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March 6, 2015

Focus Misplaced on Keystone Pipeline

Ben German argues that the intense battle over the Keystone pipeline approval risks undermining more critical targets of the climate change movement:

“Critics who say climate change is a big problem but that Keystone is the wrong battle are ready to pounce. Some take issue with environmentalists who say Keystone XL would be a major contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions to begin with.”

Some contend that “coal-fired power [is] a much bigger enemy than Keystone.”

“Jonathan Chait, in late October, agreed with the argument that stopping Keystone would do very little to slow greenhouse-gas emissions, calling EPA plans to regulate existing coal-fired plants as a far more important fight. ‘The whole crusade increasingly looks like a bizarre misallocation of political attention,’ he wrote.”

But Keystone critics say the fight is both consequential for the climate and a movement-builder. It has included civil disobedience and mass rallies that saw young activists pour into Washington.

  • zappa24

    The Keystone battle isn’t only over climate change. It is also over the threat the pipeline would create if it ever ruptured to the places it was built in. It is also over the lies that are being used to sell it to the American public (that it would lead to more oil for the U.S. consumer, that it will lead to substantial long term jobs in the U.S.)

  • ml77

    No one in this article explains what the climate movement should have done instead of fighting Keystone XL. We ARE fighting coal power. This is a rare case where the decisions rests solely with the President, who claims to be concerned about the climate. So it was an excellent test of his commitment to the climate fight, and the movement’s ability to pressure him to do the right thing.

    Without the climate movement, Keystone XL would have been approved in 2011. I fail to see how critics think the climate would have been better off if we had not fought this battle.

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