Sojourners’ Statement On Climate Victory (and Keystone XL Pipeline Defeat)

Rev. Mari Castallanos protesting Keystone XL pipeline.

As we celebrate the final defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline, I’ll repost some of the spiritual power that led to this day.

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[Originally published on Jan. 18, 2012]

Press statement from Sojourners on Obama Administration Rejection of Keystone XL Pipeline

Christian and Other Faith Leaders Praise Administration’s Decision to Put Creation over Narrow Corporate Interests

Washington DC, January 18 – Christian and other faith leaders today welcomed the news that the Obama administration has rejected the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial project, which would have run for 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, would have been a backward step in the administration’s professed commitment to investing in clean and renewable energy sources.

During August 2011, over 1,200 peaceful protestors were arrested as part of a sustained campaign to demonstrate against the pipeline project. In November 2011, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, along with other Sojourners staff members and 15,000 members of the public, encircled the White House to urge President Obama to stop the project.

Sojourners welcomed the president’s decision in November to postpone the permitting of the pipeline until an environmental impact report was completed. While this new decision is a clear step forward, TransCanada has the opportunity to reapply for the permit along a different route and leaders have pledged to remain vigilant and watch the issue closely.

Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners associate editor and organizer for the Tar Sands religious witness, said:

“President Obama campaigned as a man who understood the crisis of global warming. He told us that he understood that climate change kills the poor first, as we’ve seen recently with the typhoon in the Philippines. Today he’s demonstrated that he can actually take substantive steps in leading America to meet that challenge. He pushed back on “too big to fail” oil and energy companies. He pushed back on foolish partisan bullying. He stood up as the leader that many elected him to be.

“The fight doesn’t end here – because abusive corporations don’t stop just because their permit was denied—but today we know that our president can also be our leader. We look forward to a future of job production that any American will be proud to be involved in—jobs in an industry that is producing clean energy and protects rather than poisons God’s good earth.”

Dr. James E. Hansen, Head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said:

“A slowdown in exploitation of the tar sands would be welcome news, but we have not yet made governments understand and communicate to the public that we cannot burn the unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands and tar shale, without destroying the future well-being of young people and other species on the planet.

The climate science is crystal clear. Yet governments continue to resist the implications. We must collect a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions from fossil fuel companies and distribute the money, 100 percent, to the public. That will stimulate the economy, innovation, energy efficiency, and clean energies, creating far more jobs than the meager number associated with pipelines and coal mines, while moving us to a clean energy future.”

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, speaking on behalf of the Franciscan Action Network, said:

“We applaud the administration for standing up to the narrow corporate big oil interests and doing the right thing for America. This is a moral victory that advances the cause of justice, respect for life, and the common good of God’s creation. As followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we call on all people of good will to work even harder in advocating for government policies that would protect our environment, the poor and the future generations and, at the same time, invest in creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs.”

Kathy McNeely, Interim Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, said:

“It’s a moral outage that the XL Pipeline decision – so important to the U.S.’s heartland as we know it — is caught up in a political battle. We will continue to work with other faith based groups and redouble our efforts to protect God’s creation from the threat of unsustainable resource extraction and pipeline spills.”

Joanna Hanes-Lahr, Activist and Grandmother, said:

“On behalf of my 7 1/2 grandchildren, I salute our President for his understanding of what is at stake in developing tar sands: unleashing unpredictable climate change/ game over. We who got arrested to call attention to the risk did understand but felt the power of the oil industry and just could not let this go unchallenged.”

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Sojourners’ mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.netand www.GodsPolitics.com.

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