By Tom Steyer
This past Friday, we received the welcome news from the State Department that the review period for the Keystone XL pipeline would be extended – a decision that offers both an opportunity and an acknowledgment.
First and foremost, it’s an opportunity for the State Department to address the inherent flaws in its environmental review by looking at Keystone XL through a simple prism: Is the pipeline truly in America’s national interest?
The answer is equally simple: No.
From extraction to refining, tar sands crude is more dangerous and dirtier than conventional oil. Most troublingly, it is a dangerous step toward unlocking the Alberta tar sands and allowing Big Oil to maximize it’s extraction of some of the world’s dirtiest oil – with serious consequences for our climate. Apart from the environmental risks, we still have no guarantee from TransCanada that the refined oil would remain in the United States – or contribute to American energy independence in any way.
Despite the fear mongering, misinformation and attack ads designed to scare Americans into believing Keystone XL is in this country’s best interest, the State Department’s decision to extend the review process acknowledges the truth of the matter: Americans deserve to know exactly how the Keystone XL pipeline will impact our lives and our communities.
We can have both a strong economy and a healthy environment, and the choice before us is not Keystone or nothing. Rather, we’re choosing between a pipeline that sends us further down a dirty road of fossil fuels and a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
We can all agree: Job growth is critical to our economy. But now is the time to focus our attention on the jobs in wind, solar, energy efficiency and other alternative energy projects that will keep our economy running for centuries to come. Clean energy has already created more than 1 million construction and manufacturing jobs in the United States. In 2013 alone, the United States added 80,000 clean energy jobs and attracted nearly $37 billion in advanced energy investment. Rather than pursuing dirty energy sources like the Canadian tar sands oil, we should continue to invest in a clean energy economy that provides good paying, high quality jobs here at home.
There are leaders in Congress who get this and who, despite vicious attack ads and the threat of millions being spent to unseat them in November, are taking a courageous stand against Keystone XL. I’m proud to say that we’re standing by them. NextGen Climate has taken a Courage Pledge to support members of Congress who are under attack because they oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.
We know that Keystone XL is not a choice between a stronger economy or a healthier environment. In reality, Keystone is a choice between rich, powerful forces like TransCanada, Big Oil and climate change deniers in Congress who are seeking to advance their own economic self-interests at the expense of policies that will leave our country with a stronger, healthier economy and environment.
It takes courage for our representatives to stand up and fight against such powerful interests. But climate change is a fact — the science is clear — and the latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report affirms that we can no longer afford to wait to address this very real threat.
In the coming months, NextGen stands ready, willing and able to support these members of Congress. We hope you will join us.
Image credit: Flickr/perspective
Tom Steyer is an investor, philanthropist and advanced energy advocate. He is also the President of NextGen Climate, an organization that acts politically to avert climate disaster and preserve American prosperity. Before retiring from the private sector, Tom founded and was the Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. He also was a Managing Director and member of the Investment Committee at Hellman & Friedman.
Tom is actively engaged in climate politics and works to promote economic development and environmental protection in the state. In 2012, Tom served as co-chair with former Secretary of State George Shultz for Yes on Proposition 39, which closed a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations and created jobs in California. In 2010, Tom teamed again with George Shultz to defeat California’s Proposition 23, an effort by out-of-state oil companies to dismantle California’s groundbreaking clean energy law, AB 32. In 2013, Tom also supported the successful campaigns of Ed Markey for Senate in Massachusetts and Terry McAuliffe for Governor in Virginia. Read more about Tom Steyer.