02/03/2014 04:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Americans Rally to Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline

The more people learn about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline the worse it looks.

That's what thousands of Americans in nearly 300 places across the country stood up to say Monday night, in a national vigil that sent a clear message to President Obama: say no to the tar sands pipeline.

Vigils in nearly every state linked Americans from Seattle to Miami, New York to San Diego. We lit candles in front of the White House in Washington, the State Capitol in Oklahoma City and the Governor's Mansion in Lincoln, Neb.

And we'll keep right on at it, standing up for our country, standing up for our future, standing up for our children.

Photo credit: NRDC

For months now, we've gotten an earful of corporate PR about the proposed tar sands pipeline. Now we have the facts.

A State Department review that came out Friday proves, beyond doubt, that the tar sands pipeline would mean a dirtier, more dangerous future for our children.

It would mean heartland communities, ranches and farms needlessly put at risk. It would mean potential blowouts, leaks and contamination for essential waterways, aquifers and wells -- thousands of them.

And it would mean more of the carbon pollution that's driving climate change -- as much of this pollution as putting up to 5.7 million extra cars on the road; as much as building up to 7.8 coal-fired power plants.

That's not in our national interest -- it's a national nightmare. It needs to be denied.

That's why we're standing up across this country to demand the clean power future our children deserve.

Part of that future means saying no to the tar sands pipeline.

It means saying no to the destruction of Canada's boreal forest, one of the last truly wild places left on Earth, where tar sands crude is mined.

It means saying no to a plan to pipe this crude -- some of the dirtiest oil on the planet - through the breadbasket of America so it can be refined on our Gulf Coast and shipped overseas.

And it means saying no to dirty oil production that would dramatically increase the carbon pollution that's driving climate change, the central environmental challenge of our time.

This global scourge is imposing large and growing costs on our country, as our people struggle with storms, wildfires, drought, flood, heat and other disasters from extreme weather made worse by climate change.

It is threatening our health, contributing to heat-related deaths and illness and increasing the incidence and severity of respiratory ailments like asthma. And it is imperiling our children's future, as sea levels rise, extreme weather ramps up and arable farmland dries to dust.

That's why President Obama has promised not to green-light a project that would make all of this worse by increasing carbon pollution.

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would do just that, the State Department reported Friday in its final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed project.

The reason: It generates 17 percent more carbon pollution, on average, to produce, refine and burn the fuel from tar sands crude as from traditional crude oil.

That's huge. The Keystone XL pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of this stuff each day, so the carbon pollution would pile up fast.

When it comes to climate changing pollution, this pipeline would be like adding up to 5.7 million cars to the road. That's as many as there are in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

This project fails the president's climate test. It fails the test of our children's future. It's time to put a fork in it.

In the months ahead, President Obama must decide whether to grant the Canadian company Trans-Canada permission to build the tar sands pipeline. Before him is one question: is the dirty-fuels pipeline in our national interest?

It is not, and the State Department review proves it.

There's a better way forward for out country.

Instead of hazarding our future on the dirty fuels of the past, let's invest in clean power that can drive this country forward. Let's cut energy waste, make our economy the world's most efficient and give our workers a leg up in the global marketplace. And let's promote the use of wind, solar and other kinds of clean, safe renewable energy made right here in the USA.

The tar sands pipeline has never been about our national interest.

It's always been about one thing, and one thing only: big profits for big oil.

That's why we're telling President Obama to say no to the tar sands pipeline and yes to the clean power future this country deserves.