Today, thanks to the tens of thousands of activists around the country who have protested the Keystone XL pipeline, the Obama administration delivered a major blow to the oil industry’s efforts to exploit destructive tar sands oil. Facing pressure from environmentalists, landowners, Republicans, Democrats and citizens from every other corner of society, the administration sent back the State Department’s flawed environmental review flawed environmental review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. President Obama recognized that granting a permit for the pipeline would affect the “health and safety of the American people as well as the environment” and directing his State Department to perform a new review that would seriously address the many environmental concerns the pipeline presents – including climate change. If the administration keeps this promise, there is no way this pipeline will be approved, since any project that contributes to further exploitation of tar sands oil would mean increased global warming pollution and an unacceptable threat to our climate.
This decision is a dramatic affirmation of what can be done when activists come together to protect our air, water, and climate. From the 1253 of us who were arrested at President Obama’s doorstep in August, to all those that testified at State Department hearings, the more than 12,000 citizens who surrounded the White House last Sunday, and so many more all around the country who challenged President Obama to stand up for us, not the oil industry – congratulations. There’s much more to be done of course – to make sure the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t revived by industry lobbyists, to challenge the fossil fossil industry and its many other threats to our planet and our health, and to ensure that President Obama keeps his focus on our interests, and not the oil lobbyists’. Let’s take stock of what has been accomplished, and rededicate ourselves to the fights to come.