In January, President Obama denied a permit for the pipeline to run from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
McKibben told Stephen Colbert that following Saudi Arabia, the tar sands in Canada are the second biggest pool of carbon on Earth. "It was burning Saudia Arabia that raised the temperature of the planet one degree. If we, knowing what we now know about climate change, do the same thing with the second Saudi Arabia, we're not as wise as we like to think we are."
According to McKibben, the challenge in ending oil dependence is that "the financial power of the fossil fuel industry has been enough to keep science at bay."
Colbert jokingly argued, "they don't have any power, you killed the XL pipeline," to which McKibben warned, "the XL pipeline may be coming back."
McKibben was referring to an attempt by Senate Republicans to keep the Keystone XL pipeline proposal alive by introducing an amendment to a transportation bill. McKibben's 350.org and fellow members of the environmental movement quickly launched a 24 hour campaign to gather signatures from anti-Keystone XL activists and demand the Senate reject the pipeline proposal. While the initial goal was to gather 500,000 messages in 24 hours, McKibben announced on the show, "we blew by that half million mark after 6 hours."
350.org later announced they had sent 781,000 messages to the Senate in 24 hours.
The anti-Keystone XL movement has gained support from many celebrities, including Robert Redford, who wrote on HuffPost, "This U.S. Senate has to stop looking towards the past and move into the new century. If only some of these politicians showed the same level of passion for creating new markets around cleaner forms of energy, as they're showing for crippling a sitting president with a dirty, potentially highly dangerous, old-school Canadian tar sands pipeline."
On Tuesday, TransCanada pushed back its Keystone XL project schedule to 2015, maintaining that it still plans to build the line, according to Reuters.