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Alex Diaz
Alex Diaz

Obama Keystone statement bodes ill for future of climate

If President Obama's thoroughly embarrassing stumbling-block posture at Durban left any doubt about the softness of his conviction on climate change, the Keystone decision has just nailed the notion.

Yes, it's great that the pipeline is dead, and everyone from Bill McKibben and 350.org to every single demonstrator who got this done by leading the charge against the project against all odds, deserves our sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations and gratitude. It really would have been game over for the climate had the pipeline gone through.

But as we get past the celebration and refocus on the hard work ahead to ensure that the game is won in the end, it's crucial to note what the president's Keystone statement says about our chances for victory. And it's not one bit encouraging.

Two things stand out. First, there's not a single mention of the climate threat as one of the motivations behind the decision, when in fact it should have been the MAIN motivation. He blames it on the administration's inability to meet the arbitrary Republican deadline.

What??!! Are you kidding me? You mean to say he would have gone along if Republicans had been more lenient and agreed to more time? This alone raises a huge red flag, the same he raised with his stance at Durban, where the U.S. shocked everyone with its inexplicable foot dragging and outright opposition to any significant progress.

Second, Obama once again boasts about his perplexing all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes the support of domestic oil, gas and coal in addition to renewables. Congratulate me, he seems to say, because oil and gas are up in America, alongside increases in solar and wind.

This is simply mind blowing. The planet risks an end-of-the-world scenario in a few decades with today's runaway climate change and record increases in carbon and methane emissions. The latest science is the scariest yet, saying we're this close to passing the dreaded 2 degree C temperature rise, and dreaded indeed it is. Avoiding that threshold already requires a herculean task, which leaves zero room for NEW fossil-fuel generation that locks in tipping-point emissions for decades more.

So why is the president of the United States, the same one who once promised with inspiring passion to halt the rise of the oceans, feeling great about today's increase in oil and gas production? That's the alarming part of his statement, the fact that this is something he is PROUD of, not something he apologetically laments being cornered into by politics.

No, he's not sorry at all. Not one iota. He is concerned solely, it seems, with enhancing our security by ending the country's reliance on foreign oil and replacing it with an all-of-the-above American menu. His often stated concern over climate change, we are then led to think, must be blurred by the 1990s assumption that we have a long time to solve this mother-of-all problems.

Mr. President, we do not have that luxury. You have to stand for the end of fossil fuels TODAY. Stopping Keystone helps, but you can't stop there. When you signed up for the job, you told us you knew damn well that you would be the final president with any chance at preventing irreversible climate change. If you lose this year, we all know your Republican successor will lose the game in regulation, so we're still cheering for you, because you may still be able to pull it off, even if it takes double-overtime. But not like this, Mr. President.

Not like this.

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