Obama: Keystone pipeline might not be built if significantly adds greenhouse gases (video)

President Obama’s climate change speech at Georgetown, taking place as I’m writing this, has included a call for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline not to be approved unless it can be shown not to increase greenhouse gases.  Or perhaps not.


Here’s what Obama said, video below:

“I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so will be in our nation’s interest.  And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

The President’s statement seemed to hedge a bit.  He said the net effects will be critical in determining whether they go forward.  He also said the test was whether Keystone “significantly exacerbates” the C02 problem, not whether it adds to atmospheric CO2.  That’s not really a call for the pipeline to be carbon neutral.

While the State Department has already made the specious claim that the project should go ahead, and that the Keystone XL Pipeline will not harm the environment, some progressive activists are telling me that the President’s statement is a big deal.  They’re saying that State’s review of Keystone’s environmental impact will most likely need to be redone, and that this time it will include the views of the EPA, which is not thrilled with Keystone.

So, supposedly, this isn’t nothing. Still, I’d have preferred that the President not hedged on what the standard is going to be for approval.

Here’s the snippet of President Obama addressing the Keystone XL Pipeline today at Georgetown:

Referring back to Gaius’ extensive coverage of this issue, a few points should be kept in mind:

1. The Keystone Pipeline will be carrying arsenic, among other nasty things.

2. Atmospheric CO2 is at its highest level in 3 million years, 400ppm.

3. On global warming, we are halfway to an extinction event.

4. Keystone alone could add at least 150ppm more CO2 to the air.

5. No one trusts the State Department’s analysis of Keystone’s environmental impact. As Brad Johnson showed over at Grist, State’s Keystone Pipeline impact analysis wasn’t written by the State Department, it was written by “a private company in the pay of the pipeline’s owner.”

Here’s the text of President Obama’s entire climate change speech at Georgetown today:


Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.
1:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you, Georgetown! Thank you so much. Everybody, please be seated. And my first announcement today is that you should all take off your jackets. (Laughter.) I’m going to do the same. (Applause.) It’s not that sexy, now. (Laughter.)

It is good to be back on campus, and it is a great privilege to speak from the steps of this historic hall that welcomed Presidents going back to George Washington.

I want to thank your president, President DeGioia, who’s here today. (Applause.) I want to thank him for hosting us. I want to thank the many members of my Cabinet and my administration. I want to thank Leader Pelosi and the members of Congress who are here. We are very grateful for their support.

And I want to say thank you to the Hoyas in the house for having me back. (Applause.) It was important for me to speak directly to your generation, because the decisions that we make now and in the years ahead will have a profound impact on the world that all of you inherit.

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 did a live broadcast from lunar orbit. So Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders — the first humans to orbit the moon -– described what they saw, and they read Scripture from the Book of Genesis to the rest of us back here. And later that night, they took a photo that would change the way we see and think about our world.

It was an image of Earth -– beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon.

And while the sight of our planet from space might seem routine today, imagine what it looked like to those of us seeing our home, our planet, for the first time. Imagine what it looked like to children like me. Even the astronauts were amazed. “It makes you realize,” Lovell would say, “just what you have back there on Earth.”

And around the same time we began exploring space, scientists were studying changes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere. Now, scientists had known since the 1800s that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat, and that burning fossil fuels release those gases into the air. That wasn’t news. But in the late 1950s, the National Weather Service began measuring the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, with the worry that rising levels might someday disrupt the fragile balance that makes our planet so hospitable. And what they’ve found, year after year, is that the levels of carbon pollution in our atmosphere have increased dramatically.

That science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.

The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years. Last year, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would. These are facts.

Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change. Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times. But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet. The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago — that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.

The potential impacts go beyond rising sea levels. Here at home, 2012 was the warmest year in our history. Midwest farms were parched by the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and then drenched by the wettest spring on record. Western wildfires scorched an area larger than the state of Maryland. Just last week, a heat wave in Alaska shot temperatures into the 90s.

