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5 Power Brokers Who'll Determine the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline and Our Future

These are the people who may be holding our future in their hands.

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With John Kerry being confirmed as our next Secretary of State, the ball is officially in his court now on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline and our climate. No doubt there will be a lot of political pressure on him, although the ultimate decision will come down to Obama. Which way will Kerry advocate for? 

Climate Progress’s Joe Romm is optimistic,  writing, “I do not think that a man who had dedicated his Senate career to fighting catastrophic climate change would start his term as Secretary approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world. Keystone is a gateway to a huge pool of carbon-intensive fuel most of which must be left in the ground — along with most of the world’s coal and unconventional oil and gas – if humanity is to avoid multiple devastating impacts that may be beyond adaptation.”

In Kerry’s own words, here is what he said at his confirmation hearing:

The solution to climate change is energy policy. And, the opportunities of energy policy so vastly outweigh the downsides that you’re expressing concerns about … You want to do business and do it well in America, you have to get into the energy race … I would respectfully say to you that climate change is not something to be feared in response to—the steps to respond to—it’s to be feared if we don’t … I will be a passionate advocate on this not based on ideology but based on facts and science, and I hope to sit with all of you and convince you that this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and we better go after it.

3. President Barack Obama

A man needs to be judged by his actions and not just his words, and yet many folks are clinging to Obama’s words about climate change during his recent inaugural address, hoping they give away his hand when it comes to Keystone. The President said:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

The next few months will be a clear indication of just how the Obama administration intends to lead on this issue. The last four years have been undeniably disappointing on that front. The decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will set the stage for whether or not the administration will bend to Big Oil or whether Obama can make the case that protecting the environment and creating jobs can actually go hand-in-hand and does not need to include the dirtiest form of fossil fuels known to humankind.

4. We, the People

Despite all the talk about how our political leaders may come down on this issue, there is a still a not-so-little matter of the people to contend with. A coalition of environmental groups has been working to raise awareness about the environmental hazards of the pipeline and tar sands mining, and to exert public pressure on the top decision-makers. 

In the latest effort, the  Forward on Climate Rally is planned in Washington DC at noon on February 17 — President’s Day. Organizers say it will be the largest climate rally in history. 350.org, one of the groups organizing the rally  posted:

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