Climate activist Bill McKibben expressed jubilation and gratitude on Friday after President Barack Obama announced his decision to deny TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline application. McKibben, an environmental activist, who has accused President Obama of being unable to say no to the fossil fuel industry in the past, sounded a different tone on Friday.
In a press release from 350.org, McKibben praised the president’s decision effusively:
President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate. That gives him new stature as an environmental leader, and it eloquently confirms the five years and millions of hours of work that people of every kind put into this fight. We’re still awfully sad about Keystone south and are well aware that the next president could undo all this, but this is a day of celebration.
Executive Director for 350.org, May Boeve stated:
This is a big win. President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate is nothing short of historic — and sets an important precedent that should send shock waves through the fossil fuel industry.
Just a few years ago, insiders and experts wrote us off and assured the world Keystone XL would be built by the end of 2011. Together, ranchers, tribal nations, and everyday people beat this project back, reminding the world that Big Oil isn’t invincible–and that organized people can win over organized money.
Clearly activists must continue to apply pressure on political leaders to consider the impact of their policies on our environment, but the once seemingly improbable demise of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrates that a focused and persistent movement can succeed even in the face of difficult odds. Barack Obama’s decision emboldens the forces that compelled him to act.
While Obama has not always won McKibben’s praise, the president’s decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline solidifies his legacy as a leader who responded to the concerns of the environmental movement and chose to act. The collapse of the Keystone XL pipeline project is a victory for not only those concerned about climate change, but also for anyone who values a people’s democracy over a government that serves only the interests of the corporate oligarchy. There is still much work to be done, but Bill McKibben is right — today should be a day of celebration.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.