keystone pipeline

Keystone XL: Ambiguity is the Enemy of Progress

Photo by Liz Schmitt / Sojourners
Photo by Liz Schmitt / Sojourners

The U.S. needs to quit its crude oil habit. TransCanada needs to see the individuals whose health is directly threatened by Keystone XL. The president and legislators alike need to act for the welfare of not only this generation but for the generations to come, if we indeed want to see the flourishing of future generations. We need to admit to our addiction to oil and identify its harmful ecological impact for what it is.

As a person of faith, I want to see our landscapes, waters and skies restored to wholeness. I am compelled by the love I’ve received from God and God’s people to work alongside others for the common good of all. Having experienced the crisp June evenings of Minnesota as well as the asthma-inducing smog of Hong Kong, I know both the beauty of fresh air and green spaces and the dullness of pollution and gray skies. The chances of enjoying the former are quickly dwindling at our current rate of oil consumption, but we still have time to prevent further environmental degradation, if not for future generations then at least for those of us who still look forward to the rest of their lives, no matter our age.

Obama May Delay Controversial Keystone XL Decision Until 2014

Climate defenders should celebrate the news that Obama is continuing to delay signing a permit that would allow foreign-owned mining company TransCanada a permit to build the northern route of the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline across the U.S.

After the State Department once again released a highly flawed assessment in March and the Environmental Protection Agency called it “deeply flawed” (again), we see that grassroots pressure is creating an effective roadblock on this incredibly dangerous path.

From Reuters:

The Obama administration is unlikely to make a decision on the Canada-to-Nebraska Keystone XL pipeline until late this year as it painstakingly weighs the project’s impact on the environment and on energy security, a U.S. official and analysts said on Friday.

The decision may not be made until November, December or even early 2014, said a U.S. official … who did not want to be named given the sensitive nature of the project.

Analysts agreed that a decision would not be made by this summer as the State Department had suggested when it issued an environmental review on the pipeline on March 1.

The Washington Post is Wrong on Keystone XL

Tar sands protesters. Photo courtesy Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

The day after the Washington Post announced it was moving its top environmental reporter off the green beat to cover politics at the White House, this op-ed went up toeing an uncomfortably familiar line: by speaking out against the Keystone XL pipeline, environmentalists are “missing the climate-endangered forest for the trees.”

Leaving aside for a moment the uncomfortable irony of being reprimanded for missing the big fight by an outlet that is reshuffling focus on that very front: the editorial board, respectfully, is wrong. Not that it doesn’t have a point, but that point is concrete and incremental – and misses the entire meaning of the forest of protests over the last 18 months.

State Department's Latest Wrong-Headed Analysis of Keystone XL Pipeline

Map by Laris Karklis/The Washington Post via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 6: Proposed Keystone XL Extension map. Map by Laris Karklis/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Last week, the State Department issued its next draft  of the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) assessing the northern route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Officially, the State Department does not make any recommendations on whether the pipeline should be approved or denied. But the summation language is all to the positive — making it clear that the State Department still doesn’t understand global warming and its disastrous consequences.

I’m sure the scientists, policy analysts, and environmentalists among us will soon sort out and explain the hundreds of pages released by the State Department March 1. But until then, here’s the part I found most significant: “The life-cycle carbon footprint, for transportation fuels produced in U.S. refineries, would increase if the project were approved.”

Please note that this information is buried way way way deep in the documents. The general summary by the State Department is favorable toward industry and the pipeline, though there are some conclusions drawn that I think are not supportable.

The Top 10 Stories of April 20, 2012

Quote of the day.
“I don’t want to overemphasize my Catholicism here. But I know my religion. I know religions in general. In the New Testament, the one place where Jesus talks about the death penalty, he says, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ When I’ve reflected on the death penalty, the reality is I frequently ponder that passage.” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who will soon sign a bill abolishing the death penalty in the state.
(Washington Post)

The Roots of the Tar Sands Movement

Some of us helped organize a massive display of civil disobedience outside the White House earlier this fall, protesting a proposed pipeline from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. It was a good two weeks of action—1,252 Americans ended up in jail, the largest and most sustained protest of its kind in decades. But the truth? We were Johnny-come-latelies to this movement. The real work had begun years before, and has been carried out by indigenous communities on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

I knew just enough about the Alberta tar sands to know that the first person I should call when we started thinking about joining the protest was Tom Goldtooth, head of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and one of the most venerable and venerated environmental leaders in the country. I knew, vaguely, that he’d told me about this work before—even shown me pictures of the vast tribal lands and boreal forest wrecked by the early stages of mining for oil north of the border. But I’d never really followed up—there are lots of horrors in this world, who can pay attention to them all, excuse excuse blah blah excuse.

It was only when NASA scientist James Hansen explained what damage burning this vast pool of oil would do to the climate that it rose to the top of my priority list. (A lot of damage—“essentially game over for the climate” was how he put it.) And I’m glad it did, in part because it brought me more closely in touch with some of the greatest organizers on this continent.

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The Morning News: Thursday November 17, 2011

As Injured Vets Return Home, Churches Reach Out. Occupy Wall Street Gears Up For The Big Day. Faith Overtones In Occupy Protests But Leaders Wary. OpEd: How The First Amendment Got Hijacked. Religious Groups Offer Help To Evicted Protesters. OpEd: What Happens When A Seminary Is Occupied? Religious Voices Loud And Clear At Keystone XL Protests. Iowa Scientists Ask Candidates To Acknowledge Climate Change. And Below The Line: Portraits Of American Poverty.

You Make Me Almost Want To Be a Christian

A demonstrator at Sunday's anti-Keystone XL pipeline rally in Washington, D.C. P
A demonstrator at Sunday's anti-Keystone XL pipeline rally in Washington, D.C. Photo for Sojourners by Joan Bisset.

I always notice something when speaking to a mostly secular audience. Many people have been so hurt or rejected by the bad religion in which they were raised or have encountered elsewhere over the course of their lives, and, quite understandably, they are skeptical and wary of the faith community. But when someone looks like a faith leader (this is where the ecclesial robe helps ) and says things that are different from what they expect or are used to, their response is one of gratitude and the moment becomes an opportunity for healing.

After I spoke Sunday and joined the circle around the White House, person after person came up to me to express their thanks or simply to talk.

My favorite comment of the day came from a woman who quietly whispered in my ear, "You make me almost want to be a Christian."

November 6: More Than Just the Climate Movement?

BEEEEEE
This Sunday (11/6), is precisely one year from the 2012 General Election where the next U.S. President will be elected, and to mark the date, thousands of people from across the country plan to gather at the White House.

But we're not gathering to celebrate, have a sit-in, or even march in protest. Instead, we plan to surround the White House -- literally -- in a Circle of Hope that could be as large as a mile or more in circumference.

From our Circle of Hope we will call upon President Obama to reject the dirty-oil, Keystone XL pipeline Big Oil wants to build from the Canadian tar sands in the Alberta province 6,000 miles south -- straight through the American Heartland -- to the oil refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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