, Newburyport, MA

February 26, 2013

Pipeline project will bring only harm

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Note: President Obama will decide soon whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for tar sands oil that is turning Alberta’s boreal forest into a waste land.

I understand that it was necessary for the president’s re-election to take an “all-of-the-above” stance on the interwoven issues of energy independence (we treasure independence), domestic fossil fuel production (made in USA sounds good), protection of our environment and the health of 300-plus million citizens (he did swear to “preserve, protect and defend”) and climate change (science is the foundation for some of our great achievements).

My heart overflowed with joy when President Obama was first elected. A half century ago, when as an undergraduate I was trying to lift up the dreams of an African American fifth-grader in the black ghetto of Hartford, Conn., I would not have believed I would ever see a black person like him be lifted up so high.

He has encouraged me to believe that We the people can make a difference in a nation that has slipped into a swamp of despair where the greedy side of human nature has drowned the goodness in us all, expressed with profit as being good, regardless of the harm it causes; where jobs are sacred even when they cause great harm, sometimes to the few who hold them.

This is our moment. In his inaugural and State of the Union speeches, he told us that climate change is real and that we must act in response to it — right away — as he says.

If the president would watch a 17-minute TED talk by photographer Garth Lenz, he would know what is the right decision to make about Canada’s tar sands oil:

There is no middle ground. We must fight or surrender. The president doesn’t seem like a quitter; I hope I’m not either. So with this Keystone XL pipeline that would encourage more greenhouse gases, more sea level rise, more drought, more storms, more destruction of our Earth — as our climate scientists warn — we must win this battle and he is our commander-in-chief.

We can do this together. President Obama must put aside all of the above and reject this ruinous Keystone XL pipeline – right now.

John Harwood