Time for President Obama to Choose Sides on Keystone XL

FILE - In this March 22, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama arrives at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing,
FILE - In this March 22, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama arrives at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla. His re-election safely behind him, President Obama is facing mounting pressure to settle a decision that has been trailing him for years: whether to approve the $7 billion proposed Keystone XL pipeline between the U.S. and Canada. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The two sides in the fight over the Keystone XL were put in sharp relief this morning in Washington, D.C.

Over at the headquarters of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest front-group for the fossil fuel industry, PR flacks were scrambling to pull together a conference call with reporters to trot out more misinformation about the pipeline.

Meanwhile, over at the White House, 48 environmental, civil rights, and community leaders from across the country joined together for a historic display of civil disobedience to push President Obama to deny the Keystone XL and address the climate crisis.

Now, it's time for President Obama to choose which side he's on. He can side with the fossil fuel industry and people like API President Jack Gerard, who was a top Mitt Romney supporter, and the Koch Brothers, who would reap huge benefits from Keystone XL. Or, he can stand with the coalition of environmentalists, ranchers, farmers, young people, labor unions, and civil rights groups who have come together to oppose Keystone XL.


That coalition, and the people arrested at this morning's demonstration, are the same people who helped elect President Obama and can now help push forward his agenda.

It includes business leaders like Danny Kennedy, the CEO of Sungevity, a solar company in California that is pioneering new ways of massively scaling up solar installations (and creating lots of new jobs in the process); civil rights heroes, like Julian Bond, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as the president of the NAACP; ranchers like Randy Thompson, who has been leading the fight against Keystone XL in Nebraska and came all the way to D.C. today to get arrested at the White House; and student activists, like Jacklyn Gil, the daughter of two Colombian immigrants who is now leading a fossil fuel divestment campaign at Brandeis University and joined the protest this morning.

Danny Kennedy and Jacklyn Gil sit together at Wednesday, Feb 13's White House sit-in

Yes, the fossil fuel industry has most of the money. But we've got the people. This Sunday, tens of thousands are expected to attend the "Forward on Climate" rally here in Washington, D.C. to push the president to live up to his climate rhetoric. Volunteers have organized over 100 buses to bring people from all across the country. Hundreds of students, many of them also working on this growing fossil fuel divestment campaign, are coming into town.

President Obama should be familiar with the feeling of energy and momentum in the climate movement right now: it's the same grassroots spirit that powered him to the White House in the first place.

Keystone XL isn't just a test of whether Obama can live up to his own rhetoric, it's a test of whether he can live up to the movement that helped elect him. This is a time for him to dig deep, summon up some courage, stand up to Big Oil, and finally reject this dirty pipeline once and for all. We'll be there by the thousands pushing him forward.