'This Is Our Last Chance': Deep-Pocketed Dems Urge Obama to Reject Keystone XL

Published on
by
Common Dreams

'This Is Our Last Chance': Deep-Pocketed Dems Urge Obama to Reject Keystone XL

To avoid 'catastrophic climate disruption,' warn donors, president must take a historic stand

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Image from Keystone XL, climate rally Saturday Feb 16, 2013 (Reuters)

In a letter sent to President Obama on Friday, 150 high profile Democratic donors urged the president "to proclaim with clarity and purpose that our nation will transition away from carbon-based fossil fuels to job-creating clean energy" and take a stand once and for all against the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

"Yours is the last presidency in which it is possible for America to choose a responsible path forward for itself, before climate disruption becomes unmanageably dangerous," the letter, which was first obtained by The Guardian, said.

"As challenging as this may be, the costs pale in comparison to the human consequences of unchecked climate disruption," it continued. "This decision more than any other will signal your direction, your commitment, your resolve. It is the biggest, most explicit statement you will make in this historic moment, the moment when America turns from denial to solutions – or fails to."

Despite a prolonged and dramatic national movement that has risen up to oppose the Keystone XL project, conventional wisdom in Washington supposes that the powerful influence of the oil and pipeline industry is still enough that Obama will likely approve the pipeline. A final decision is expected this summer or early fall.

The letter warns against the long term effects of the pipeline on the world's climate. The unearthing and burning of the toxic tar sands set to be routed via the pipeline, will mean "game over" in the climate battle, many have warned—as it will increase the volume of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to a "point of no return" in terms of its perpetual warming effects.

"As the IEA starkly warned," the letter from Obama's once-loyal supporters notes, "continued investment in capital-intensive, long-lived fossil fuel infrastructure like Keystone XL will 'lock in' emission trajectories that make catastrophic climate disruption inevitable."

As The Guardian reports:

The letter was endorsed by some of Obama's most prominent supporters such as Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems; Rob McKay, the heir to the Taco Bell fortune and chairman of the Democracy Alliance; Blythe Danner, the actor and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing line.

Buell alone donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and groups in the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For most donors on the list, it is the first time they have weighed in so publicly on the Keystone decision.

The letter echos the sentiments of the growing grassroots protest movement, which has included tar sands "blockaders", a student lead fossil fuel divestment campaign, and the largest climate rally in history.

The letter's dominant theme is the urgency of the climate change issue—and that it will be an irreversible mistake if the president chooses poorly: "Yours is the last presidency in which it is possible for America to choose a responsible path forward for itself, before climate disruption becomes unmanageably dangerous."

The letter pledges support to Obama, should he stand up against the nagging influence of the fossil fuel industry: "We pledge to support you in every way possible," the letter said.

"I think the president may feel alone because there is just this drum beat of advertising in favor of Keystone, framed as it is in a jobs context," Betsy Taylor, the political strategist who co-ordinated the letter told the Guardian "But when he denies the Keystone permit he will ignite a rush of financial contributions and boots on the ground for clean energy candidates in 2014."

Read the full letter below:

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

Dear President Obama,

As business leaders, philanthropists, and supporters of your 2008 and 2012 campaigns, we write to urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to do everything in your power to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and to clean energy sources.

We have read of your admiration for President Lincoln, surely the most beloved of all presidents.

He made one of the most important decisions of his presidency and for our nation when he decided that he would fight for the 13th Amendment to end slavery even if it took every ounce of his political capital. Your decision on Keystone may not be so weighty, but we believe it holds a comparable urgency and importance, not strictly as a pipeline decision but as a presidential choice that will signal a fundamentally new direction for our nation.

We urge you to proclaim with clarity and purpose that our nation will transition away from carbon-based fossil fuels to job-creating clean energy. As challenging as this may be, the costs pale in comparison to the human consequences of unchecked climate disruption. We must help impacted communities and industries. We cannot make these changes overnight, but we must make them. Yours is the last presidency in which it is possible for America to choose a responsible path forward for itself, before climate disruption becomes unmanageably dangerous.

