THE BLOG

President Obama Lighting Fuse to Tar Sands 'Carbon Bomb' in Texas and Oklahoma Right Now

02/20/2013 01:58 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

In last week's State of the Union address, President Obama had strong words for Congress about the need to address the climate crisis:

But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will... I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

He then proceeded to undercut his own climate message by failing to denounce TransCanada's lethal Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and by calling for the development of even more fossil fuels as part of his "all-of-the-above" energy policy: "That's why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits."

Ending TransCanada's assault on Texas and Oklahoma is the first and easiest thing the president can do to show America he is serious about addressing a climate crisis spiraling out of control on his watch. It is time for Barack Obama to back up his words with action by taking the "executive actions" he mentioned last Tuesday night to halt construction of the southern (Oklahoma to Texas) leg of Keystone XL.

To date, most of the Keystone XL conversation has focused on the need for Obama to deny TransCanada's permit to build the northern leg of the pipeline. While this step is absolutely essential, there has been surprisingly little talk about the need to stop the actual construction of Keystone XL already underway in Texas and Oklahoma.

I realize it may be inconvenient for President Obama and his political allies, but facts are facts: last spring, the president made a special trip on Air Force One to the "Pipeline Crossroads of the World" to stand in a Cushing, Okla., pipe yard to call for fast-track approval of the southern leg of Keystone XL. Since that time, TransCanada has bullied its way to getting roughly half of the 485-mile southern leg built. By supporting completion of Keystone XL's southern leg -- which would facilitate the flow of toxic tar sands slurry from Alberta's minefields to Texas Gulf Coast refineries -- Obama is already lighting the tar sands "carbon bomb" fuse.

For anyone needing more convincing, take a look at these two photos of Keystone XL pipe recently laid in Texas. These stunning images, taken from inside the pipe, show daylight pouring in from improperly welded seams. I shudder to think how many miles of defective Keystone XL pipe quietly lurk, buried in the backyards of Texas and Oklahoma families, just waiting to spew their poisons into our precious soil and water. This latest discovery demands that construction of Keystone XL be immediately shut down in Texas and Oklahoma, with TransCanada required to exhume and reinspect every weld.

If We the People succeed in blocking the southern leg of Keystone XL, what chance does TransCanada really have of getting the northern leg built, let alone getting a presidential permit to try? Texas and Oklahoma are ground zero in this fight right now. It's time to focus our energies there and finish the job.