*** Updated at 1:00 pm ET: We're now at 777,000 signatures and going even higher. Stay up to date at 350.org/kxl ***
This has been an amazing 24 hours, the third in a trio of events that took Keystone XL from an obscure pipeline project to the country's central environmental issue.
The first was in August, when the largest civil disobedience action in 30 years saw 1,253 people arrested outside the White House. Next, in November, over 12,000 surrounded the president's house five deep, leading the president to slow down the permitting process
And now we're wrapping up a day when we turned from bodies on the line to keystrokes online -- the most concentrated blitz of environmental organizing since the start of the digital age.
With rumors that Senate Democrats were starting to go mushy instead of backing their president, the leaders of every major environmental group in the country made a quick call over the weekend -- they'd combine forces for a full-on day of pushing their members into action. We set a target of 500,000 messages to the Senate, knowing it was a high bar but also knowing that we had to convince the leadership there that this had become a litmus test for environmentalists, the one issue that even moderately-informed environmental voters knew about this election cycle.
It turned out we were wrong. Half a million was not a high bar at all -- people across the country were so enthusiastic that we blew past that mark 6 hours and 54 minutes into the day. The 500,000th signature, appropriately, was from a Nebraskan, pointing out that the only independent study of the pipeline that would bisect her state showed it would yield a paltry 1400 temporary jobs, not the bonanza big oil keeps promising.
Messages keep flooding in -- I half wish we were still in the good old days of telegrams, because this would look like a Jimmy Stewart movie, with Western Union boys hauling bales of paper into Senate offices. Good environmentalists, we'll deliver dozens of jump drives to the Senate leadership later today.
But those jump drives and the bumper crop of messages they contain harken back to a different day in U.S. environmental history, that decade after the first Earth Day when most of the environmental laws that cleaned up our air and water were passed -- the day when environmentalists had real clout in DC. We're not there yet -- big oil outspends us by orders of magnitude, and the new campaign finance rules magnify its power. And of course climate change is a tougher challenge than smog.
Still, we've re-learned some lessons in the last 24 hours. Unity matters -- how wonderful to see the leaders of every environmental group on the same page, and progressive communities like MoveOn.org Political Action and CREDO Mobile joining in to help. And more important, a big swath of the American people remain deeply committed to a world that works. Right now Keystone is the battle that defines that hope -- we'll do our best to see that our "leaders" don't quash it.