four years will be pivotal in the fight to address climate disruption and move America toward clean energy. We urge President Obama to take these actions on coal and clean energy to help stop climate disruption, and to leave a legacy of clean air and water, and a healthy planet, for Hazel and all children. Over the next 100 days and the next four years, the Sierra Club will be working hard to push and support the President in taking these actions to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our families.
I hope you will join me, Hazel, and thousands of others in Washington on February 17 to call for bold climate action — and leadership — from President Obama.
By Michael Marx, Senior Campaign Director, Sierra Club Beyond Oil
It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke: “A bright-eyed college student from upstate New York, a soft-spoken Unitarian from Santa Barbara, California, an environmental justice advocate from the Texas Gulf Coast, and a retired elementary school teacher and grandmother from Nebraska all get on the same bus…”
But it’s real—an amazing grassroots movement demanding solutions to the climate crisis, gaining momentum from coast to coast in preparation for the Forward on Climate Rally on February 17. The Sierra Club and 350.org, along with more than 120 partner organizations, are expecting tens of thousands of Americans to gather in front of the White House the Sunday of President’s Day weekend, making Forward on Climate the largest climate-related rally in U.S. history.
John Bolenbaugh, a Navy veteran from Battle Creek, Michigan, will be participating in the rally. “I’m a different man than I used to be,” John says. “I used to be just a normal union worker. I never thought I’d become an activist. But that all changed when I saw what these Big Oil companies were doing to my community.”
In July 2010, a tar sands pipeline burst near Battle Creek, spilling more than a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. John worked for a Michigan-based company that was contracted by Enbridge, a Canadian tar sands oil company and the owner of the pipeline, to clean up the spill.
But after a few weeks on the job, John realized “they weren’t cleaning up properly. Oil was being buried instead of cleaned up. And all that oil that was being buried could drip down into the groundwater. All these chemicals could make us sick.”
John lodged complaints with the EPA, Enbridge, and his local employer about seeing the oil being buried. “No one would do anything about it,” he says. “One night, I came to Enbridge and said, ‘I live here, and I don’t want to see this happen. Kids are swimming in the river.’ The next day my boss let me go. It was a good job, and the economy is bad in Michigan. But I couldn’t sleep at night, seeing all this happen.”
Since losing his job, John has become an outspoken opponent of the proposed Keystone pipeline, which would stretch 1,700 miles across American six states, carrying up to 830,000 barrels per day of toxic tar sands crude. And he is among the tens of thousands of people demanding that President Obama reject TransCanada’s permits for the pipeline. Tar sands crude is the dirtiest oil on Earth, with more heavy metals and cancer-causing toxins than conventional oil, and a production process that creates up to three times more climate-disrupting pollution. Tar sands pipelines are dangerous—an earlier TransCanada pipeline suffered 14 spills in its first 12 months of operation.
John says he’s traveling to Washington, D.C., to tell President Obama: “I’ve seen the damage from a tar sands oil spill. It’s killed people and poisoned our water and land. If you allow this pipeline to be built, Mr. President, it will happen again. There will be a spill along the pipeline route, and it could be above the aquifer that gives us 30 percent of our water in the Midwest. We can’t let this happen.”
John’s voice—along with those of the New York college student, the Santa Barbara churchgoer, the Texan environmental justice activist, and the Nebraska grandmother—is going to ring out loud and clear on February 17. President Obama must lead our nation in the transition to a clean-energy economy that will create jobs, clean our air and water, protect our wild places, and improve our health. It’s time to move America Forward on Climate.
McKibben: "If there were ever a stupid and indefensible scheme, it’s this long straw from the tarsands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico."
Bil McKibben today in the Hill on why KLX is so important to defeat:
Watching President Obama give his inaugural address was uplifting. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said — and I felt almost as reassured as I had in 1988 when George H.W. Bush promised that he would battle “the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.” But I fear the intervening quarter-century has allowed just the tiniest bit of cynicism to seep into my soul.
