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The Ac Fac
Putting in place a climate policy that will truly fight global warming needs to happen at all levels - from the negotiations in Copenhagen to the debate in the House and Senate and even to the level of consideration of a pipeline permit. If we allow individual projects to move forward without sufficient analysis of how they link to the goal of building a clean energy future - we undermine our own policy commitments and priorities.
It is not in our national interest to invest in pipelines and refineries that will lock us into the high levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil production, transportation and upgrading. Instead of pipelines for tar sands oil, we need to be building the infrastructure for our clean energy economy so that in the future, we will not depend on oil - and especially not on the even dirtier tar sands oil.
After considerable review and evaluation, on August 20, 2009, the Department issued a Presidential Permit to Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership for the Alberta Clipper pipeline.
The State Department will continue to work to ensure that both the United States and Canada take ambitious action to address climate change, and will cooperate with the Canadian government through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, the pursuit of comprehensive climate legislation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We are very upset about your decision, announced today, to approve the Clipper pipeline that will carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta into the US. If you and the president are truly committed to "reducing overall emissions and leading the global transition to a low-carbon economy," as mentioned in today's release, then this decision is entirely hypocritical. The use of tar sands for energy in the US will certainly increase, not reduce, our overall carbon emissions.
A few weeks ago, we let you know about the problems associated with the construction of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline. We urged you not to approve the destruction of indigenous lands and increased carbon emissions that this pipeline will bring. Hopeful that you would make the right choice, we acted out a skit in front of your office at the State Department, where you rescued Canada, America and the rest of the world from the filthy, evil Tar Sands Monster. We filled up your voicemail box numerous times with phone calls from across the country, and we sent you over 10,000 emails urging you to deny this permit.
Today's statement asserts that this permit approval sends a "positive economic signal." We can't afford to send any more positive economic signals to dirty energy corporations; instead we must only send positive signals to those who are creating green economic prosperity. We have been encouraged by the administration's rhetoric that economic growth and fighting climate change are not in fact mutually exclusive, but this decision does not reflect that perspective.
This oil pipeline will only extend the US’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come instead of reversing global warming and putting the US on a low-carbon track towards green economic prosperity. We're watching your decisions. We are aware of the contradictions between your words and actions, and we are disappointed.
Avaaz Action Factory
The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements.
When we set up camp 50 yards from the State Department staff entrance at seven o’clock this morning, there was the usual kafuffle with the police arriving and trying to figure out what they could kick us out for. When they found nothing (except for lowering the tops of our makeshift tents to make us look less like we’re camping), they backed off and those that stayed became very friendly and have just been spending the day with us. Even later, when an employee from inside the building called the police asking them to remove us, they came over here and told us that we were doing nothing wrong and to keep up the good work!
Most employees walking by have been very receptive though, and we ran out of our 500 flyers within the first three hours because everyone was so enthusiastically taking them. We’ve gotten lots of smiles, a few peace signs, and just generally feel pretty appreciated which really helps motivate us to keep going.
When we went inside to deliver a letter with our message, a representative from the office of Todd Stern, the US leading climate negotiator for COP 15, came down to talk with us. She said that they recognized us from our previous actions (Clinton's Big Decision on Tar Sands and Todd Stern Needs High Fives) and that they’re happy we’re here. Another lady walking by let us know that she works closely with Stern’s office and that they know we’re here, they know our message, and they appreciate our work.
Even just this much would have made it feel worth it to me, but then the press started to arrive. We staged an informational interview about climate refugees for CNN, cleanskies.tvnews, and Local Channel 9, who covered our entire action with three huge cameras on tripods. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of coverage comes out of that; I really hope this issue gets some of the recognition it deserves.
Please keep following us on twitter @actionfactorydc and watching our blog for updates, because we’ll be here all night. As one passer-by advised us, we’re sticking around and not cutting them any slack!
Secretary Clinton, be a leader! Recognize and protect climate refugees at COP15.