Today, April 21, Earth Day is observed. Coincidentally tomorrow, the actual date of Earth Day, is the last day to submit comments to the State Department about the Keystone XL Pipeline. I wrote two letters; the latest appears below. Any citizen is entitled to submit his or her thoughts for consideration. It’s easy. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish all my Canadian friends and those in the oil industry who are just trying to make a living all the personal success in the world. But it can’t come at the price of a habitable planet for the rest of us. There are ways to move from a fossil-intensive economy to a renewable economy that spread the pain of the transition fairly and equitably across all of us who will benefit from that transition. There has to be a turning point, and Keystone XL is it.
To Secretary of State John Kerry:
It’s time for US policy to pivot away from fossil fuels to renewable, sustainable energy resources, including wide-scale investment in conservation and land use reform. Denying approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline should be that pivot point.
Once a hard-asset investment like a pipeline goes into the ground, history is changed permanently and forever. It cannot be undone. It is far, far easier to refrain from doing it in the first place than to rip it out and strand all the invested money.
If we don’t have the courage to face the problem of climate change now by forgoing this investment, we will not have the courage later to effectively destroy the value the pipeline will represent. It must not be built.
There are many ways to skin the job cat. Keystone will create only 35 permanent jobs. Retrofitting American houses for greater energy efficiency will alone create hundreds of thousands of jobs for many decades.
To bestow a reasonable hope of a sustainable future for our children, including a robust economy, we have to move away from capital-intensive, revenue-concentrating investments like oil pipelines to a more diversified and dispersed model.
Oil is environmental leverage for which we have not yet paid. We have seen the damage that poorly managed leverage can do in the recent credit crisis and in countless examples before that.
The balloon payment for our oil-leveraged economy is due. Let’s do the conservative thing and avoid adding to the environmental debt and throwing good money after bad into an investment that ultimately cannot perform. It’s called living within our means—a very conservative idea.
What do you think about Keystone XL? Why not let John Kerry know?