SanDiego350 Applauds President Obama for Keystone XL Veto (Press Release)

Calls on the President to reject the project outright

SAN DIEGO, CA – In San Diego and across the nation today, citizens concerned about climate change applauded as President Barack Obama vetoed legislation that would have forced him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL). SanDiego350 (SD350), an all-volunteer climate action group, called the presidential veto a battle won in the fight against KXL, but noted that it does not stop the pipeline’s construction. The pipeline would cross an international border, so its ultimate approval rests with the President. SD350 is urging the President to take this last crucial step.

Masada Disenhouse, a co-founder of SD350, said, “Yes, of course I’m happy that the President vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.  But I’m more anxious for him to finally reject it once and for all.  If he fails to take this action – that is totally within his power to do – then he fails to be the climate leader that the world so desperately needs right now.”

President Obama has promised to disapprove construction of the KXL if it would make climate change significantly worse. Federal agencies and top scientists agree that it would.  The 800,000 barrels of crude oil to be transported daily through KXL will be extracted from the tar-sands of Alberta, Canada. Oil extracted from tar sands crude causes 17% to 22% more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than does oil produced from conventional crude oil. The destination of this particularly dirty crude is the refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, from where most of it would subsequently be exported.

Another SanDiego350 co-founder Janina Moretti said, “KXL would create only about 35 permanent jobs and it’s only in the short-term interests of TransCanada and not at all in the interests of the average American who is already starting to experience disruptive weather events related to climate change.  Looking at it as a Southern Californian, why risk worsening our already critical drought and wild-fire situation to help out a corporation?”

According to climate scientists, we must keep global warming at or below 2° Celsius (or 3.6° Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts. They estimate that, to stay within that limit, humanity must burn no more than 565 gigatons of carbon by 2050. Globally, it is estimated that five times that amount exists in oil, coal and gas reserves, meaning that 80% of these reserves would thus need to be left in the ground to keep global warming within the range recommended by climate scientists. SD350 argues that the extra emissions associated with tar sands crude oil production make the case for leaving it in the ground even stronger.

Noting this link between KXL and climate change, Peg Mitchell, a grandmother and volunteer with SanDiego350, stated, “If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to my grandkids’ future, I couldn’t live with myself. This country should be focused on a moonshot-type effort to get off all fossil fuels now.”

Opponents of KXL include groups concerned with public health. RN Janice Webb, regional director of the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United, weighed in: “Nurses denounce the Keystone pipeline as a danger to public health.  Keystone’s tar sands oil poses a far greater hazard than conventional oil, and has already caused a spike in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus and hyperthyroidism in Alberta, Canada.  Accidents in oil transport have become all too common and cause disastrous contamination of air and water supplies.  We call on President Obama to stand up for the health of children, the elderly, and all people, and oppose the Keystone Pipeline.”

SanDiego350 and its partners have actively opposed the Keystone pipeline since early 2013, with rallies and “pipeline walks”  in Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Balboa Park, La Jolla, downtown San Diego and even at Comic-Con.  They stand against the endless mining of fossil fuels and for an expedited transition to clean energy. The time is now, they believe, for the President finally to reject KXL outright.

From Comic-Con 2013    
2013 Comic-Con

From Feb 2013 Rally at Mission Bay Photo by Alex Turner
February 2013, Rally at Mission Bay – Photo by Alex Turner

California Nurses Association at downtown KXL vigil, February 2014 by Diane Lesher
February 2014, California Nurses Association at KXL downtown vigil –  Photo by Diane Lesher

Mission Beach. February 2014 - photo by Doug Fowley
February 2014, Mission Beach  – photo by Doug Fowley

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SanDiego350, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. We work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are loosely affiliated with 350.org, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.

President’s La Jolla visit – SD350 rallies against the Keystone pipeline

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

Rally along Torrey Pines Road with 50’ Keystone Pipeline Banner, signs, chants 

By Jeff Meyer

Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Over 100 San Diegans gathered along Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla to call on President Obama, who was in the neighborhood for a fundraiser, to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The “KXL”, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export, has been called “game over” for the climate by the nation’s foremost climatologist, Dr. James Hansen.

Participants held large signs, including a 50-foot cardboard depiction of the Keystone Pipeline with the words “Stop the Keystone Pipeline. Fight climate change” in huge letters on it, and a large banner with a quote from the President that participants want to see him keep: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

SanDiego350’s Emily Wier said that the KXL will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen the impacts of climate change – including significant sea level rise, more extreme and frequent storms and wildfires, water shortages, and increases in heat and infectious disease-related health problems – while creating only a few dozen on-going jobs. “Fully exploiting the tar sands will make the most serious effects of global warming inevitable. We need the President to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, say he’ll veto a pro-pipeline bill in the Senate, and start demonstrating national and global leadership on climate change.”

