Pressuring Obama To Refuse Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

Pressuring Obama To Refuse Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

President Obama has to sign a permit to allow Transcanada's pipeline to cross international borders. This is why he shouldn't.

A recent "open letter" by Jamie Henn to president Obama, published on The Huffington Post, is a seriously reply to one of President Obama's fundraising letters. The letter, responding to Campaign Manager for the Obama for America Campaign, Jim Messina, effectively refuses to donate a single dollar to President Obama's reelection campaign until he commits to stopping TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline. The 1,700 mile-long pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from the Canadian border to Texas oil refineries, is proposed to be built over precious Midland agricultural and nature preservations through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the rest of our the U.S. bread basket. Furthermore, the pipeline travels over hundreds of mile of the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater source for millions of Americans in the midwest. Were any portion of this pipeline to rupture, it could have catastrophic effects on natural wilderness, food production, and our water supply. Its easy to see why Henn, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans, feel so strongly about stopping this pipeline, and why they're willing to lean on President Obama, in an election year, to do it.

There's been a lot of talk lately by liberal interests about threatening to withold funds or support from Obama's campaign should he not come out stronger against entitlement reform, environmental regulation, or the tax code. Unfortunately, many of these things are legislative items largely outside of his power to influence, particularly with such partisan opposition in the Republican-dominated House. Even environmental regulations are difficult to pass with the sustained conservative attack on the EPA. However, Obama has all the power in the world to shut down the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Because the pipeline crosses our international border with Canada, Transcanada must have a Presidential Permit to build it. Without that, the pipeline is dead in the water. "This is a clear test for the President," Henn wrote in his letter to Messina, "will he stand with Big Oil or will he stand with us, the millions of Americans that cheered his promise to 'end the tyranny of oil' and heal our planet?"

It will take a popular movement to convince President Obama to forego the usual gentleman's agreement with oil companies, and to refuse to sign the permit necessary for TransCanada to build. The Canadian oil giant has been aggressively campaigning in the states to build popular support; but the opposition has been just as strong. In fact, TransCanada's unrelenting campaign of misinformation has been fairly effectively turned aside in the media wars waging over the pipeline. The reality is that tar sands oil is so corrosive that the pipeline is virtually guaranteed to leak, and leak often. Furthermore, the domestic jobs to which they refer, appealing to our continued calls for job growth, to are almost entirely temporary contractors, not permanent jobs. The U.S. is not willing to trade some temporary job creation, likely lasting only months, for a permanent blight upon our pristine plains, and a consistent threat to natural resources and multi-generation farmers that already inhabit those lands. By taking this message to the President, Henn and thousands of others may avert a short-sighted, profit-motivated disaster.