And we know that the costs of these events can be measured in lost lives and lost livelihoods, lost homes, lost businesses, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. In fact, those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it — they’re busy dealing with it. Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons, and states and federal governments have to figure out how to budget for that. I had to sit on a meeting with the Department of Interior and Agriculture and some of the rest of my team just to figure out how we’re going to pay for more and more expensive fire seasons.

Farmers see crops wilted one year, washed away the next; and the higher food prices get passed on to you, the American consumer. Mountain communities worry about what smaller snowpacks will mean for tourism — and then, families at the bottom of the mountains wonder what it will mean for their drinking water. Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in insurance premiums, state and local taxes, and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief.

So the question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science — of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements — has put all that to rest. Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest. They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.

So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.

As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. (Applause.)

I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why, today, I’m announcing a new national climate action plan, and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader — a global leader — in the fight against climate change.

This plan builds on progress that we’ve already made. Last year, I took office — the year that I took office, my administration pledged to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from their 2005 levels by the end of this decade. And we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work. We doubled the electricity we generated from wind and the sun. We doubled the mileage our cars will get on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. (Applause.)

Here at Georgetown, I unveiled my strategy for a secure energy future. And thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses, we’re starting to produce much more of our own energy. We’re building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades — in Georgia and South Carolina. For the first time in 18 years, America is poised to produce more of our own oil than we buy from other nations. And today, we produce more natural gas than anybody else. So we’re producing energy. And these advances have grown our economy, they’ve created new jobs, they can’t be shipped overseas — and, by the way, they’ve also helped drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America. (Applause.)

So it’s a good start. But the reason we’re all here in the heat today is because we know we’ve got more to do.

In my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to come up with a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one that Republican and Democratic senators worked on together a few years ago. And I still want to see that happen. I’m willing to work with anyone to make that happen.

But this is a challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock. It demands our attention now. And this is my plan to meet it — a plan to cut carbon pollution; a plan to protect our country from the impacts of climate change; and a plan to lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate. (Applause.)

This plan begins with cutting carbon pollution by changing the way we use energy — using less dirty energy, using more clean energy, wasting less energy throughout our economy.

Forty-three years ago, Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act of 1970. (Applause.) It was a good law. The reasoning behind it was simple: New technology can protect our health by protecting the air we breathe from harmful pollution. And that law passed the Senate unanimously. Think about that — it passed the Senate unanimously. It passed the House of Representatives 375 to 1. I don’t know who the one guy was — I haven’t looked that up. (Laughter.) You can barely get that many votes to name a post office these days. (Laughter.)

It was signed into law by a Republican President. It was later strengthened by another Republican President. This used to be a bipartisan issue.

Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants covered by that same Clean Air Act. (Applause.) And they required the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, to determine whether they’re a threat to our health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA determined that they are a threat to both our health and our welfare in many different ways — from dirtier air to more common heat waves — and, therefore, subject to regulation.

Today, about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from our power plants. But here’s the thing: Right now, there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into our air. None. Zero. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop. (Applause.)

So today, for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. (Applause.)

I’m also directing the EPA to develop these standards in an open and transparent way, to provide flexibility to different states with different needs, and build on the leadership that many states, and cities, and companies have already shown. In fact, many power companies have already begun modernizing their plants, and creating new jobs in the process. Others have shifted to burning cleaner natural gas instead of dirtier fuel sources.

Nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution. More than 25 have set energy efficiency targets. More than 35 have set renewable energy targets. Over 1,000 mayors have signed agreements to cut carbon pollution. So the idea of setting higher pollution standards for our power plants is not new. It’s just time for Washington to catch up with the rest of the country. And that’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Now, what you’ll hear from the special interests and their allies in Congress is that this will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it. And the reason I know you’ll hear those things is because that’s what they said every time America sets clear rules and better standards for our air and our water and our children’s health. And every time, they’ve been wrong.

For example, in 1970, when we decided through the Clean Air Act to do something about the smog that was choking our cities — and, by the way, most young people here aren’t old enough to remember what it was like, but when I was going to school in 1979-1980 in Los Angeles, there were days where folks couldn’t go outside. And the sunsets were spectacular because of all the pollution in the air.

