Demonstrators gather during a protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline outside the White House on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Obama administration is on the brink of delaying the environmentally disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, according to Reuters. It will look for alternate routes for the pipeline because of serious environmental concerns in Nebraska, according to the report, and that delay could last twelve or eighteen months.
There are some caveats and warnings to the decision, but to be clear, it is a victory. The civil disobedience outside the White House this summer was the largest of its kind by the environmental movement in decades, and anti-Keystone protesters have followed President Obama virtually everywhere he’s gone in recent weeks. Clearly the administration has heard those calls, and fears a loss of support by the environmental movement—it’s inconceivable they would delay such a major project without that pressure.
Bill McKibben, leader of that civil disobedience movement, stressed today how important loud voices against the pipeline were:
It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. As late as last week the CBC reported that Transcanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted. A done deal has come spectacularly undone.The American people spoke loudly about climate change and the president responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in recent years so that makes this an important day.The president deserves thanks for making this call–it’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash.
The deepest thanks, however, go to you: to our indigenous peoples who began the fight, to the folks in Nebraska who rallied so fiercely, to the scientists who explained the stakes, to the environmental groups who joined with passionate common purpose, to the campuses that lit up with activity, to the faith leaders that raised a moral cry, to the labor leaders who recognized where our economic future lies, to the Occupy movement that helped galvanize revulsion at insider dealing, and most of all to the people in every state and province who built the movement that made this decision inevitable.