Talking points being circulated by Organizing for Action, President Barack Obama's former campaign arm that now operates as a nonprofit organization supporting the president's agenda, are warning volunteers over activists working in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a copy of the talking points provided to HuffPost.
The release of the memo comes after HuffPost reported Thursday that OFA is working to dampen passionate grassroots opposition to the pipeline. Keystone would move heavy crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The administration recently pushed back a timeline for making a decision on the pipeline to the end of 2013 or to 2014. Next week, the House will vote on the Northern Route Approval Act, H.R. 3, a bill to allow construction of the northern portion of the pipeline that stipulates no presidential permit is needed to begin working on the northern route.
The OFA talking points encourage volunteers to respect the current process around making decisions about the pipeline, comments that are in line with what OFA spokeswoman Katie Hogan told HuffPost Thursday.
"OFA was founded to support the president's agenda, an agenda a majority of the American people voted for in 2012," Hogan said. "It has been made clear since our first day as an organization that we support the president's plans from comprehensive immigration reform, to reducing gun violence to climate change, including the completion of the state department review. Just this week OFA held almost 100 action planning sessions on climate change in communities across the country to talk about the action that can be taken right now to call out members of Congress for denying that climate change is a man-made problem."
The OFA activist who provided the talking points to HuffPost also volunteers for environmental advocacy organization 350.org, which has made stopping the construction of the Keystone XL the centerpiece of its advocacy campaign. The activist procured them upon attending one of OFA's action planning sessions on Wednesday night.
"I think a lot of people are confused about why the president is going after [climate] deniers," said 350.org spokesperson Daniel Kessler when contacted by HuffPost. "They don't quite understand the strategy. It's sort of equivalent during the health care debate to going after people who were calling the president a communist. It's like, what's the point?"
When asked about the talking points, an OFA official said the "fact sheets are regularly provided for our supporters to support our events."
OFA's talking points on Keystone are below.
Keystone Talking Points
Volunteers from Credo Action or other organizations may attend your planning session and want to demand that we work on the Keystone XL pipeline. Our mission is to change the conversation on climate and build support for action on climate change. We understand that there are groups and individuals who would like to work to influence the President and the State Department on a variety of environmental decisions, but OFA’s plan is to do great organizing on building clean energy locally, turning up the heat on Congress and helping individuals and communities switch to clean energy. They are more than welcome to work with those groups, but we encourage all volunteers to be part of our work and the mission of changing the conversation on climate!
● Organizing for Action’s mission is to support President Obama’s agenda. The Keystone XL pipeline is still under review, and OFA supports and respects the process as it is currently underway.
● Our strategy is to work across the country at the grassroots level with members of congress to ensure supporters of climate action are on the front lines of this conversation, exposing deniers as extreme and dangerous, and ask those in the middle “what’s your plan?”
● OFA will also work with local communities to switch to clean energy and promote the transition to renewable energy in cities and states nationwide.
● If people believe that Keystone XL is the primary fight to be engaged in, there are many groups who have taken a position, and we are happy to make suggestions about who volunteers might work with on that or other issues
This story was updated with a comment from the OFA.