Did you miss last night's state of the union? It was quite a speech. Click here to tell congress to back up the President's call to action on climate change by sustaining his veto of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Last night the President said "No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change." It was perhaps my favorite part of his ambitious, forward-looking speech that included more discussion of climate change and climate impacts than any of his previous State of the Union addresses1 - and came very close to outright denouncing the Keystone XL oil pipeline.2
But the President's speech was ... well, just a speech. It will take continued action from all of us to make protecting our planet a priority for this administration, and especially for this Congress. Take for example the fact that right now, today, the Senate is voting on a series of amendments designed to force members into admitting whether they even believe Climate Change occurring.3
These roll call votes are important so that once and for all we know who's with us, and who's too far gone to even admit basic facts (what's next, a vote on whether gravity is real? How about a sense of the Senate on which way is up?). But ultimately, there's no amendment that can stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being anything more than a climate killer. That's why it's essential that we take this moment to remind our Senators to uphold the President's veto, and remind the President that we appreciate his tough-talk.
The President's also called on Congress to "set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline." That was an awesome one liner, but did not explicitly state that he would stop Keystone XL for good. In fact, in the next two weeks his head of the EPA, Energy Secretary, and other officials get a chance to weigh in on the flawed State Department Study and clarify that building a giant pipe to mainline the dirtiest oil on the planet through America's Heartland is simply not in the national interest.4
And it gets potentially worse. As I write this, a foreign oil company is seizing land land that has belonged to ranching families and local tribes for generations. The pollution and climate impacts of this pipeline are bad enough, but to use "Eminent Domain" for a Canadian company to profit at the expense of Americans is downright unpatriotic.5
The President applauded growth in solar and wind power, and said "America is more free from the grip of foreign oil than in the last 30 years." But he didn't address the boom in fracking and unconventional oil drilling that has poisoned water supplies, fouled the air and increased our emissions of methane and other global warming pollution. Lower prices at the pump and reduced heating costs are good for a lot of families. But the long term costs associated with becoming a nation built on fracking (and all the earthquakes it causes) are not being adequately addressed by this administration, yet.
You can watch the whole speech, the Republican response, and read real-time commentary from me and our friends at the replay page here. But one thing is clear: President Obama intends to spend the last two years of his presidency locked in a fight with this Republican Congress over the future of our nation -- And climate change is a big part of that fight.
That's good news for all of us who care about the planet. But it's only the chance to fight -- not the victory itself. So sign on here to tell your Senators to stick with the President, and stop Keystone XL. And stay tuned for even more ways to take action for our planet in the days and weeks ahead.
Drew and the team at Environmental Action
1 - Environmental Action, 2015 State of the (environmental) Union, January 20, 2015
2 - Joe Romm, Obama Touts Climate Action, Mocks The ‘I’m Not A Scientist’ Caucus, Think Progress Green, January 20, 2015
3 - Cameron Joseph, GOP hopefuls to watch on climate change votes, The Hill, January 21, 2015
4 - Kevin Bohn, As Keystone vote looms, it's crunch time for federal agencies to weigh in, CNN, January 18, 2015
5 - Emily Atkin, Nebraskans File New Lawsuits That Could Stop The Keystone XL Pipeline, Think Progress Green, January 20, 2015