It’s fitting that today is the State Department’s deadline for public commenting on the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project as more than a million people have submitted their comments against a project one climate scientist has called “game over” for the planet.
"Earlier today, President Obama marked Earth Day by saying that 'nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.' Our movement has raised our voices by rallying, getting arrested, and submitting comments by the million to stop the pipeline—now it's time for the President to do his job and make the change," 350.org's Duncan Meisel told Campus Progress via Skype.
The State Department's most recent Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of the pipeline project has come under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that the State Department hid the fact that experts who helped draft the report had previously worked for TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline. The EIS also severely downplays the climate impact that the project would have by releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere from their source in Alberta, Canada.
The president denied the original construction permit for the northern segment of the pipeline in January of 2012, citing concerns about an arbitarily imposed deadline that Congress had tacked on to then payroll tax-cut extension legislation. Since then TransCanada split the pipeline into two segments and re-applied for a permit for the projects northern half after rerouting the pipeline in Nebraska.
President Obama announced in March of 2012 that he would expedite the project's southern leg, and since construction started—stretching across Texas and Oklahoma—it has faced constant interruption from groups like the Tar Sands Blockade and the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.
Just today activists with Great Plains Resistance organized a lock down at a Keystone XL construction site in Oklahoma. Alec Johnson, a 61-year old climate justice organizer from Ames, Iowa took direct action to defend the Red River and mark the close of the State Department’s public comment period for the pipeline as well as for Earth Day.
All in all, it makes for a resistance-charged kind of Earth Day.