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Top Climate Scientists Urge Clinton to Fully Consider Keystone XL's Impact on Climate Change
Ten of the nation’s top climate scientists released a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today, urging the State Department to conduct a serious review of the climate change impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“At the moment, your department is planning to consider the effects of the pipeline on ‘recreation,’ ‘visual resources,’ and ‘noise,’ among other factors,” wrote the scientists. “Those are important—but omitting climate change from the considerations is neither wise nor credible.”
The State Department is currently accepting comments on the scoping evaluation that will determine what environmental considerations will be included in the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The department’s previous pipeline environmental impact statement downplayed climate risks by arguing that the tar sands would be developed with or without Keystone XL and therefore the project had no responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning tar sands oil.
"Keystone became the biggest environmental cause of Obama's first term—and the reason most of those who marched and went to jail gave for their concern was the climate impact of those vast tar sands," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "It would be ironic in the extreme if the State Department didn't take the issue seriously in its review."
A coalition of environmental groups including 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, CREDO, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club are collecting hundreds of thousands of comments on the SEIS scoping evaluation that will be delivered to the State Department before the July 30 comment deadline.
The full text of the letter follows:
July 17, 2012
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We are writing to ask that the State Department conduct, as part of its evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, a serious review of the effect of helping open Canada’s tar sands on the planet’s climate.
At the moment, your department is planning to consider the effects of the pipeline on “recreation,” “visual resources,” and “noise,” among other factors. Those are important—but omitting climate change from the considerations is neither wise nor credible. The vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand; understanding the role this largescale new pipeline will play in that process is clearly crucial.
We were pleased that President Obama saw fit to review this project more carefully; it would be a shame if that review did not manage to comprehensively cover the most important questions at issue.
Associate Professor, School of Engineering
University of St. Thomas
Department of Global Ecology
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Michael E. Mann
Professor of Meteorology
Director, Earth System Science Center
The Pennsylvania State University
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
George M. Woodwell
Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Research Center
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.