Keystone XL Pipeline

Overbrook Grantee 350.org helps introduce the End Polluter Welfare Act into Congress

On May 10th, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), joined by Overbrook Grantee 350.org, introduced the "End Polluter Welfare Act" legislation into Congress. The bill aims at cutting billions in federal subsidies currently given to the oil, coal, and gas industries.

The bill notes that fossil fuels are subsidized at 6 times the rate of renewable energies: $72 billion in 2002-2008, compared with $12.2 billion for renewables. By contrast, in 2011 alone, the five largest oil companies earned a combined $137 billion. Furthermore, the new bill would not only prevent millions of tons annual carbon emissions, it would save billions of dollars. For example, $12 billion would be saved by repealing a 2004 law that allows fossil fuel corporations to take deductions by claiming they are manufacturers, one of many such exemptions.

The efforts of Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison were supported by 350.org, a global grassroots coalition that seeks to curb carbon emissions by using social media and online campaigns to catalyze public protests. For instance, in the wake of the Heartland Institute's billboard attacks likening climate change believers to the Unabomber, it immediately organized online counter-protests. The backlash resulted in the pull-out by several high-profile funders from the Institute. 350.org also offers a host of resources on organizing events, protests, workshops, and campaigns.

While the bill will certainly face daunting challenges in both the House and the Senate (where climate change deniers grow ever more vocal), its introduction signals a new willingness to tackle entrenched energy interests. And, by partnering with next-generation grassroots organizations like 350.org and harnessing broad-based public support, such bills may finally have a chance to succeed.

 

Bill McKibben Continues His Keystone XL Campaign

Bill McKibben, founder of Overbrook grantee 350.org and a central rallying voice behind the Keystone protesters, appeared on The Colbert Report last night to discuss his latest efforts to stop the Senate from approving legislation to resurrect Keystone XL.

Yesterday, 350.org led a charge to send 500,000 emails to the Senate asking elected leaders to “block any efforts to revive the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline.” The push ends today, and as of this morning, the pile of emails was closing in on 700,000.

If you want more information on the trajectory of this movement and commentary from Bill McKibben, please watch 350.org's video on the fight against Keystone XL.

Bill McKibben and the Keystone Decision

For those of you following the progress (or glorious lack thereof) of the Keystone XL Pipeline, blogged about here last Wednesday after President Obama's statement, you may have felt the sweetness of victory tempered by the President's lukewarm reasoning for denying the application. Without explicitly mentioning the devastating environmental impacts of tar sands oil extraction, without mentioning the millions of industry dollars lining the pockets (and weighting the opinions) of Republican representatives pushing for the Keystone deal, without mentioning the vulnerable habitats that would have been affected by the positioning of the pipeline, the President's statement placed the blame squarely on timing. From a reading of the statement, with no background on the issue, a novice would chalk the application denial up to bad scheduling rather than bad practice.

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline," says Obama's statement, "but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people."

While happy with the end result, many environmentalists remain trepidatious, worrying that the real reasons thousands circled the White House in protest last November have been glossed over.

Meanwhile Bill McKibben, founder of Overbrook grantee 350.org and a central rallying voice behind the Keystone protesters, is not resting on his laurels. A great profile by writer Barbara Moran in yesterday's Boston Globe goes behind the scenes with McKibben, and a piece in the Huffington Post by McKibben himself from earlier this month portray a soft-spoken, inadvertent leader who has his facts straight. In the Huffington Post piece, McKibben expertly links oil industry subsidies, campaign finance and the Chamber of Commerce to the climate crisis.

President Obama Denies Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

Today marks a tremendous victory for environmentalists and all Americans as President Obama officially announced his denial of the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. (Click here to read the President's official statement.)The Overbrook Foundation is proud to be among those committed to preventing the construction of a pipeline which presented such a great threat to our environment and national interests. Most importantly, activists like Overbrook grantee 350.org should be proud of this accomplishment after they worked tirelessly to convince and mobilize so many Americans to take part in a committed movement fighting this pipeline.As one 350.org blogger wrote today, "Make no mistake, for all of us who have been protesting the project, this is a major victory. As late as October, a poll of 300 ‘energy insiders’ in Washington by the National Journal found that 97% thought the pipeline permit would be granted. We tipped the balance in a major way.”This statement and the coverage of the pipeline over the past few months reminds us that this win is particularly important in light of the uphill battle against the oil industry’s deep pockets and strong political influence.Energized by this victory, many in the environmental community have thanked Obama for sticking up for the American people and look to continue activism to promote better environmental practices and fight climate change in 2012.

If you want more information on the trajectory of this movement and commentary from Bill McKibben, please watch 350.org's video on the fight against Keystone XL. While it was made a couple of months ago, the video continues to be an important reminder of this environmental victory.We are very happy to share this news with our readers and congratulate our grantees on a job well done!

Updates on the Keystone XL Pipeline

To continue our coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline, we want to share some new developments:

1) This past Sunday, thousands of Americans gathered outside of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and to demand that President Obama halt the plans for its construction. Overbrook supported groups such as 350.org and the NRDC successfully organized this mass protest to show the President and the country that many Americans do not want this project to go forward. With the hard work of these leaders and organizations, Washington and the American public can see the emergence of a strong group that opposes this plan and want to hold President Obama accountable for his campaign promises to protect the environment. Learn more and see footage from the protest from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/thousands-protest-at-white-house-over-oil-pipeline/2011/11/07/gIQAnAjCvM_video.html

2) Major news outlets have also reported the launch of a state department inquiry that will investigate potentially unethical relationships between policymakers and governmental agencies and those promoting the pipeline. Environmental groups and more than a dozen congress members have called for this investigation before the President makes his final decision on the Keystone XL project. For more information, The New York Times writes http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/science/earth/inquiry-into-keystone-xl-pipeline-permit-process.html?hp

Keystone XL Fight Gets Personal

A Canadian company's fight to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is taking a decidedly personal turn.  TransCanada is suing dozens of landowners for access to their properties in order to build the pipeline.  But many of the property owners say they're not going down without a fight.

According to the New York Times, TransCanada -- acting through its U.S. subsidiary, Keystone -- has been ordering people to hand over their land, claiming eminent domain.  Yet the company doesn't actually have the green light from the U.S. government to start construction.  Regardless, TransCanada officials say they're still able to start securing land, which is exactly what they're doing to the chagrin of property owners along the pipeline's proposed 1,700-mile path.  A final decision from the State Department is expected by the end of the year; but a report claiming the project would have "minimal environmental impact" strongly suggests the State Department will give Keystone XL the go-ahead.

The pipeline would cross through six states on its way from northern Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, carrying crude oil to refineries.  Supporters say it would be a boon for job seekers, and a source of security for those worried about foreign energy dependence.  But opponents -- including us here at The Overbrook Foundation -- are concerned about the environmental repercussions of Keystone XL.  The pipeline runs the risk of contaminating the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of water for more than a quarter of the nation's crops.  Critics are also worried about the devastating effects of extracting and burning heavy crude in Canada's oil sands.

The Overbrook Foundation invites you to check out Tar Sands Action, a project of 350.org, to learn more about the dangers the pipeline poses and what you can do to help.

To read the full article on the New York Times' website, click here.