Stay Cool, Mr. President: a Millennial Cri de Coeur

Dear Mr. President,

As we mark the ten-year anniversary of the most influential event in our short lifetimes, we write to you on behalf of the Millennial generation and urge you to chart a new course for the future of energy in our great nation. The events of September 11, 2001, have been seared into our collective memory and have defined who we are as a generation. We approach this anniversary with perplexed sadness, but continue to entertain a faint glimmer of hope you sparked inside of us that the world can be a better place.

Ten years ago we had the opportunity to take a deep and profound loss and turn it in to an opportunity to make the world more empathetic, more tolerant and above all, more secure. The past few years have been checkered by significant setbacks, but now you have the chance to set things right again.

You have the opportunity and power, without the approval of Congress, to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Saying "no" to the pipeline is saying "no" to fossil fuels pollution, "no" to runaway greenhouse gas emissions, and "no" to climate change. In the same breath, you say "yes" to green jobs, "yes" to a new energy economy, and "yes" to a cleaner, brighter, safer future.

Keystone XL would accelerate the exploration of environmentally dangerous tar sands by constructing a 2,000 mile pipeline from Canada to Mexico, cutting across the United States. This will require the destruction of Canada's boreal forest (a carbon sink), it will threaten the Athabascan people, contaminate the Athabasca River, and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Approving Keystone XL would be, in the words of NASA scientist James Hansen, "game over for the climate."

On the same day the pipeline was approved by the State Department, Hurricane Irene raged across the eastern seaboard, becoming one of the 10 costliest storms ever to hit the US. In the past year alone we have seen more weather-related disasters than any other year in US history. Our generation may have been shaped by September 11th, but now we're branded by a new terrorist threat -- one which strikes blindly, violently and with complete oblivion: our own planet's changing climate. More people died worldwide in 2010 from natural disasters than have been killed from terrorist attacks over the past four decades.This threat is real and it is happening now.

When you accepted our nomination for president, you gave us your word that your presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." And we believed you. We were hungry for change and with great tenacity we knocked on doors till our knuckles bled, made phone calls until we were blue in the face and didn't sleep for months because we believed you were our first, last, and only hope for the future.

We know there have been many demands made of you by people much more powerful than us, people with deeper pockets and more political influence. But the generation that elected you would like to remind you that the Obama we campaigned for-- Barack Obama, the king of cool and our number one rock star -- would never let politics take precedence over what is right. That Obama supported a transition to new, clean, safe forms of energy, and he condemned our addiction to fossil fuels. The Obama we worked so hard for would make a brave, courageous decision even if it was not the most popular. At the end of the day that Barack Obama would still have his integrity and our respect, and he would be a leader worth fighting for, yet again.

We have not asked for much since we voted you into office, but now we are asking you to prove to us that the last decade of oil spills, climate disasters and mindless wars have not been in vain. Three years ago we arrived here together and now, in a time of remembrance, we reflect on lost opportunities to reverse the trend towards environmental calamity. We are united in our love for this great nation, and we still long for the leadership that was so passionately demonstrated by our favorite candidate yesterday and our president today. Be brave. Be the Obama we voted for.