ACTION: Keep the Pressure on Your Senators to Reject Keystone XL
By Duncan Meisel
On Feb. 27 we saw another twist in the twisted Keystone XL tar sands pipeline saga—TransCanada announced they’re going to build the southern leg of the pipeline, from Cushing, Okla., through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico.
This is bad news, particularly for our allies along the route, some of whose land is being taken by eminent domain—a fight that is breeding some unusual alliances between environmentalists and the Tea Party. We’ll do all we can to help them with the fight, which will play out mostly in Texas itself. It’s obviously tough political terrain, but if you met the folks who caravanned out to Washington last summer, you know that Texans are tough people.
Meanwhile, TransCanada also announced that, as expected, they will re-apply for a presidential permit allowing them to build the pipe across the U.S.-Canadian border. This is the leg that would bring new tar sands oil into the country—the same permit that President Obama denied last month.
There’s no way to stop them from doing this—anyone can apply for a permit. But as we now know, there are plenty of ways to fight it. We’ll be keeping an eagle eye on the process, making sure that the White House keeps its promises to vet not only the route across sensitive aquifers, but also the climate impacts of opening up tar sands oil. If they actually carry out a real review, we think the permit will be denied—but we've also seen how easy it is for big oil's money to compromise the process.
And that big money, of course, continues to operate in the Congress, where some senators still want to revive the border crossing without a Presidential review. We sent them 800,000 messages the week before last, and a vote is delayed for at least a few weeks. These guys are slow learners, so more phone calls and emails wouldn’t hurt.
Here's what I said when I called this morning:
“Tar sands oil is a scam—it’s foreign crude destined for foreign markets. We get the spills, and we get the global warming, and the oil industry gets the profits. (Also, we know that you get campaign donations as well, but that’s not an excuse to endanger the planet.)”
Click here for your Senators' contact information and to report your call.
As Bill McKibben wrote over the weekend, Keystone is one battle among many, and we’ll keep calling on you for more support on other issues too. But this is an important, iconic fight—big oil knows that, which is why they are pushing so hard. And you know it, which is why so far, for once, they haven’t gotten their way.
Also, click here to tell President Obama not to expedite approval of the southern leg of Keystone XL.
For more information, click here.
By Jacob Wallace
This story is published as part of StudentNation's "Vision 2020: Election Stories From the Next Generation" reports from young journalists that center the concerns of diverse young voters. In this project, working with Dr. Sherri Williams, we recruited young journalists from different backgrounds to develop story ideas and reporting about their peers' concerns ahead of the most important election of our lives. We'll continue publishing two stories each week over the course of September.
In the speech she gave at the People's Climate March in Washington in 2017, Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, then 15, told a crowd of thousands, "This [climate change] is not just an environmental issue. This is a race issue, this is an immigration issue, this is a feminist issue."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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