Here’s why: the president didn’t go on to say, “and therefore I’m going to kill the Keystone pipeline just as soon as I can.”
If there were ever a stupid and indefensible scheme, it’s this long straw from the tarsands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. But so far it lives on, sustained by the vitalizing transfusion of lobbying dollars. In the wake of the president’s speech I kept hearing whispers: “Oh, environmentalists will trade him the pipeline for an end to Arctic drilling,” or for new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, or some other shiny object.
Rally Speakers to Include Van Jones, Rev. Yearwood, and more
Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club
On Wednesday, February 6, Michael Brune, May Boeve, and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood hosted a video chat about the rally. The executive directors of the Sierra Club and 350.org and the CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus provided details, fired us up, and took questions about the climate crisis. They also announced the first list of speakers: In addition to Brune and Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Rev. Yearwood, and Maria Cardona will be taking the stage, with more to come!
At noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Green America is proud to be a sponsor of this action, a project of 350.org, Sierra Club, and the Hip Hop caucus. We urge all Green Americans who can make the trip to join us at this historic event — come make your voice heard!
In his eloquent inaugural address, President Obama stated: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. We cannot cede to other nations the [clean energy] technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise.” Now is the time for President Obama to address the climate crisis by rejecting, once and for all, the Keystone XL dirty tar sands pipeline.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States. We should be far further ahead than we are in developing renewable energy technologies, so it is imperative that we now accelerate our shift to renewable energy. We also need to emphasize energy efficiency programs that can make a tremendous difference.
Video Chat with Michael Brune, May Boeve, and the Rev. Yearwood today!
Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club
Today (Wednesday, February 6) at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT), join Michael Brune, May Boeve, and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood for a video chat about the Forward On Climate Rally! The executive directors of the Sierra Club and 350.org and the CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus will provide details, fire us up, and take your questions about the climate crisis.
Business leaders across the nation understand that climate change, if not addressed, will impose substantial economic costs on the US. All of us will spend more money to harden our infrastructure, repair storm-damaged homes, pay more for health care and fresh water and watch property values deteriorate. These costs will make the US economy less productive and less competitive. This is especially bad news for the small to mid-size businesses that create the most jobs in our country.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is not an economically viable project. We believe that the market would not be able to bear the true cost of the pipeline without major government subsidies. If the private sector were to internalize the full cost, including the setting up of a fully adequate fund against damage from the possible spills, land despoliation, water clean-up, medical costs, carbon emissions, and other damages associated with the Pipeline, it would be a losing financial proposition.
Nor do we believe that the Pipeline will create the large number of jobs its supporters contend. As a March 2012 study from Cornell University noted, an equal investment in clean energy generates 3 to 4 times as many jobs as investments in fossil fuels, without the potential environmental hazards posed by pipelines like Keystone XL. The Pipeline will do very little (and at great cost) to improve the nation’s energy security. In fact, much of the output is destined for export.
To address this danger, the United States needs to take action to lower our own carbon output. Doing so will put us in a better negotiating position to encourage other large emitting nations (mainly China and India) to reduce their own GHG emissions. The money that needs to be spent to build the pipeline would be more productively directed toward developing less carbon- intensive energy sources and infrastructure (such as smart grid) and increasing energy efficiency. The US needs to double down in its investments in the $5 trillion global clean technology market (and the jobs that go with it). We applaud the gains that Germany and other nations are making in clean energy, but do not think it wise for the US to become an also ran in this dynamic industry.
Nurses Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline, Cite Adverse Effects of Increased Air Pollution, Climate Change on Public Health
posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
Great news! National Nurses United union comes out against Keystone XL!
For Immediate Release
February 5, 2013
Contact: Charles Idelson, (510) 273-2246
Citing serious adverse health concerns, National Nurses United announced today that it is joining with environmentalists, unions and other organizations from across the country to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline – the 1,700 mile of tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to refineries in Texas. With 185,000 members, NNU is the largest organization and union of registered nurses.
