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.

Pipeline Visions

The Keystone pipeline project will save America.  It will be a testament to our values of entrepreneurial virtue and economic prosperity … or so one hears from its proponents.  But the double mirror of history, while it allows us to look back in chagrin at our follies, also urges us – for the future’s sake – to look forward.  A paradox, to be sure, but then paradoxes speak to our sense that something needs to be carefully examined.

The pipeline is expected to seed the jobs that will lead us out of this post-recessionary period of (steadily receding) high unemployment.  Building it will, of course, employ a team of engineers whose advice will be heeded … up to a point – that point being where the construction cost over-runs become unsettling to an oil company’s governing board.   Technical decisions will leak into the board room with disastrous consequences because the pertinent analysis will no longer be about design, route and materials, but about cost vs. risk.

The workers – draftsmen, construction workers, and their suppliers, along with entrepreneurs who see an opportunity and spring into action to support all this activity in various ingenious ways – will create a temporary economic flurry.  Once the construction effort has subsided, though, maintenance crews of a far smaller number will find employment.  These are the ones who will see first-hand the consequences of the board room over-riding the engineering team.

And so the monstrous hollow snake will be built to stream oil from the ravaged Canadian landscape to the Gulf where it will be transported to its final destinations: ports of the world whose economies are even hungrier for carbon-based fuel than the US believes itself to be, as witnessed by their willingness to pay more for the product than we think we should have to pay.  Unfortunately, this oil won’t do much to lower the price of gas at the pump, not here anyway, unless one still believes in the trickle-down unicorn.

The short-cuts taken during construction, to speed completion and prevent further cost over-runs, will cause alarm in the board chairman’s office, not for the long-term damage of spilled crude to arable land and the aquifers that feed them, but for the difficulty in hiding it from the public in a land of media freedom.  Stock-holders will be furious.  Congressional hearings will ensue with much drama and righteous indignation.  Where were the regulators?  It will all be as redundant as the absurd expression “déjà-vu all over again.”

Such a predictable narrative: the rush to profit, the fulfillment of greed, the promise of broad-based benefit, and the chagrin of the faithful who trumpeted the power of new-found oil to bring down the price of gas at the pump and sold that line to a gullible public.  And this scenario doesn’t even address larger issues of the increasingly devastating effects of extracting, transporting and burning all that fossil fuel.

Of course, there is an alternate vision: one of an informed public that refuses to buy that line because it has looked into history’s double mirror and seen … the re-run.

 

 

San Diegans Join Nationwide Protest Against Keystone XL

By Jeffrey Meyer

Mayor Bob Filner and over 500 San Diego protestors in Mission Bay Park joined similar rallies in cities across America Sunday in protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, beginning a massive effort to demand President Obama block it and call for leaders at all levels to take action to fight global warming. (Watch coverage on 6 TV stations)

Speaking at the San Diego rally, Mayor Bob Filner expressed his concerns about Keystone, climate change and what he wants to do in San Diego.

Mayor Bob Filner (photo by Diane Lesher)

“If we’re going to save our beaches in San Diego, we need to take our heads out of the sand, especially the tar sands,” he said, imploring the Mission Bay crowd to push President Obama to deny permits for the Canadian pipeline that is part of a massive proposed tar sand mining and pipeline project intended to deliver bitumen slurry to Texas coastal refineries.

Mayor Filner explained that every level of government has to take some responsibility for dealing with global warming and that San Diego can be a national leader in the use of alternative energy sources.

Link to more photos and video

“I want to have solar power in all San Diego public buildings within the next five years,” he said.  “San Diego can lead the nation in the use of alternative energy and moving away from fossil fuels.”

Part of a nationwide protest, with the major rally drawing an estimated 35,000 people today in Washington D.C.,  numerous San Diego groups participated in the rally, cheering numerous speakers,  waving banners and hoisting protest signs.  Major organizers locally were  sandiego350.org, Citizens Climate Lobby, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Health Coalition and Greenpeace.

Also, speaking at the rally, Dr. Jeffrey Severinghaus, director for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere Program, said there is an abundance of misinformation about climate on the public airwaves making real climate science more needed than ever.  About 98 percent of climate scientists and researchers around the world agree with Severinghaus that humans, and not nature, are the source for the additional CO2 that is causing global warming.

“There is no such thing as Republican physics or Democratic physics.  Physics is physics.  Accurate science is desperately needed, now more than ever, and that is why I’m speaking up   We need to draw a line in the sand on the use of tar sands,” he said.  “Those who will suffer the most are not yet born.  We need to act now and speak for them.”

Banner on the I-5 overpass (photo by Alex Turner)

He noted San Diegans should show support for a new bill bill to curb carbon pollution introduced this week by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).  “You need to let Boxer know you have her back,” he said about the new bill which has an estimated tax potential of more than a trillion dollars and would be invested in sustainable energy programs, with a large portion returned to taxpayers.

Former State Assemblywoman and present Chair of the Executive Committee of Sierra Club, San Diego chapter, Lori Saldana, also spoke at the rally, offering her perspectives on Keystone and climate change. “We’re here today as part of a nationwide call for President Obama to step up to the plate and stop the Keystone Pipeline once and for all – and to begin implementing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something that California pioneered,”  she said.

Another speaker, Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, minister of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Vista, who has been involved in the environmental movement  for over 20 years,  said “Everything is connected and everything is at stake.”

Elizabeth Perez-Halperin, a Native American, military veteran and green business owner, said “My Native American roots and military experience have influenced me to become an environmentalist and conservationist. The threat of not protecting our environment is a national security issue.”

High-schooler, Tierra Gonzalez-Hammonds (daughter of Lorena Gonzalez, labor leader and candidate for the 80th Assembly District), also spoke, addressing her concerns about her generation’s future in a heated world.

Franco Garcia, of the Environmental Health Coalition, talked about the impacts of climate change on some of the people hardest hit locally. Simon Mayeski, a member of SanDiego350.org, said “It is of utmost importance that President Obama ‘see the light’, show us the leadership we need and reject the XL Pipeline. We need long-term clean energy relief, not a short-term CO2-laden fix.”

Scientists expect the sea level to rise at least three feet by 2100 due to global warming caused by CO2 generated by our use of fossil fuels.  This means that much of Mission Bay and the San Diego area will be covered in several inches of sea water at high tide, and we will have enormous areas subject to flooding during storms.  Sandy beaches up and down the coast could be washed away, destroying property values, wildlife habitat and tourism.  Key climatologists believe the exploitation of tar sands and our relentless release of CO2 will tip our planet’s temperature into a catastrophic nightmare, and unless action is taken now, they say the damage will be irreversible.

Rally banners (photo by Dennis Griffin)