"Winning" a safe climate future is a long game, but we can lose it very quickly - on your watch.

As the IEA starkly warned, continued investment in capital-intensive, long-lived fossil fuel infrastructure like Keystone XL will "lock in" emission trajectories that make catastrophic climate disruption inevitable.

The Keystone decision affords you a rare opportunity to pivot away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future in a way that signals the necessary sea change. The controversy associated with the decision is commensurate with its historic significance. Of course, no single decision is technically decisive with respect to climate disruption. But those who dismiss the Keystone decision as "merely symbolic" underestimate both its substantive importance and its place in history and your presidency.

This decision more than any other will signal your direction, your commitment, your resolve. It is the biggest, most explicit statement you will make in this historic moment, the moment when America turns from denial to solutions - or fails to.

Under trying circumstances and against entrenched opposition, you have led America toward a clean energy future by improving fuel efficiency standards, extending clean energy production tax credits, and asserting EPA authority to regulate coal-fired power plants. Your call to action on climate change in your State of the Union and Inaugural addresses inspired us. We thank you for this leadership, and urge you to push now, beyond what official Washington deems possible, toward what we know is necessary.

We pledge to support you in every way possible as you help our nation "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

We believe in the power and promise of clean energy. We believe it's time to look our kids and grandkids - the prospective victims of still-preventable climate disasters - in the eye and say, "We will do what must be done to protect you. We will make this better."

But they won't believe us until we stop making it worse. That's why we urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. With hope and determination to build a healthy future, and the deepest respect for your leadership,

Sincerely,

Wendy Abrams
Chicago, IL

David Blittersdorf
Williston, VT

Geeta B. Aiyer
Boston, MA

Peter Boyer
San Francisco, CA

Kathleen Andreson
Mill Valley, CA

Terry Gamble Boyer
San Francisco, CA

Brian Arbogast
Seattle, WA

Ada Braun
Thousand Oaks, CA

Judith Avery
San Francisco, CA

Susie Tompkins Buell
San Francisco, CA

Holly Badgley
Mill Valley, CA

Bob Burnett
Berkeley, CA

Allan Badiner
Big Sur, CA

Jayni Chase
Bedford, NY

Irene and Jack Banning
Pine Plains, NY

Gay Chiapetta
Oakland, CA

Kathleen C. Barry, PhD
Berkeley, CA

Sally-Christine Rodgers
Watsonville, CA

Anne Bartley
San Francisco, CA

Jeff Clements
Concord, MA

Loren Blackford
New York, NY

Marilyn Clements
Stamford, CT

Bonnie Cockman
Somerville, MA

Geraldine Gold
Los Angeles, CA

Elizabeth Colton
San Francisco, CA

Mitchell Gold
Los Angeles, CA

Julie Corbett
Oakland, CA

Adelaide Gomer
Ithaca, NY

Tony Crabb
Healdsburg, CA

Isabel Grantham
Washington, D.C.

Gemma Daggatt
Seattle, WA

Ken Grossinger
Washington, D.C.

