Obama vows action on climate change -- now it's time to stop tar sands pipelines

Photo: Elvert Barnes

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It's a complicated world. It is of course a huge step in the right direction for the President of the United States to be talking about climate change and extreme weather in such detail in the State of the Union address. 

But ultimately large scale change isn't going to come from the top down. Frankly it's amazing the president wants to do anything about climate change given the aggressive defence of the fossil fuel industries in Washington D.C. and the blatant denial of basic climate science on the floor of the Congress from elected officials these days.

That being said, the "all of the above" energy policy Obama described in his speech is still a gateway to global warming. We are either on a path to reduce fossil fuel dependence or increase it. Building tons of new oil and gas pipelines takes us aggressively in the wrong direction. To give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt this policy approach may be the only thing they see as politically achievable. 

That's where we come in... Social movements have always ultimately been the vehicle of real change. The rally in Washington D.C. next weekend on Presidents Day is an important moment. As Van Jones says: "No let up... no let down."

We need to keep the pressure on the Obama administration and all elected officials in the U.S., Canada and around the world. This is a global movement to stop the destabilization of the earth's climate, and we all have a role to play. 

What the President of the United States made clear Tuesday night was that if the Congress didn't act he would. Barack Obama holds the ultimate authority in the U.S. to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. His signature is required -- it's just that simple.

It is important that Obama reject this pipeline because it is one of the fuses leading back to one of the worlds biggest carbon bombs. If he wants to reduce the amount of what he called "dangerous carbon pollution" then he holds in his hands the power to reduce our dependence on this dangerous product. 

As a Canadian I am planning to do everything I can to support the rally and share the perspective of Canadians also fighting tar sands pipelines and oil tankers on the west coast. All of these pipelines need to be stopped and Keystone XL is a great place to start.

 Why risk more Kalamazoo oil spills anywhere along the pipeline route, let alone put the poor Gulf coast under the additional stress of a potential spill of diluted bitumen from the tar sands. 

These are risks we are increasingly becoming aware of in B.C. as we face the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline proposal. We have been hosting town hall meetings in B.C. communities to discuss the risks of these projects. 

Tonight, Feb. 13, we have a town hall meeting in East Vancouver at the WISE hall at 1882 Adanac St. at 7pm to discuss the tar sands pipeline and tanker issue including sharing updates about our work in collaboration with our allies working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. If you can't make it in person It will be streaming live on the Internet. Speakers will include: Rueben George from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Sacred Trust Initiative; Nikki Sharma from Vancouver Parks Board; Sven Biggs on behalf of Tanker Free BC; Joe Foy from the Wilderness Committee; and myself on behalf of Forest Ethics Advocacy. 

Working together with allies in the United States and around the world, we can stop all of these dangerous projects. Please join me tonight in person or online to take part in this important discussion.  


Ben West is Tar Sands Campaign Director at Forest Ethics Advocacy.

Photo: Elvert Barnes




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