Target: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
Goal: Make sure the State Department considers the real climate impacts of building the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Recently, the U.S. State Department released a flawed review for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project. Building Keystone XL would open the doors to large-scale extraction of the Canadian tar sands, some of the dirtiest oil in the world. According to NASA scientist James Hansen, burning up the tar sands would mean “game over” for the fight against climate change. Yet the State Department review claims the climate impacts of the pipeline would be insignificant.
The review acknowledges that using tar sands oil, which has an unusually high carbon footprint because of the large amounts of energy required to extract it, would result in millions of tons of new carbon emissions. In fact, it concludes that replacing conventional crude oil with oil from tar sands would mean up to 20 million tons of new annual emissions. However the review chooses to minimize these conclusions, by arguing that there will be new carbon emissions regardless of whether the pipeline is built.
Such an argument is based on the flawed assumption that if Keystone XL isn’t built, oil from the tar sands will reach US markets anyway. Not only is this a defeatist attitude, it’s also faulty reasoning. In fact, tar sands transportation projects in British Columbia and New England have already encountered substantial opposition, making it far from certain that additional tar sands oil will make it to the market in the absence of Keystone XL.
The State Department should evaluate Keystone XL on its own merits, and acknowledge the pipeline as a major new source of carbon emissions. Fortunately, John Kerry, the new Secretary of State, has an opportunity to do just this. Most of the current review was conducted before Kerry took charge of the State Department. By signing this petition, you can urge Secretary Kerry to reject the Keystone XL permit application, and show that he intends to lead on climate change. The petition will be submitted to the State Department as part of a 45-day comment period, which began on March 1st.
Dear Secretary of State John Kerry,
Congratulations on taking the helm of the U.S. State Department. As you know, this department has a special role to play in US efforts to combat climate change, both through influencing international climate negotiations, and by approving or rejecting fossil fuel projects that cross our national boundary. We, the undersigned, urge you to send a message that the State Department is going to be serious about climate change by rejecting one of these trans-boundary fossil projects, the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The State Department’s recently released review of environmental impacts from Keystone XL grants insufficient weight to the importance of carbon emissions from tar sands. Most of this review was conducted before you became Secretary of State, and now you have a chance to correct the error. You can refrain from using the flawed reasoning in the recently completed review, which assumes that carbon emissions from Keystone XL won’t matter because they will come from somewhere else anyway. When Keystone XL is evaluated on its own merits, it becomes clear that carbon emissions from this project are not in the national interest.
While serving in the U.S. Senate, you became known as a champion for action on climate change. In your speeches, you have made the case for action in clear and effective terms. Unfortunately, despite the leadership of a few key members like yourself, Congress remains unlikely to pass climate legislation anytime soon. Fortunately though, you are now in a position where you need not wait for Congress. You can act to reject Keystone XL yourself.
Please, make one of your first and most memorable major acts as Secretary of State be the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline, based on its dangerous climate change implications. If you take this step, we are confident the American people will stand behind you and thank you for your leadership.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Howl Arts Collective via Flickr