The Keystone XL could have a significant impact on the health of communities in the tar sands production areas along its route and refinery fence line communities where the heavy sour crude will be processed. In addition, the emissions from tar sands will exacerbate climate change which affects public health much more broadly even than the widespread direct impacts of the tar sands industry.
“Nurses care for patients every day who struggle with health crises aggravated by environmental pollution in its many forms,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN. “As a society we need to reduce the effects of environmental factors, including climate change, that are making people sick, and endangering the future for our children. That’s why we oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”
NNU is particularly concerned about the impact of climate change in hastening the spread of infectious disease, waterborne and food borne pathogens, and air pollution which already lead to significant health problems across the U.S.
Today, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas adversely affected by air pollution with levels of particle pollution that can cause higher incidents of asthma, heart attacks, and premature death. Asthma is already a growing problem in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 10 percent of all U.S. children suffer from asthma.
Carbon emissions are a major factor in intensifying climate change. Higher air temperatures can increase bacteria-related food poisoning, such as salmonella, and animal-borne diseases such as West Nile virus. Ground level ozone contaminants can damage lung tissue, reduce lung function, and increase respiratory ailments.
In addition to toxic gas emissions, NNU also cited the high risk of spills along the proposed path of the pipeline.
On July 25, 2010, a tar sands oil pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Mi. The diluted bitumen traveled 40 miles down the Kalamazoo River to Morrow Lake. More than a month later, health providers reported 145 patients with symptoms associated with the spill. State officials surveyed 550 people from communities along the river and found 53 percent of the residents reported health problems – headaches, nausea and respiratory ailments.
The Michigan Department of Community Health reported an increase in rates of diagnosed cancers of the lung and bronchus in neighborhoods in southwest Detroit near oil refineries. The neighbors – many are too poor to move —are concerned even more as refineries will start to process tar sands oil from Canada, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
“Our leaders should be focused on finding safe, sustainable energy that would also help stem the increase in environmental pollution and climate change,” said Burger. “The health of our world depends on it.”
The nurses are also supporting a Robin Hood Tax – a small tax on Wall Street trades that could raise up to $350 billion a year. A portion of that money could go toward finding safe green energy to challenge the domination of the global fossil fuel industry and make a substantial contribution to addressing the global challenge of climate change. To learn more about the Robin Hood Tax, go to www.robinhoodtax.org
Robert Redford blog: You Can Move Washington, D.C. Forward on Climate Change
Written By Robert Redford, posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
On February 17, tens of thousands are coming together in Washington, D.C. to ask the president to stand up for climate. The Forward on Climate Rally is expected to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history.
How fitting that this will happen on President’s Day weekend after the inspiring inaugural address from President Obama about the moral necessity to tackle climate change for ourselves and for our children.
This is the beginning. The beginning of a real battle, for America’s future.
Real economic security is found in clean energy. That’s our future, not dirty energy that threatens us with ever worsening harm from climate change.
From rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to limiting carbon pollution from our nation’s dirty power plants, President Barack Obama’s legacy will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.
The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would carry the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada to America’s Gulf Coast’s refineries and ports, and then most of it likely exported overseas. It would promote one of the most damaging industrial practices ever devised, to coax low-grade crude oil from tar sands. We don’t need another pipeline for Canadian tar sands. It’s not in our national interest but is a profit scheme for big oil that needs to be rejected.
And in addition to the ability to say no to this dirty fuels project, the president has both the authority and the responsibility to limit the amount of industrial carbon pollution emitted from power plants. Taking this action will set the right course for reducing carbon pollution domestically and send the right signals that the U.S. is ready to lead globally. The Natural Resources Defense Council has laid out a common-sense plan that will cut carbon pollution; provide jobs to thousands of Americans; and save families real money in electricity bills.
