By NCIPL Intern Reuben Gelblum
Well, if you haven’t heard, Obama vetoed the Keystone XL bill Tuesday that he received from Congress, one of only three times he has used his presidential veto (for comparison, Reagan used his a record 78 times). Let us go ahead and say that we are elated about this decision.
Keystone XL involves building a pipeline from Canada to Mexico, where tar sands oil, the dirtiest in the world, would be shipped across the globe. While arguments for it have centered around its economic benefits, in fact only 50 permanent jobs would result from the project. Furthermore, the pipeline would cut across America’s heartland, a reason farmers and Native Americans have been some of the most vocal and steadfast opponents of this project. They are right to be concerned: there have been almost 6,000 pipeline accidents in the last twenty years and this one would cross more than 1,000 rivers, streams and waterways and come within a mile of 3,000 underground wells.
Keystone would also be a huge step backwards for the climate. Keystone’s dirtier oil would yield about 17% more greenhouse gases than normal crude oil. And this could go on for a while: there’s enough that Keystone alone could sustain the world’s current level of oil production for the next 245 years!
For these reasons and more, we are really happy about Obama’s decision to veto this bill. While we sympathize with Keystone proponents in their desire to improve the economy, we cannot help but feel that their reasoning is a little short-sighted. Ethics and evidence are on the side of renewables, not fossil fuels: they are cheaper, cleaner, and life-sustaining rather than life-threatening.
Yet, despite the good news of Obama’s veto, and his increasingly strong statements about climate change, serious work remains to be done. For example, the very same Obama administration recently released a draft five-year plan that would open the Atlantic to oil exploration for the first time, a plan that we’re not happy about.
Nonetheless we feel hopeful because of the incredible efforts made to fight Keystone and because, here in North Carolina, our state has some of the greatest capacities for solar and wind energy in the country. Check these stats out:
- We are 4th in the nation for how much solar we already have installed
- A recent report by Oceana identified North Carolina as having the greatest potential for wind energy and job creation among states along the Atlantic
- Our solar industry already supports 5,600 jobs and represents a $2 billion investment.
So much for renewable energy not being good for the economy!
The fight against Keystone XL has been years in the making, and we want to express our deep gratitude and admiration to the many people who courageously, and lovingly, worked to stop it. We are indebted to you and this veto shows that people power pays off.
(One example is North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams, who spoke out in the House of Representatives against the pipeline. Thanks, Congresswoman!)
Unfortunately, the struggle is not over. But President Obama has the power to stop it. Please, take a moment, read this beautiful letter to the President asking him to put an end to Keystone, and add your name. It’s one more way to show your love for creation.
We know that this work, that caring about creation, can be a draining, scary, and at times overwhelming experience. That’s one reason we developed our Earth Sabbath Celebrations. And it’s why, right now, we hope that you allow yourself to relish the joy of this moment: after years of organizing, lobbying, and spreading the word, we just witnessed the President of the United States veto a major bill, one proposing a terrible project.
Doing this work can be hard and it’s important to notice and celebrate the good things. So go out and celebrate, think about all the things that make you hopeful, and about the wondrous beauty and mystery of creation that is at the heart of this work. You deserve it!
P.S. For some local efforts, we’re planning our first advocacy day, Faith Voices for Clean Energy, on March 25th, where you can take part in-person at the legislature or online.