Dec 7, 2011

What Happens Next is Up to Us

In the spirit of useful social networking...just want to pass along this letter from Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and author who grew up in Lexington, MA.  As Bill says, we've created a new earth, what happens next is up to us. 
P.S. Thanks to EnergySage for their good work, ingenuity and presenting their thinking to the Forum today.

Urgent: Big oil is fighting back
Dear Gang,

Well, our temporary delay of the Keystone Pipeline may be even more temporary than we’d hoped.

In the last few days a team of industry-funded Senators and Congressmen have introduced bills designed to force almost immediate approval of Keystone XL. Hence this long letter—please take the time to read it with care.

Several bills have been introduced. The most dangerous would force the president to give a permit within months, long before anyone could credibly conduct the promised review of climate impacts. We won the first round in public, and so Big Oil is using the money-filled back rooms of DC to try to win round two.

So I fear we have to ask yet more of you. The key to stopping these bills will be in the Senate. A few of you live in key states - including Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia—where your Senator could have a big say on these bills. These proposals are attached to the President's tax cut legislation which will get an up-or-down vote in less than two weeks, so we need to act fast to get them to stand up to big oil and stop this backroom deal.

We may need to respond very quickly to show that grassroots opposition to Keystone is real -- and that Congress can't be doing Big Oil's bidding. Can you be a part of an action at your Senator's office in the coming days?

Yes, I'd like to be involved.

Yes, and I would like to help organize an action.

When we had our nationwide brainstorm last week, many of you made it clear that fighting the power of the fossil fuel industry should be a key to our future work, and I think this episode proves you right. Consider, for instance, the US Chamber of Commerce. They were the biggest donors in the last election cycle, and 94% of their money went to climate-deniers. Now they’re cashing in their investment, demanding that their stable of elected officials push Keystone though.

It's not just the Chamber of course - the Koch Brothers, who own a big tar sands refinery, are in on this, and their Americans for Prosperity front group is out working hard for Keystone.

We need to make sure our representatives know that we expect them to stand up to corporate power - and that we will take this fight public whenever necessary to see that they do so.

Big Oil is trying to make it seem as if they’re defending jobs with their pipeline. They’ve enlisted a handful of the building trades unions to work with them. We don’t begrudge these workers, facing high levels of unemployment, their stand, and we look forward to working with them on other issues in the future.

But it’s important to get across the basics: the only study not funded by TransCanada shows the pipeline will cost as many jobs as it creates, and the fanciful estimates of oil executives for job creation from the project have been fully exposed as nonsense. That’s why an array of unions are opposing the project, ranging from the Amalgamated Transit Workers and Transit Workers United, who note that it will  help delay the job-rich transition to clean energy, to the Domestic Workers union, who point out that many of their members come from countries already struck harsh blows by global warming.

The Keystone Pipeline is, of course, just one battle in a huge fight.
Even without it, the International Energy Agency said last month that the planet set a new record for pouring carbon into the atmosphere; we’re seeing horrifying flood and drought across the globe. If we’re ever going to slow that down, we’re going to need to break the arrogant power of the fossil fuel industry. Now’s a good time to start, even if we all have other things to do in December. 

Let’s do what we can to make it a happy holiday for the planet, and for those on it who live closest to the edge!

--Bill McKibben for tarsandsaction and

p.s.— The strategy session debrief is still on for tonight. We'll be discussing our plans to stop the bills, as well as debriefing what everyone talked about.  Here are the details:

What: Climate Movement Strategy Sessions Debrief Call
When: Monday December 5th, 9 PM Eastern Time
To join: Call (712) 432-1001, and enter the access code 485501597#
You can chat about the call with other folks here:

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