It’s the 21st century. We’re not about to turn back now. Wind, solar, and other renewable power, now that, to me, is the future. It’s clean energy that will produce new and plentiful jobs for generations to come without the disastrous effects of tar sands and carbon-belching power plants.
So, on February 17, join the rally in D.C. to stand up for the future you know we deserve. Stand up to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Stand up for power plant carbon standards. Stand up for climate leadership.
"As visionary as Obama is, he is hamstrung by his pragmatism." So says Michael Marx of the Sierra Club, America’s largest grassroots environmental organization. It is therefore "incumbent on our movement," Marx continues, to press the president to be more visionary than pragmatic during his second term—above all on climate change, the make-or-break challenge for our civilization.
One way to push Obama is through “a show of force,” Marx says, by turning out large numbers of people at two big climate demonstrations planned this year in Washington. The rallies, on Presidents’ Day weekend (February 17) and Earth Day (April 22), will bookend a 100-day Obama Climate and Clean Energy Legacy campaign intended to press the president to show much stronger environmental leadership in his second term…
The campaigners will appeal both to Obama’s visionary and pragmatic sides. With climate change arriving much sooner and nastier than even the most pessimistic scientists had predicted, activists will argue that Obama must regard this crisis as fundamental to his legacy: history will remember whether this president avoided the climate cliff, not the fiscal one. Obama seems receptive to this argument; in his second inaugural address, he declared that Americans must “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Pragmatically, activists are urging Obama to use his executive authority and take immediate actions, which he can do without approval from congressional Republicans who refuse even to acknowledge the existence of climate change, much less move against it. These actions include the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline; Obama’s decision on the pipeline, currently under review by the State Department, is expected this spring. Activists will also be pressing the administration to use the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act to slash US greenhouse gas emissions, with different groups pushing for a range of approaches (more on these below).
Sierra Club Boss: It's Now or Never on Climate, Mr. President
Uploaded by Eddie Scher, The Sierra Club
In an exclusive op-ed, Michael Brune argues that time is running out for Barack Obama to take meaningful action on climate change.
In his first term, President Obama did more than any other president toreduce greenhouse gas emissions and scale up clean energy. But his administration is far from realizing its potential for strong action. In fact, the president has considerable authority that he has not yet fully used to help our country build a clean energy economy.
That’s why the Sierra Club has launched its Obama Climate and Clean Energy Legacy Campaign, which will feature 100 days of action leading up to Earth Day. The biggest of these actions, the Forward on Climate Rally,will happen this Presidents Day Weekend on February 17, in Washington, D.C. It will be the largest climate rally in American history, and the goal is to demand that the president reject the Keystone XL pipeline and tackle climate disruption with all the authority, determination, and ambition he can muster.
Activist interrupts pipeline conference, releases photos of flawed welds on Keystone XL pipeline.
Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel, The Woodlands, TX – 9 am this morning, TransCanada executive Tom Hamilton’s presentation of a Keystone XL case study at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference was interrupted when a blockader chained himself to the projector screen and delivered a speech to the nearly 300 attendees. Hamilton, the Manager of Quality and Compliance for the Keystone Pipeline, was supposed to give a forty-minute talk about safety and regulations related to the southern portion of the KXL pipeline. Instead, Tar Sands Blockade organizer Ramsey Sprague gave an impassioned rebuttal highlighting TransCanada’s poor safety record.
Sprague described shoddy welding practices and dangerous corner-cutting throughout TransCanada’s operations as exposed by whistleblowers like Evan Vokes, a metallurgic engineer who came forward in May 2012, leading to an investigation by Canada’s National Energy Board. Sprague reminded attendees that TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline has already leaked over 30 times and that other industry leaders such as Enbridge are similarly negligent, with over 800 spills since 1999. He derided TransCanada for routing the KXL pipeline through ecologically sensitive areas and through communities like the one in Douglass, TX, where construction crews are actively laying pipe within sight of the Douglass public school.
