In an interview with veteran journalist Bill Moyers set to air Friday evening, author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, a key voice in the climate justice movement, says that President Obama’s looming decision to approve or reject the Keystone XL tar sands will be the ultimate indicator of whether his loyalties reside with the health of the planet and future generations or with the desires and financial interests of the fossil fuel industry.
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According to McKibben, the climate movement does not trust Obama to do the right thing on the pipeline, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and outpouring of opposition to the tar sands project. “He’s done some good things, but his record is mixed at best,” McKibben tells Moyers. “And he will be remembered at the moment, as the president who produced more carbon than anybody thought possible, unless he begins to act now with real power.”
Articulating the very precise moment that we’re in and why the stakes surrounding Keystone XL and our overall relationship to fossil fuels are so dramatically heightened at the moment, McKibben says:
The remarks come one week since the State Department released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the pipeline project which green groups said contained all the information the president and Secretary of State John Kerry need to reject the project once and for all.
Though many mainstream news outlets followed the oil industry spin that tried to play the FEIS findings as a move closer to presidential approval, climate experts and opponents of the pipeline were quick to counter that narrative by saying the report clearly shows the climate impact of tar sands would make it impossible for Obama to say “yes” if he intends to keep his pledge to seriously address the crisis of global warming.
As McKibben explains, the story being peddled by the oil industry, the pipeline companies and their political backers is “unraveling” quickly in the face of the evidence. “The idea that [completing Keystone XL] would make no difference is crazy. It’s a pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of oil. In the last two weeks, the head of TransCanada itself has said, if we can’t build this pipeline, then the expansion of the tar sands is called into question.”
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