President Obama, listen to the people and reject Keystone XL
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Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has always been about people power. Led by farmers and ranchers, tribal communities and everyday Americans, the fight over the pipeline has brought thousands of people into the streets and emboldened hundreds to get arrested to show their opposition. These are many of the same people that brought President Obama into office when he leaned on an unprecedented base of small donors.
These are also the same people whose power the Supreme Court has tried to limit through rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon vs. FEC. These decisions opened the gates for corporations to spend unlimited funds to influence elections. As a result the Koch Brothers and other polluters were able to put millions of dollars into helping the Republicans take control of the Senate.
The news is swarming with speculation about what the Senate takeover will mean for the pipeline’s future. Senator McConnell (R-KY) has already announced his intent to quickly push approval of the pipeline onto the president’s desk.
If this election has shown anything, it is that trying to play footsie with both the oil industry and environmentalists is a losing proposition. Senators Begich (D-AL) and Hagan (D-NC) tried it by voting to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and both are on their way home. Mark Udall (D-CO) tried to signal his support for fossil fuels by bringing legislation to promote the export of natural gas off our coasts but it didn’t stop the industry from supporting his opponent or save his job. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was one of the few Democrats to win a competitive race and she did it by remaining unwavering in her commitment to the environment and her opposition to Keystone XL. President Obama and the Senate Democrats are best served by protecting the public interest and opposing this pipeline and other attempts to build dirty infrastructure.
Voters don’t want their leaders to cater to corporate interests above those of the American public. Keystone XL motivates environmentalists and the progressive community. Over 400,000 people marched in the streets of New York city demanding that our leaders pay attention to climate science. Nearly 96,000 people have pledged to risk arrest if President Obama approves the pipeline. Over 50,000 people came together on the mall as part of the Forward on Climate rally in 2013. For their long term political survival as well as the survival of the planet, President Obama and the Democratic minority need to listen to the people and reject Keystone XL and not try to appease oil industry demands.