Sprague also described how activists who blockaded themselves inside the actual KXL pipe on December 3rd could see daylight through holes in welds connecting segments of pipe – and how Tar Sands Blockade has the pictures to prove it. That mile-long section of the pipe was laid in the ground on the same day; no additional welding or inspection occurred after the photos were taken.
Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
It’s been almost two years since I sat down across a table from the President of the United States, but I will never forget his words: "Your job is to push me."
Photo Credit: The White House - Energy Action representatives meeting with President Obama.
It was those six words that echoed in my mind last week as I stood on the National Mall and watched President Obama use his inaugural address to forcefully place climate action at the top of his agenda.
The inaugural address felt like both a validation of all the work we’ve been doing, and a renewed call to action. We’ve come a long way since that meeting on the eve of Power Shift 2011, but we’re not done pushing.
That’s why on Feb. 17, I’m heading back to the National Mall — and I need you there with me.
RSVP for the Forward on Climate Rally today!
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. - Barack Obama, January 22nd, 2013
President Obama’s emphatic argument for the moral necessity of climate action is a moment we have been working toward for a long time. We have been asking the President to lead, and he couldn’t have chosen a higher-profile moment to step up.
But we know from experience that there is a big gap between vision and action, and that gap can only be filled by people power. The President can set the stage, but it’s up to us to get over the finish line. Now is the time to push harder than ever.
On February 17th, over 10,000 of us will be in Washington, DC to call on President Obama to take the first step and reject the Keystone XL pipeline, and show him that if he turns his bold words into bold action, we will be behind him — to have his back and push him to go further.
Will you join me there?
President Obama concluded his speech last Monday with a call for citizen action, saying “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.”
Up in the pristine Canadian boreal forests and freshwater deltas of Alberta, home to caribou, whooping crane and native communities settled long before Europeans arrived, a poisonous sore is being gouged out of the carbon-rich soil, a massive tar sands oil mining operation that could have huge climate impacts for people across the globe.
New information shows that oil industry plans to more than triple production of tar sands oil in the coming decades will include additional dirty petroleum byproducts, making it even harder for Canada to meet its planned greenhouse gas emission targets. Right now there is one major project standing in the way of tar sands expansion — a roadblock that Canadian oil interests are desperate to crash through.
That roadblock is the Obama Administration’s decision whether to grant a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion project that would pump more than 800,000 barrels of toxic tar sands crude each day from Alberta’s forests through America’s agricultural heartland to refineries in the Gulf, where much of the oil would be processed and exported. The administration is expected to release a supplemental Environmental impact Statement soon, with the final Keystone decision expected in coming months.
You can help stop the tar sands devastation and protect the climate. Watch this video about climate threats posed by the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and find out how to join the February 17 Forward on Climate Rally in Washington, D.C.
Climate scientists warn that further development of fossil fuel energy sources like tar sands oil will spell disaster for the planet’s climate, a point made clear in the release of the draft study of the National Climate Assessment this month. “If we fully develop the tar sands resources we will certainly lose control of the climate, we will get to a point where we can no walk back from the cliff,” says University of St. Thomas energy expert John Abraham, who has studied the climate impacts of tar sands oil emissions.
That’s because tar sands oil is particularly dirty — at least three times as carbon intensive as conventional oil—resulting in a refining process that includes carbon-intensive byproducts like petroleum coke — or petcoke — that can be burned like coal in refineries at the receiving end of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in Texas. According to a new report released by Oil Change International, petcoke burned from tar sands oil would equal the climate pollution of five additional coal fired power plants, boosting overall carbon emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline by 13 percent. Oil Change International research director Lorne Stockman describes it this way:
“The refineries at the end of the Keystone XL pipeline are some of the biggest petcoke factories in the world today. By supplying them with tar sands bitumen, the petcoke embedded in the tar sands would find its way to the world market…petcoke from the tar sands is making coal fired generation dirtier and cheaper and this puts another nail in the coffin of any rational argument for further exploitation of the tar sands.”