Blythe Danner
New York, NY

Paul and Eileen Growald
Shelburne, VT

Judy Drake
Seattle, WA

Gerald Guez
Beverly Hills, CA

Marion Edey
Silver Spring, MD

Andrew Gunther
Oakland, CA

Randi Fisher
San Francisco, CA

George Hamilton
Montpelier, VT

Jim Fournier
Nicasio, CA

Nick Hanauer
Seattle, WA

Robert and Reba Fournier
Portola Valley, CA

Christine Hanna
Seattle, WA

Robert and Chandra Friese
San Francisco, CA

Amy Harmon
Bolinas, CA

Andrew Gold
Madison, WI

Cyrus Harmon
Bolinas, CA

Barry Gold
Los Angeles, CA

Anna Hawken
San Francisco, CA

Daniel Gold
Ann Arbor, MI

Karen Heath
Wilton, ME

Marshall Herskovitz
Santa Monica, CA

Robert Kennedy Jr.
New York, NY

Anne Hess
New York, NY

Vinod Khosla
Palo Alto, CA

Barbarina and Aaron Heyerdahl
Shelburne, VT

Michael Kieschnick
Palo Alto, CA

Jan and Maurice Holloway
San Francisco, CA

Steve Kirsch
Los Altos Hills, CA

Jeffrey Hollender
Charlotte, VT

Nancy Klehr
Piedmont, CA

Kirk Hulett
San Diego, CA

Martha Kongsgaard
Seattle, WA

Marion Hunt
Big Sur, CA

Anne Kroeker
Seattle, WA

John Hunting
Grand Rapids, MI

Stephen Lane
Oakland, CA

Lisa Irmas
Encino, CA

Barbara Layton
East Hampton, NY

Scott Jacobs
San Francisco, CA

Bokara Legendre
New York, NY

Guyton Jinkerson
Los Altos Hills, CA

Crea and Philip Linthilac
Shelburne, VT

Peter Joseph, MD
San Anselmo, CA

Ruth Lipscomb
Bellevue, WA

Craig Kaplan
New York, NY

Alexandra Loeb
Seattle, WA

Lawrence Keeshan
Berkeley, CA

Stephanie Low
New York, NY

Arthur Keller, PhD
Palo Alto, CA

Elise Lufkin
Seattle, WA

Elizabeth Welch Lykins
Grand Rapids, MI

Nancy Fleck Myers
Evanston, IL

Sid and Sue Madison
Piscataway, NJ

Barry Nelson
Berkeley, CA

Mitch Mandich
Palo Alto, CA

Erin Nelson
Seattle, WA

Gary and Cristina Mauro
Austin, TX

John O'Farrell
Atherton, CA

Rob McKay
San Francisco, CA

Elizabeth O'Hara
Oakland, CA

Robert McKinney
Indianapolis, IN

Michael and Bobbi Orbitz
Chicago, IL

Christine Mednick
Pacific Palisades, CA

Prof. Richard Ottinger
White Plains, NY

Alida Messinger
Minneapolis, MN

Dennis Pence
Sandpoint, ID

Nancy Meyer
New York, NY

JaMel Perkins
San Francisco, CA

Dan Miller
Orinda, CA

Robert Perkowitz
Washington, D.C.

David Miller
Waban, MA

Harry Plant
Palo Alto, CA

Jim Miller
Wellesley, MA

Susan Pritzker
Chicago, IL

Krisann Miller
Wellesley, MA

Mel and Dee Raff
Takoma Park, MD

Maura Burke Morey
Tiburon, CA

Amy Rao
Palo Alto, CA

Lisa Renstrom
Washington, DC

Faye and Sandor Straus
Lafayette, CA

Randy Repass
Watsonville, CA

Susan Swig
San Francisco, CA

Mike Richter
Greenwich, CT

Valerie Tarico
Seattle, WA

Rob Rose
Oakland, CA

Betsy Taylor
Takoma Park, MD

Molly Rose
Castle Rock, CO

Scott and Christy Wallace
Bethesda, MD

Guy Saperstein
Piedmont, CA

Kathy Washienko
Seattle, WA

Marshall Saunders
Coronado, CO

Lucinda Watson
Sausalito, CA

Tedd Saunders
Boston, MA

Jeffrey Weiss
Lincoln, RI

Margaret Schink
Portola Valley, CA

Marc Weiss
New York, NY

Jigar Shah
Washington, DC

Virgil John White
Sacramento, CA

Linda Spencer
Oakland, CA

Martha Wyckoff
Seattle, LA

Margo Kind and John Steiner
Longmont, CO

Steve Ko and Sophia Yen, MD
Los Altos, CA

Nancy Stephens
Los Angeles, CA

Shirley Weese Young
Chicago, IL

Peter Stern
Mill Valley, CA

Nancy Nicolaus Zacher
Bolinas, CA

_______________________

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