Actor and environmental activist Robert Redford. (photo: Contour/Getty Images)
The Keystone XL and tar sands expansion have no place in a clean energy future
I can understand why oil companies love tar sands. There is a lot of money to be made by strip mining and drilling the dirtiest oil on the planet.
The oil industry is lobbying hard for President Obama's approval to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross our border and move a river of tar sands to the Gulf Coast, where much of it will be shipped overseas. But why should the rest of us pay the price so that the oil companies can line their pockets?
Developing the Canadian tar sands is destroying our continent's great northern forest at a terrifying rate. It is producing enough carbon pollution to wreak havoc with our climate for decades to come. And the pipelines that carry this dirty fuel are a direct threat to our nation's own drinking water supplies.
If you ask me, tar sands oil is exactly the type of dirty oil we can no longer afford. It may be great for oil companies, but it is killing our planet. There is no energy security in that.
President Obama has promised to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if it will drive significantly more global warming pollution and more climate chaos. We have clear and compelling evidence that the Keystone XL fails the President's climate test. We already know that tar sands development causes more carbon pollution than conventional oil. And now a slew of experts from industry insiders to financial analysts all agree that the Keystone XL is the linchpin for Big Oil's plan to more than triple tar sands production over the next 20 years -- and the climate disruption that will follow.
The government of Canada surely knows this as well. Thus the recent reports that Canada is seeking approval of Keystone XL in exchange for a promise to make new climate commitments.
This fanciful trade-off is like embarking on a 20-year eating binge while promising to diet at the same time. Canada can't have it both ways. Its skyrocketing global warming emissions are a product of uncontrolled tar sands development. It will never get a handle on the former until it reins in the latter.
In this case, the way the Obama administration can help North America solve our climate problem is by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and calling on the Canadian government to cap tar sands production.
Instead of embarking on a tar sands binge and more climate chaos, the United States and Canada should be partnering on clean energy -- ramping up the high-tech energy solutions of today and tomorrow.
That's the saner environmental and economic choice for both of our countries. But we're not going to get it unless millions of us demand it. Please make your own voice heard at www.demandcleanpower.org. Watch my new video and send the President a clear message: reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and promote clean energy instead.