Oil industry supporters claim that if the Keystone XL pipeline is not built, tar sands oil will find its way to other markets through future North American pipelines built to the east or west coasts. But many researchers say those projects are mere pipedreams, since the tar sands industry faces major opposition from local communities on the east and west coasts, where residents are worried about tar sands oil spills and other environmental impacts. The Pembina Institute’s Nathan Lemphers worked on a new comprehensive report that lays out the facts surrounding tar sands expansion and the Keystone XL pipeline, which he says is a crucial lynchpin in the development of the tar sands:
The Keystone XL pipeline is critical for further expansion of the oil sands. Major financial institutions in Canada have said that the lack of pipeline capacity is a rate limiting step for the oil sands…if it’s (Keystone XL) not build, it’ll start to moderate the growth of the oil sands and it will send a clear signal to the financial community and the oil sands community that they need to address the carbon emissions that come from the oil sands.
Tar sands processing plant in Alberta Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
But growing opposition to the Canadian tar sands is not just a not-in-my-backyard concern—everyone is hurt by higher emissions from the dirtiest oil on the planet. The scientific community is especially concerned about rapidly melting Arctic ice, rising sea levels and extreme weather events associated with climate change that we are already witnessing. In December, some of the country’s top climate scientists sent President Obama a letter urging his administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, citing last year’s recent record-setting temperatures and storms as evidence that we need bold action to cut global fossil fuel emissions.
Earlier in January, 70 groups wrote President Obama urging him to take bold and decisive action to help protect the nation against climate change’s ravages. Danny Harvey, an energy and climate expert at the University of Toronto, said it best in our video: “Right now President Obama faces a critical choice. There’s no better time to say no to further expansion, say no to business as usual, and to begin the process of turning things around.”
On February 17, join people from all walks of life, from climate scientists to ranchers and farmers, who will gather in Washington, DC, to call for strong action to fight climate change. The Forward on Climate Rally will point the way for Obama to shape his climate legacy. One of the most important decisions he can make is to reject the Keystone pipeline and to tell the EPA to set carbon standards for power plants.
We the people have the power to demand action from our political leaders, to tell the lobbyists and oil industry fat cats that we’re tired of their business-as-usual dirty energy campaigns. We want clean energy solutions that create new technologies and long-term job opportunities, including money-saving projects like NRDC’s innovative plan to cut coal-fired power plant pollution.These are the kinds of investments that will build a more sustainable planet for all who inherit the Earth.
That’s certainly worth fighting for. Because if we don’t, who will?
A new video released by NRDC and 350.org explains how the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a lynchpin enabling the climate intensive tar sands industry to grow unimpeded. The video also discusses cutting edge research from Oil Change International showing how tar sands oil causes more carbon pollution than originally estimated. Recently, four energy experts and climate scientists from Canada and the U.S. traveled to Washington DC with an urgent message: If we are to truly respond to climate change which is causing extreme life-threatening weather, we must reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Watch the video and join tens of thousands of others on February 17 for the Forward on Climate rally in Washington DC. Join us and send a message to the Obama administration to move forward on climate action. President Obama promised that “we will respond to the threat of climate change.” As my colleague Dan Lashof said, delivering on that promise means setting carbon pollution standards for existing power plants and rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The video co-released by the NRDC and 350.org today brings the message from these four experts.
It features Dr. Danny Harvey, professor at the University of Toronto who noted that “The human race is in big trouble. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real. If Keystone is approved, we’re locking in several more decades of fossil fuels and higher levels of carbon dioxide and global warming.”
Dr. John Abraham, an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas said the exploitation of tar sands will significantly worsen the climate. “Climate change is the story related to Keystone. The drought and heat wave in Texas cost Texans $5.2 billion. Hurricane Sandy cost us $70 billion. Some people say it’s too expensive to develop clean energy. I say it’s too expensive not to. We can choose to expand clean energy or make the crazy choice to extract and use the dirtiest of the dirty.”
