The next action President Obama should take for the climate

CREDO action
Tell President Obama: Reject Keystone XL and apply the climate test to all federal decisions.

Sign the petition to President Obama:
This is a make or break moment for your climate legacy. Serious progress against climate change requires consistent action, not just words. Immediately reject the Keystone XL pipeline and apply your climate test to all federal decisions on fossil fuel projects - whether for domestic use or export.

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Dear 5849376,

The surprise announcement of a major climate agreement between the U.S. and China is good news.1 Most notably, it represents a major step forward for China, which has, for the first time, committed to a timeframe for reducing emissions – a pledge they can likely achieve.

But whether it amounts to real progress in the U.S. or merely a cynical accounting trick all comes down to what President Obama does next, and what we push him to do.

Simply put: If the president continues policies designed to unearth and export to the rest of the world massive amounts of coal, fracked gas and Canadian tar sands crude, then his commitment to reducing U.S. emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 amounts to little more than an empty talking point.2

The first big test he's going to have to face is on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Endangered Senator Mary Landrieu is trying to push a vote in the Senate next week, and when Republicans take the reins in January, they'll force the point. So President Obama will soon have to make a decision after four years of delays and avoidance.

This is a make-or-break moment for the president's legacy on climate. And if he's serious, we need consistent actions, not just words; starting with Keystone XL, and applying the same climate test that Keystone XL so clearly fails to all federal decision-making on fossil fuel projects, whether they are for domestic use or for export.

Tell President Obama: Immediately reject Keystone XL, AND apply the climate test you set for it to ALL federal decision making on fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

When Republicans take control of the Senate, they will still lack the votes to override President Obama's veto.

Keystone XL remains 100% his call. It is 100% clear that the project flunks the climate test that the president set for approval.3 (Even the administration's flawed and corrupt analysis says it increases climate emissions.4) And we must be 100% prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure he rejects – including our continued commitment to unleashing massive distributed civil disobedience through the Pledge of Resistance.5

But while Keystone XL is the biggest project proposed in the U.S. to facilitate the detonation of the "game over for the climate" Canadian tar sands carbon bomb, it is not the only one.

Even as it supposedly considers the climate test for Keystone XL, the State Department is secretly allowing Canadian pipeline company Enbridge to move forward on an illegal and unpermitted expansion of its Clipper pipeline that would be more than half as big as Keystone XL – with no environmental review whatsoever!6

CREDO Activists have submitted more than 100,000 comments opposing the project. And on Tuesday, environmental groups filed suit to stop the State Department's illegal approval of the Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion.7

For a president genuinely concerned about climate change, it would simply make no sense to consider the climate impacts of one project while ignoring those same impacts for thousands of other projects – from pipelines, to drilling permits, to coal and gas export terminals. And it would be especially incoherent to do so while bragging about his commitment to greater emissions reductions.

If the president is serious, he must apply the climate test to all federal decisions on fossil fuel infrastructure projects, starting now. Please sign the petition now.

While his new deal with China represents an increase from the president's previous goal of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, it is far from ambitious. The E.U., by comparison, has committed to a 40% reduction from the more significant 1990 levels, in the same time period.

The White House says we can meet the new goal with the rules already proposed and on the books, most notably the president's power plant carbon rule – which we have criticized for not being nearly big enough.

But there's a real disconnect that President Obama must resolve between his stated goals and his administration's decision on new fossil fuel projects. In its evaluation of the impacts of Keystone XL, for example, the State Department did not even consider a scenario in which the administration achieved its 2020 climate goal. In every scenario, the State Department assumed we fail!8

If we're objectively reviewing the president's actions, it looks like he's playing to fail, too. He sped through approval of the southern segment of Keystone XL to the Gulf Coast. He's allowing the massive expansion of the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline. He's encouraged massive coal mining, mostly for export. He's opened new coastal areas for offshore drilling, and fast-tracked approval of natural gas export facilities, ensuring an increased demand for fracked gas. As Bill McKibben wrote yesterday: "If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder."

The White House and President Obama may be able to rectify on paper approvals of massive projects increasing the U.S. contribution to global CO2 emissions with some narrower calculations allowing the president to claim impressive-sounding reductions in U.S. emissions. But in atmospheric and climate terms, it's meaningless.

So we applaud this agreement, but it's up to the president to make it count for more than numbers on a page. And it's up to us to push him. The president has shown in his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, and in bold announcement this week on protecting our free and open internet, that he knows how to play to win. Now it's time for him to play to win the fight against climate change - with more than just words. And he can start by rejecting Keystone XL and applying his climate test to all federal decision making.

Sign the petition to President Obama now.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. "The World Has Waited for the U.S. and China to Take Action on Climate Change. They Just Did.," The New Republic, 11/12/14
2. "The Big Climate Deal: What It Is, and What It Isn't," Bill McKibben, 11/12/14
3. "Obama Will Approve Keystone Only If It 'Does Not Significantly Exacerbate' Carbon Pollution ," Think Progress, 6/25/13
4. "Keystone XL Will Fail Obama's Climate Test If Plunge in Oil Prices Persists," Inside Climate, 10/28/14
5. "The Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance,"
6. "Second Canadian Company Completing Tar-Sands Pipeline In the U.S.," Washington Spectator, 11/11/14
7. "Activist groups sue over border pipeline," Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/12/14
8. "Kerry's State Department Ignored Obama's Climate Action Plan," Oil Change International, 2/17/14

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