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Michael Kieschnick

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Dirty Oil Lost Today But the Keystone XL War Goes On

Posted: 01/18/12 04:52 PM ET

The Keystone XL pipeline -- designed to bring filthy tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas so that oil companies can profit by selling the oil to China -- was dealt a severe setback today when President Obama said no to an election year blackmail threat by the American Petroleum Institute and its lackeys in Congress.

For those new to the story, this is the pipeline that House Republicans insisted get a quick up or down from the White House as their price for providing modest relief to unemployed Americans just before Christmas. It is also the pipeline whose chief sponsor thought that the normal corrupt ways of Washington would guarantee approval until an unlikely combination of environmentalists, ranchers and native peoples drew a rare line in the sand and would not budge.

After two years of increasing activism by CREDO members -- with over a million petitions, letters and calls and literally hundreds of our members arrested, President Obama today rejected the current route of the Keystone XL. This is outstanding news and cause for celebration.

However, President Obama went out of his way to invite the oil industry to consider another route rather than simply rejecting the catastrophic pipeline as wrong on the merits. The oil industry is relentless in its pursuit of a way to profitably extract the tar sands and sell it on the world market, and this invitation is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Today's procedural no is a victory purely for the activists who forced the President to take responsibility and reject naked political threats from the oil industry. But rejecting this route on a technicality means the fight continues.

We take seriously the conclusion of the Administration's own chief scientist that full burning of the tar sands is "game over" for global warming. Conceding the fight on global warming is not an option.

I have personally been arrested in order to stop this pipeline, along with thousands of others. We -- all of us -- will step up each time the industry tries again, meeting the industry and all their special interest representatives in Congress blow by blow.

CREDO waged one of the single largest activism campaigns of any organization in the anti-Keystone XL movement, delivering 1,188,106 petition signatures and public comments to the White House, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, House and Senate leadership, the Nebraska legislature, and TransCanada. CREDO members also made 36,360 calls to the White House, Obama for America, and House and Senate offices, organized a protest with more than 1,000 people outside of an Obama fundraiser in San Francisco, recruited hundreds of activists to attend public hearings along the proposed pipeline route, and submitted 156,615 public comments to the State Department as part of the formal hearing process on the project.

Clearly the White House has decided that in an election year caving to oil industry pressure and approving a pipeline to help a foreign oil company export dirty tar sands oil to China is not a winning strategy. What better villains in an election year than the owners of a leaky pipeline, incredibly profitable oil companies, and the insatiable Chinese economy?

We won this round. The fight continues.