Lorne Stockman, Research Director for Oil Change International announced new research that shows that the emissions from tar sands oil are worse than originally believed. This is because the climate emissions from a byproduct of tar sands, petroleum coke which is made in the refinery process and is used in coal-fired power plants, have not been previously considered.
These experts also counter the notion that the climate impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline are small compared to total U.S. global greenhouse gas emissions. In short, approving Keystone XL would open the gateway to dramatic new development of tar sands oil and far more harm to our climate. Continuing to enable the expansion of tar sands in the face of catastrophic climate change is precisely a step in the wrong direction.
As Dr. Harvey best said, “There is no better time to say no to further expansion [of tar sands], to say no to business as usual, and to begin the process of turning things around. If we don’t say no now, when will we say no?”
AOSIS Support Forward on Climate Rally for Climate Action
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has graciously given their support for the upcoming Forward on Climate rally on February 17th in Washington, D.C.
350.org is ecstatic to have the support of these vulnerable nation-states. It’s they who bear the brunt of climate change and its crippling effects. Chair of AOSIS Marlene Moses explains:
“The rally comes in the aftermath of a season of record tropical storms in Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, and Fiji that has graphically illustrated how climate change involves the most fundamental aspect of social justice: that of life and death.”
Carleen Pickard at Stop Keystone XL protest in D.C., 2011. Photo Credit: Global Exchange
On a sunny November in 2011, thousands of us encircled the White House to say No to Keystone XL. This, after other direct actions in both Ottawa and DC also demanding rejection of the pipeline demonstrated our collective force for action on climate change.
It’s time again. President Obama must move America Forward on Climate in 2013 with decisive action to reduce dangerous carbon pollution.
Obama’s legacy as the 44th President of the United States of America rests squarely on his leadership in the face of an unstable climate future. The first milestone for President Obama is to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Join me and thousands of others in DC on Sunday, February 17th over President’s Day weekend — and show President Obama that the progressive movement and the communities that helped secure his victory are coming together to hold him to his promises.
What: The largest climate rally in history
Where: The National Mall in Washington, D.C., including a march to the White House
When: February 17, 2013, Noon - 4:00 p.m. (please arrive by 11:30 a.m.)
Look at the polls people, rejecting Keystone XL is a political winner for President Obama
Posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org. Cross-posted at the Huffington Post
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.
Just another pipe? It's the biggest straw out there, says Canada Finance Minister
Posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
Think this is just another pipeline? Canadian officials don’t agree. They continue to say that they have to have KXL to fully exploit the tar sands, estimated at 240Gt—half the carbon that IEA says we can burn to stay below 2 degrees of warming.
Check out this article about recent comments from Canada’s Finance Minster, Jim Flaherty, who says that without KXL the industry will have to look to build a pipe through the Arctic!
Regular readers of the blog know of our devotion here to the Oglalla aquifer, which is based on my long-held belief that we can do without having the Gobi Desert recreated between St. Louis and Denver. You will note that the Post here is limiting the “disquiet” in Nebraska to concern about the Sand Hills. This is the same bait-and-switch Governor Dave Heineman pulled the other day when he approved the revised pipeline route that avoids the Sand Hills but still crosses a piece of the aquifer. Also, a good part of the “disquiet” — nice word, Post — in Nebraska was occasioned because TransCanada was granted the power of eminent domain and has every intention of taking people’s land away, which would “disquiet” me.)
Young Turks Interview: Michael Brune on the first big test of Obama’s commitment to climate change. CurrentTV/Young Turks anchor Cenk Uygur talks to Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, about President Obama’s remarks on climate change during his inaugural address, possible executive action and the future of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
President Obama's words on climate change at his inauguration
Posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."