As momentum behind approving the Keystone XL pipeline grows, opponents are scrambling to regroup. Public support is now around 70 percent, and many of the main arguments made by activist groups have been debunked by some of their most loyal allies. Even the pipeline opponents admit their last resort is simply to delay the project as long as possible.
Keystone Opposition Arguments “Dismantled”
Over the past month, Keystone XL opponents were abandoned by usually supportive media outlets:
- The Washington Post’s March 4 editorial, Environmentalists are fighting the wrong battles, stated that the State Department’s 2,000 page analysis “dismantled the case that nixing the Canadian pipeline must be a priority for anyone concerned about climate change.”
- Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson admits in his Feb. 25 piece Obama has the power to act on global warming, that President Obama’s “seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline.” Like so many others, he explains, “the oil is likely to be extracted eventually, regardless of the pipeline decision.”
- New York Times op-ed contributor Joe Nocera wrote in his February 18 piece, How Not to Fix Climate Change, that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline “should be a no-brainer for the president, for all the reasons I stated earlier, and one more: the strategy of activists like McKibben, Brune and Hansen, who have made the Keystone pipeline their line in the sand, is utterly boneheaded.”
Broadcasting Message of Delay
With their arguments “dismantled,” Keystone XL opponents are now broadcasting that they will block the project using every means possible. Reuter’s reports in its March 6 article Keystone XL critics now hang hopes on delaying the pipeline:
“After the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an important hurdle last week, critics of the project are searching for ways to force more of the delays that have dogged it for more than four years already…Greens hope the State Department will embrace fresh delays because John Kerry, who took over from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in February, has long supported tackling global warming. ‘One would hope that Kerry … would be more than happy to spend more time talking about this,’ said Damon Moglen, the climate director at Friends of the Earth.”
Last Resort: Groups Deploying More Ineffective Tactics?
Sierra Club and 350.org appear to be unfazed by concern raised about their approach. As Reuters and Politico report, these groups will concoct an array of tactics to delay pipeline construction. Reuters reports:
“Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for 350.org, a group that has led demonstrations against the pipeline at the White House, said members will picket Obama and Kerry at home and abroad during the public comment period. He said 350.org has been contacted by thousands of people willing to risk their bodies to stop the pipeline, and the group will train them in civil disobedience. Protests could take place in Washington, along the route of the proposed pipeline, and at TransCanada offices in Houston and near Boston, he said.”
Along with their brethren in arms, the Sierra Club will join the fray. Talia Buford wrote in a February 22 Politico piece that:
“After 121 years of lobbying, letter-writing campaigns and law-abiding protests, the Sierra Club is retooling itself for the flash-mob age — and showing an increasingly aggressive edge. That edge was on display last week, when the Sierra Club’s two top leaders and 46 other climate activists zip-tied themselves to the White House gates to protest the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The organization called it the first time it had suspended its decades-long policy against club-sanctioned civil disobedience.”
Time to Move Forward
So the question remains: will President Obama approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or instead give activist groups what they’re seeking — more red tape, more delays, and more litigation, all of which could eventually kill the project? We know that’s the game plan for Keystone XL’s fringe opponents. We also know that the facts support approval of this project and the rhetoric of the opponents keep shifting. Let’s hope that this time the president ultimately stands instead with the majority of the American public who see Keystone XL as a national necessity.