800,000 Americans Tell Senate: Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

800,000 Americans Tell Senate: Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON, DC, February 14, 2012 (ENS) – Over the last 24 hours, environmental and progressive groups flooded the Senate with more than 800,000 messages opposing TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The 1,700-mile-long proposed pipeline would carry heavy bitumen oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The surge in activism came as Senate Republicans tried to add an amendment giving Congress authority to approve the pipeline to a bill intended to reauthorize transportation funding for the next six years.

Because the pipeline would cross an international border, a Presidential Permit is required stating that the project is in the national interest.

The Senate’s amendment to the transportation bill would reverse President Barack Obama’s January 18 decision to block the controversial project because it is not in the national interest.

In December, Congress passed and the President signed a bill to extend the payroll tax cut. Attached was an amendment requiring Obama to decide whether or not to approve the pipeline within 60 days. Saying more time was needed for a new route through Nebraska to be determined, Obama met the 60 day deadline by rejecting the pipeline.

More than 800,000 messages urging rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline are delivered to the U.S. Senate, February 14, 2012 (Photo by 350.org)

Today, representatives from the coalition delivered the 800,000 messages directly to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

The petition drive was organized by a group of over 30 organizations and businesses with the goal of sending the Senate half a million messages in under 24 hours.

The online drive quickly went viral, powered in part by blogs and online advertising, tweets from celebrities, including the founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, and attention from Stephen Colbert, who interviewed 350.org founder and petition organizer Bill McKibben on his Comedy Central TV show Monday night.

The online push inspired offline action as well, organizers said.

In Kentucky, over 2,000 people gathered at a rally opposing mountaintop removal mining picked up their cell phones and called Senator McConnell, urging him to stop pushing the pipeline.

In New York City, dozens of people visited Senator Charles Schumer’s office and got him on the record opposing the pipeline.

Petition deliveries also took place in Ohio, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Fifteen of the nation’s top climate scientists also added their names to the effort by sending a personal letter to the Senate and the House of Representatives, urging the leadership of both parties to abandon the tar sands pipeline because of its potential damaging impact on the environment and climate.

“We are researchers at work on the science of climate change and allied fields,” the scientists wrote. “Last summer, we called on President Obama to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s tar sands. We were gratified to see that he did so, and since some in Congress are seeking to revive this plan, we wanted to restate the case against it.”

“The tar sands are a huge pool of carbon, one that it does not make sense to exploit. It takes a lot of energy and water to extract and refine this resource into useable fuel, and the mining is environmentally destructive,” the scientists explained. “Adding this on top of conventional fossil fuels will leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control. It makes no sense to build a pipeline that would dramatically increase exploitation of this resource.”

“When other huge oil fields or coal mines were opened in the past, we knew much less about the damage that the carbon they contained would do to the earth’s climate and its oceans. Now that we do know,” the scientists urged, “it’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy – and that we leave the tar sands in the ground.”

“We can say categorically that this pipeline is not in the nation’s, or the planet’s best interest,” wrote the group, which includes Dr. James Hansen of NASA, Dr. Michael Mann at Penn State, and Dr. Ralph Keeling at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Many of the groups involved in the effort to collect signatures are pledging to keep up the fight against Keystone XL as long as Republicans continue to try and bring measures designed to resurrect the project.

CREDO Mobile phone company President Michael Kieschnick said, “The Senate should consider this one day of action as a warning. The American people are watching very closely whether the Senate represents Big Oil or the public health. If the Keystone XL pipeline is forced through, we will do much, much more until it is permanently blocked.”

Participating groups included: 350.org, Alliance for Climate Education, Avaaz, BOLD Nebraska, Brighter Planet, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Reality Project, Climate Solutions, CREDO, Democracy for America, Environmental Action, Energy Action Coalition, Environmental Defense, Frack Action/Water Defense, Friends of the Earth, FUSE, Global Exchange, Green America, Green for All, Indigenous Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters, Labor Network for Sustainability, MoveOn.org Political Action, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, Other 98%, Public Citizen, Patagonia, The North Face, Rainforest Action Network, Rebuild the Dream, Sierra Club, Solar Mosaic, Sojourners, Sungevity, Tar Sands Campaign, US Climate Action Network and Vote Solar.

Many of the groups involved in the effort to collect signatures are pledging to keep up the fight against Keystone XL as long as Republicans continue to try and bring measures designed to resurrect the project.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.

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