Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline, Faith Leaders Respond | Sojourners

Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline, Faith Leaders Respond

Oil pipeline in Jefferson Co, Texas. Via Wylio http://bit.ly/wslb1w
Oil pipeline in Jefferson Co, Texas. Via Wylio http://bit.ly/wslb1w

Late Wedesday (1/18), leaders from Christian and other faith communities welcomed the news that the Obama administration has rejected the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The controversial project, which would have run for 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, through the American Heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, would have been a backward step in the administration’s professed commitment to investing in clean and renewable energy sources.

In August 2011, more than 1,200 peaceful protestors were arrested as part of a sustained campaign to demonstrate against the pipeline project. In November 2011, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, along with other Sojourners staffers and 15,000 members of the public, peacefully (and prayerfully) encircled the White House to urge President Obama to stop the project.

Sojourners welcomed the Obama’s decision in November to postpone the permitting of the pipeline until an environmental impact report was completed. While this new decision is a clear step forward, TransCanada has the opportunity to reapply for the permit along a different route and leaders have pledged to remain vigilant and watch the issue closely.

Among the voices from the faith community speaking out (happily) in response to this afternoon's Keystone news were:

Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners magazine associate editor and organizer for the Tar Sands religious witness, who said:

“President Obama campaigned as a man who understood the crisis of global warming. He told us that he understood that climate change kills the poor first, as we’ve seen recently with the typhoon in the Philippines. Today he’s demonstrated that he can actually take substantive steps in leading America to meet that challenge. He pushed back on “too big to fail” oil and energy companies. He pushed back on foolish partisan bullying. He stood up as the leader that many elected him to be.

“The fight doesn’t end here – because abusive corporations don’t stop just because their permit was denied—but today we know that our president can also be our leader. We look forward to a future of job production that any American will be proud to be involved in—jobs in an industry that is producing clean energy and protects rather than poisons God’s good earth.”

Brian McLaren, Author and Speaker, who said:

“If Jesus were here today, I think he just might say something like, "humanity shall not live by oil alone." Today, our president showed that there are values above corporate profits. Thanks to him and all who stood up for the common good beyond short-term oil money and towards a clean energy economy with sustainable jobs.”

Dr. James E. Hansen, Head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, who said:

“A slowdown in exploitation of the tar sands would be welcome news, but we have not yet made governments understand and communicate to the public that we cannot burn the unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands and tar shale, without destroying the future well-being of young people and other species on the planet. 

The climate science is crystal clear.  Yet governments continue to resist the implications.  We must collect a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions from fossil fuel companies and distribute the money, 100 percent, to the public.  That will stimulate the economy, innovation, energy efficiency, and clean energies, creating far more jobs than the meager number associated with pipelines and coal mines, while moving us to a clean energy future.”

The Rev. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, speaking on behalf of the Franciscan Action Network, who said:

"We applaud the administration for standing up to the narrow corporate big oil interests and doing the right thing for America.  This is a moral victory that advances the cause of justice, respect for life, and the common good of God’s creation.  As followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we call on all people of good will to work even harder in advocating for government policies that would protect our environment, the poor and the future generations and, at the same time, invest in creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs."

Kathy McNeely, Interim Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, who said:

"It’s a moral outage that the XL Pipeline decision – so important to the U.S.’s heartland as we know it -- is caught up in a political battle. We will continue to work with other faith based groups and redouble our efforts to protect God’s creation from the threat of unsustainable resource extraction and pipeline spills."

Joanna Hanes-Lahr, Activist and Grandmother, said:

“On behalf of my 7 1/2 grandchildren, I salute our President for his understanding of what is at stake in developing tar sands:  unleashing unpredictable climate change/ game over. We who got arrested to call attention to the risk did understand but felt the power of the oil industry and just could not let this go unchallenged.”

The Rev. Mari Castellanos, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, who said:

“This was worth getting arrested for! Even if we have to do it again when they consider the more western route, at least the sand hill cranes are safe for now!”

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Chairperson, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, who said:

“This victory is real, but could be pyrrhic.  Tar sands, shale oil, and other ever-dirtier carbon sources are still beckon a society and an economy in thrall with cheap energy.  They will still be tapped, with devastating consequence for Creation, unless people of faith help shift the larger ethic toward sustainability and sufficiency.” 

Rebecca Ruggles, Health Care Administrator, Baltimore, who said:

“I have lately feared that President Obama had lost his moral compass on energy issues.  This decision reassures me that he is listening and that his administration's energy policy is not completely in the pocket of the industry.”

W. Malcolm Byrnes, PhD, Practicing Roman Catholic (St. Camillus Parish) and Associate Professor Howard University College of Medicine, who said:

“This decision by President Obama (to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline) helps to restore my faith in his promise to protect the health of people and our planet through investment in clean and renewable energy. I hope Obama’s decision signals a renewed commitment in the face of resistance from powerful corporate interests. I also feel that the momentum that we gained through protest and civil disobedience this past year must not be lost; we cannot afford to rest on our laurels; such actions must remain a permanent part of the fabric of change.”

Gary Houser, Concerned Christian, co-producer of documentary on climate tipping points, public interest writer, who said:

"I have seen this as a watershed, turning point moment. Will our society choose the path of honoring God's Creation or will the power of corporate interests be allowed to place the planet on a path to environmental devastation?  I have been praying for God to touch Obama's heart and spark his Christian conscience. I am overjoyed to hear this news!! "

Kathy McNeely, Interim Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, who said:

"It’s a moral outage that the XL Pipeline decision – so important to the U.S.’s heartland as we know it -- is caught up in a political battle. We will continue to work with other faith based groups and redouble our efforts to protect God’s creation from the threat of unsustainable resource extraction and pipeline spills."

George Hoguet, Committed Grandfather & Buddhist practioner, who said:

"As a grandfather of five, I joined with the religious community arrested back on August 29th because breaking our addiction to fossil fuels is critical to protecting the quality of life for our children, and the children of all species. The Keystone XL pipeline is a threat to that future. This is a moral and ethical issue, and I am so pleased that our President is saying No to the project. "  

Michelle Knight, Advocacy Associate, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, who said:

Living in harmony with God’s creation is one of our priorities. The pipeline had the potential to harm Creation severely. We rejoice in this decision, but remain watchful for future developments.

The Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, WitnessMinistries Director, who said:

The Unitarian Universalist Association welcomes President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. If the pipeline is built, the increase in the production of tar sands oil would be devastating to the health of the First Nation’s people of Alberta, Canada and their ancestral lands. Because of this, Unitarian Universalists see the construction of the pipeline as unjust and immoral and call on the Obama administration to reject all future proposals regardless of the route.