Alberta tar sands oil and North Dakota light shale oil flows into the same markets, have access to the same refineries, and rely on the same pipelines and railroads to get them to the same customers. So it was never terribly plausible that Keystone would be good for the U.S. -- it was designed to make Canadian oil more competitive in global markets.
Tar-sands supporters in Congress will find it hard to tune out the fossil-fuel interests that want to see Canada's oil sands mined to the utmost. After all, the biggest foreign lease holder in Canada's oil sands is none other than the Koch brothers. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now it's up to President Obama to do the right thing.
The key to breaking the climate and energy policy logjam in Washington, D.C., Naomi Klein contends in This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, is the building of a powerful social movement. Citizens can then put leaders into office who are willing to take decisive action to protect the climate.
Polluters are fighting hard to get Keystone approved. The oil and gas industry pumped $53.1 million into last year's congressional campaigns--87 percent of which went to Republican candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raked in $608,000 from the industry for his 2014 campaign, and now he is putting Keystone XL at the heart of his big polluter agenda. But this isn't just a battle over industry influence. This is a choice about the kind of nation we want to live in. Do we want to live in a country where expert reviews don't matter and industry profits trump our families' health? Do we want to lock ourselves into a fuel that generates 17 percent more climate change pollution than crude oil and makes our children more vulnerable to extreme weather? Or do we want something better?
A new and genuine, if inadequate, global climate architecture has been teed up for next year in Paris. But whether Paris serves as the foundation for steadily more ambitious climate progress or is the marker of the reality that that world will not break the back of fossil-fuel dominance is going to be determined by how the world community reacts to five new realities.