Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest Signals a Renewed Fight for Clean Energy

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest Signals a Renewed Fight for Clean Energy
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Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to celebrate the positive things in life, to cherish friends and family and individual accomplishments. But in a rapidly-warming world chock-full of violent storms, severe droughts and extreme weather events, common traditions can be turned upside down. Just ask residents of the northeast struggling to make ends meet after Superstorm Sandy blasted through their communities and destroyed holiday plans for thousands.

It's part of the new world order of extreme weather events that scientists warn will be more common if we don't begin to dramatically cut climate-altering carbon pollution now. But there is reason to be optimistic this holiday season that we are finally reaching the tipping point in terms of taking action in the U.S. People re-elected a president who vows to fight climate change and aggressively push the country toward clean energy solutions necessary to cut carbon pollution. Polls show more and more Americans believe climate change is real and that we need to make our environment more sustainable.

So when’s Bill McKibben brought the popular “Do the Math Tour” to Washington this past weekend, it was a perfect time to renew the call to stop the massive Keystone XL pipeline project that would bring a river of dirty tar sands crude to refineries in the Gulf. Scientists have longed warned that super carbon-rich tar sands oil of Canada could have massive impacts on the global weather patterns and sensitive ecosystems.

Watch a short video about the protest with NRDC’s Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

That was the message that McKibben and his tour hammered home. A host of environmental organizations, civil rights activists, student leaders and thousands of supporters took to the streets around the White House once again to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, a massive multimillion-barrel superhighway of carbon-intensive tar sands crude that would cut straight through the nation’s agricultural breadbasket, threatening precious groundwater supplies as it flows to Gulf coast refineries and onto the international market.

Protesters of all stripes, farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and students have fought it from Canada to the Gulf. But it is in many ways just the beginning of the fight, as President Obama ordered a second review of the TransCanada pipeline proposal last year after wide-ranging protests by citizens across the country. Meanwhile, the oil industry is mounting a well-financed offensive, spending millions in Washington to try to get its way, as NRDC’s Danielle Droitsch recently blogged:

The tar sands industry is making a lot of noise right now in a desperate attempt to push for approval of the controversial northern segment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s no surprise Big Oil’s American Petroleum Institute continues to push for approval of the pipeline despite mounting evidence the pipeline is not in the national interest. What is less well known is that some of the biggest recipients of Big Oil’s money in the Senate are weighing in with the same message. Thanks to our friends at Oil Change International we now have a better sense of the influence Big Oil has in Congress to promote tar sands and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Protesters at KXL pipeline rally in Washington Photos: Rocky Kistner/NRDC

The fight against climate change will be long and hard, but we have the technological know-how to create a more sustainable future. All we need is the political will. People have voted for a clean energy future, so now's as good time as ever to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in its tracks. And with the political winds shifting toward our backs, we can continue building more wind turbines as well.

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