Today, thousands of people are giving the White House a big hug. They’re urging President Obama to reject TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in favour of weaning America from its dependence on oil by joining hands in ...
Today, thousands of people
are giving the White House a big hug. They’re urging President Obama to reject TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in favour of weaning America from its dependence on oil by joining hands in a giant circle around the President’s home.
The last week has brought several new twists and turns as the U.S. administration makes its way toward a decision. First, a State Department official mused that the review may drag on into the new year despite fierce pressure from the oil industry and elected officials in favour of the pipeline for a decision by the end of this year.
Next, President Obama went on television in Nebraska
and made it clear that he will take ownership over the final decision. Previously, the weight of the decision had rested on the State Department. The President also addressed the jobs issue, which TransCanada seems to be grossly over-stating
“You know, it does but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves we’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health.”
Finally, a comprehensive and damaging report of the State Department’s handling of the Keystone XL
review process raises big concerns about the credibility of the process. Whereas a year ago most industry observers expected the approval of Keystone XL to be a walk in the park, now several are starting to seriously question
what it would mean if the project is rejected or significantly delayed.
There are a few key lessons in this for the tar sands industry and its supporters regardless of what happens in the U.S. over the next few months:
1. We can’t keep bluffing it.
A big part of the controversy around Keystone XL is the source of the oil, Alberta’s tar sands, and the greater global warming impact of producing and burning it. U.S. citizens and the European Commission
are calling Canada out for failing to clamp down on carbon pollution from the tar sands industry.
2. People want to move beyond oil.
The oil industry would have us believe that we’re always going to need more oil, so we need to swallow the devastating impacts that come along with getting dangerous and dirty sources of it like tar sands. But thousands of American citizens want to hold President Obama to his pledge to "free American from the tryanny of oil
" and the technologies exist to do so. Canada, in its frenzied drive to sell more tar sands, risks getting left behind with a product no one wants.
3. You can’t always get what you want.
Oil companies are used to getting their way, but the groundswell of opposition to the project among a diverse array of U.S. citizens shows that this may be changing. The controversy over Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline is already building with more than 4,000 Canadians signed up
to participate in the public hearings on the project.
Now, all eyes are on the White House, literally and figuratively. We hope today’s event helps President Obama see that he has the support to make the right decision.