Phil Petrie, a local artist in North Park, said that the country’s lack of response to devastating climate change is a moral issue. “We have a responsibility to the planet and to future generations to hold our government accountable to take immediate action on climate change. We are here now to make it known to President Obama that we, the people, say: The time is now! Reject this pipeline!”

Eleven-year old Siena also spoke movingly, saying, “Let me tell you what we kids really need.  We don’t need oil. We need clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, and clean oceans to swim in.”

SanDiego350’s Michael Brackney led the demonstrators in rousing chants, including, “Climate change is here to stay, fossil fuels are not the way,” and “Tell Obama now’s the time, to stop the Keystone Pipeline!”

Bob Braaton said “When this fight started all bets were on the fossil fuel industry – everyone thought the pipeline would go through – but now it’s looking more likely that the pipeline could be rejected. That’s because of us in San Diego, and people just like us all around the country, who have stood up to say ‘enough!’”

Peg Mitchell of San Marcos said “I’m here today for my six grandchildren. If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to their future, I couldn’t live with myself.”

Great comment to the State Department on Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

The damage caused to our atmosphere and our oceans by carbon dioxide that has been released by burning fossil fuels is abundantly clear. The consequences are increasing year by year – acidified oceans harming coral reefs and diatoms (the basis of the oceanic food chain); huge changes in atmospheric patterns that are producing storms and different rainfall and temperature regimes than have been in place for at least 500 years, altering agriculture, silviculture, and the survival of entire ecosystems that are responsible for our hydrological systems. Without reductions in our CO2 output, science has predicted to a high probability that the extreme changes may come to reflect conditions not witnessed in 100,000 years or longer, if we don’t alter our production of CO2.

Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to stop their use. They are also extraordinary resources, and burning them to power cars, trains, and trucks is absurd in an era when other ways to power these ground transportation devices are available. We will really regret the lack of fossil fuels for those situations for which they are uniquely appropriate if we burn them all up just to roll people from place to place.

Some say that Keystone XL helps the US achieve energy self-sufficiency. Energy self-sufficiency in the US isn’t gained by the US refineries buying Canadian crude from tar sands. This simply guarantees the Canadian companies will make a lot of money. It is good that the US is seeking to be self-sufficient in our energy requirements. However, our national priorities for energy self-sufficiency have been co-opted by the current energy corporate hegemony, to encourage the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

If we prohibit the use of Keystone XL pipelines for transporting tar sand oil, this will slow down its production. British Columbians are barring pipelines to the Pacific Ocean. People in the NE US are coming together to prohibit transport across their states to the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of us need to prohibit transport across the middle of the US to the Gulf of Mexico via Keystone XL.

If we also follow up with mandatory reductions on shipping by rail or truck this would further constrain the Canadian excavation and shipment of tar sands oil.

If, as claimed by a number of critics of Keystone XL pipeline, the refined products are going to be sold to overseas markets, this makes a travesty of the idea that Keystone XL is helping the US be energy self-sufficient. It simply means that the refineries will make money regardless of the long-term needs for fossil fuels in the US for appropriate purposes.

If fossil fuels could be used without releasing CO2 that would be great. Where is the research for that? In the meantime, the only way to reduce CO2 releases is by conservation and by replacing fossil fuels used for generating electricity with solar, wind, tide, heat-pumps, and other already proven technologies that are improving efficiency every year. These, and other as-yet-unknown technologies that might become useful if they are proven to be benign in their impact to the environment (unlike nuclear power which is a very dangerous form of energy production) are the means to energy self-sufficiency and global climate protection. Ground transportation can also be converted to greatly more efficient use of fossil fuels – hybrid vehicles work great!

Our priorities must be switched to solar and wind generated electricity, conservation measures for fuel for heating and transportation, and anything else that we can do to reduce use of fossil fuels. The stakes are immense.

Thanks for considering my point of view and facts in your decisionmaking.

I beg of you, DO NOT AUTHORIZE THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

Kay Stewart

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About the commenter: Kay Stewart is a volunteer with SD350.org and landscape architect with a special feel for melding plants and construction to create serene or playful outdoor places for her clients. She lives with her husband and her tabby cat.

Submit your own comment at the State Dept Website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOS-2014-0003-0001 by March 7, 2014. You can also submit comments via 350.org.
Creative Commons License This text by Kay Stewart is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.