Earth Day 2014 – Mr. President, Go Green

For Earth Day this year, I decided to write to President Obama about the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. My timing couldn’t have been better.

350.org Parades Giant Pipeline Around the Capitol Before State of Union Photo: Steven Tuttle

Last Friday, I took a break from drafting my letter to the President to check online for the latest Keystone XL Pipeline news. The U.S. Department of State had just issued a press release stating the Keystone XL Pipeline Project review period was being extended due to a decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court that may result in a route change through Nebraska.

Reading the press release about the Department of State’s Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (I didn’t even know there was one) enticed me to read the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project Executive Summary dated January 2014.

I discovered how little I actually knew about the Keystone XL Pipeline Project which I’ve opposed for the last couple of years. One document led to the next and so on until I realized I needed to finish my letter and save the Keystone XL Pipeline Project for another post. I did use some of my new found knowledge in my letter to the President. The text is pasted below.

April 22, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Dear President Obama,

On this 44th Earth Day, I want to thank you for your efforts to move the United States towards clean renewable energy and a brighter future for children everywhere.

But it’s not enough. We all need to do more—a lot more.

I was pleased to see last Friday’s Department of State announcement extending the Keystone XL Pipeline Project review period again, but the project should just be stopped once and for all.

Destroying Alberta’s boreal forest and transporting 830,000 barrels of tar sands crude oil across the heartland of the United States every day might be in the short-term interest of the petroleum industry, but it is not in the national interest of American or Canadian citizens.

The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project shows it will cause large scale environmental degradation and is fraught with risks to people and wildlife. It is not a job creator and is not economically sound.

-Once the Keystone XL Pipeline is built, just operating it will emit 1.44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year, the same as putting another 300,000 cars on the road.

-Producing, refining, and burning a barrel of tar sands crude oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin emits 17% more greenhouse gases than the average barrel of crude oil refined in the U.S.

-The 42,100 jobs the project expects to support temporarily during construction are not necessarily new jobs. Some or all of the people may already be employed by the companies that would perform the work and it is not unreasonable to suppose that some or all would find other projects to work on if the Keystone XL Pipeline Project does not happen.

-The project will only create 50 post-construction long-term U.S. jobs (35 permanent, 15 temporary).

-The projected $3.4 billion the project would contribute to the U.S. economy is more than offset by spending on mitigating and dealing with climate change which in part is caused by burning fossil fuels. For example, according to The President’s Budget Fiscal Year 2015, $4.4 billion in taxpayer money is earmarked for just for the “Reducing Carbon Pollution and Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change” section. That puts us in the hole by $1 billion, just for one year.

For whatever reason, the media, environmental NGOs, and the general public have latched onto the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and made it a prominent issue as well as a political hot potato. This provides you with an ideal opportunity to take a stand and kill the project. Such an action is sure to garner worldwide attention and put global leaders on notice that you intend to lead the fight against climate change.

Mr. President what you do or do not do to address climate change during your presidency will become your legacy. That is what will be remembered by your children and mine. I promise to do my part.

Sincerely,

Linda, the Unlikely Environmentalist at www.greengroundswell.com

I’ll post the response if I get one.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

One thought on “Earth Day 2014 – Mr. President, Go Green”

  1. Wow, I could fly back and forth from home to Houston a million times (literally) for the same carbon footprint as just operating that thing for a year! That’s huge!
    Round-trip flight = 1.4 metric tons of CO2
    Round-trip train = .04 metric tons of CO2
    I’m trying to do my part… but that is a “million me’s”!

    BTW to put that in perspective the entire carbon footprint of a typical American household per year is 48 tons:
    http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/footprint
    That’s 30,000 households, or 126,000 people ; As if being an American isn’t bad enough, but to give 50 people jobs in exchange for 126,000 people’s worth of damage just doesn’t make sense!
    None of that even includes the damage to the Boreal forest, which has been described as “The lungs of North America”. The winter/summer cycle of that forest accounts for much of the annual swing in the whole world’s CO2 levels.

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