Quantcast

Will President Obama Do the Right Thing and Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Climate

Michael Brune

Michael Brune and Bill McKibben (back row, center) where arrested today along with 46 others in a historic act of civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

My previous visit to the White House was definitely more fun—I took my dad to the annual Christmas party. Today, I returned on a chilly D.C. morning to get arrested alongside friends and fellow environmental do-gooders like Bill McKibben, Andre Carothers, Adam Werbach, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sierra Club President Allison Chin. We enviros didn't have to brave the cold alone, though. There were almost 50 of us: activists and actors, authors and ranchers, reverends and farmers, union leaders and scientists—and legendary civil rights leader Julian Bond. The one thing we all shared was a conviction: President Obama must act to protect our climate—and that means saying "no" to the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline.

I'm hopeful. If I weren't, I'd be in the wrong line of work. But the president has come a long way since 2011, when his State of the Union address didn't mention climate even once. Last night, the president stood before Congress to say this:

... if [you] won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Strong words, and I believe the president when he says he will take action on climate, as well as push for clean-energy solutions and greater energy efficiency. What's at issue, though, is not whether President Obama is willing to do something, but whether he's ready to do the right things.

While preparing for today's protest, I read and thought a lot about the great leaders of the past who fought hard and courageously in the name of righteousness. Less than two months before he was felled by an assassin's bullet, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave this answer when asked why he persisted in taking an unpopular stand against the Vietnam War:

Ultimately, a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus. On some positions cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.

We know that enabling the exploitation of Canada's carbon-intensive tar-sands oil would be a huge setback for progress on climate disruption. It could undo all the real progress on carbon-pollution that the president rightly took credit for during his speech last night

A politician might ask whether stopping Keystone XL would be a politic or popular decision. A leader will only care whether it's the right one. My biggest hope? That this president is ready to lead.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL and CLIMATE CHANGE pages for more related news on this topic.

——–

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less