But at the time when we passed the Clean Air Act to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doomsayers were saying new pollution standards will decimate the auto industry. Guess what — it didn’t happen. Our air got cleaner.

In 1990, when we decided to do something about acid rain, they said our electricity bills would go up, the lights would go off, businesses around the country would suffer — I quote — “a quiet death.” None of it happened, except we cut acid rain dramatically.

See, the problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity. (Applause.) These critics seem to think that when we ask our businesses to innovate and reduce pollution and lead, they can’t or they won’t do it. They’ll just kind of give up and quit. But in America, we know that’s not true. Look at our history.

When we restricted cancer-causing chemicals in plastics and leaded fuel in our cars, it didn’t end the plastics industry or the oil industry. American chemists came up with better substitutes. When we phased out CFCs — the gases that were depleting the ozone layer — it didn’t kill off refrigerators or air-conditioners or deodorant. (Laughter.) American workers and businesses figured out how to do it better without harming the environment as much.

The fuel standards that we put in place just a few years ago didn’t cripple automakers. The American auto industry retooled, and today, our automakers are selling the best cars in the world at a faster rate than they have in five years — with more hybrid, more plug-in, more fuel-efficient cars for everybody to choose from. (Applause.)

So the point is, if you look at our history, don’t bet against American industry. Don’t bet against American workers. Don’t tell folks that we have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy. (Applause.)

The old rules may say we can’t protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time, but in America, we’ve always used new technologies — we’ve used science; we’ve used research and development and discovery to make the old rules obsolete.

Today, we use more clean energy –- more renewables and natural gas -– which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what — our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.

So, obviously, we can figure this out. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. We’ve got to look after our children; we have to look after our future; and we have to grow the economy and create jobs. We can do all of that as long as we don’t fear the future; instead we seize it. (Applause.)

And, by the way, don’t take my word for it — recently, more than 500 businesses, including giants like GM and Nike, issued a Climate Declaration, calling action on climate change “one of the great economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Walmart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy. (Applause.) Walmart deserves a cheer for that. (Applause.) But think about it. Would the biggest company, the biggest retailer in America — would they really do that if it weren’t good for business, if it weren’t good for their shareholders?

A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that engine. I want America to build that future — right here in the United States of America. That’s our task. (Applause.)

Now, one thing I want to make sure everybody understands — this does not mean that we’re going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels. Our economy wouldn’t run very well if it did. And transitioning to a clean energy economy takes time. But when the doomsayers trot out the old warnings that these ambitions will somehow hurt our energy supply, just remind them that America produced more oil than we have in 15 years. What is true is that we can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face. (Applause.) That’s not possible.

I put forward in the past an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil. And, by the way, it’s certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline. (Applause.)

Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. (Applause.) The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.

Now, even as we’re producing more domestic oil, we’re also producing more cleaner-burning natural gas than any other country on Earth. And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.

Federally supported technology has helped our businesses drill more effectively and extract more gas. And now, we’ll keep working with the industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we’re not seeing methane emissions, and to put people to work modernizing our natural gas infrastructure so that we can power more homes and businesses with cleaner energy.

The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs. It’s lowering many families’ heat and power bills. And it’s the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution even as our businesses work to develop and then deploy more of the technology required for the even cleaner energy economy of the future.

And that brings me to the second way that we’re going to reduce carbon pollution — by using more clean energy. Over the past four years, we’ve doubled the electricity that we generate from zero-carbon wind and solar power. (Applause.) And that means jobs — jobs manufacturing the wind turbines that now generate enough electricity to power nearly 15 million homes; jobs installing the solar panels that now generate more than four times the power at less cost than just a few years ago.

I know some Republicans in Washington dismiss these jobs, but those who do need to call home — because 75 percent of all wind energy in this country is generated in Republican districts. (Laughter.) And that may explain why last year, Republican governors in Kansas and Oklahoma and Iowa — Iowa, by the way, a state that harnesses almost 25 percent of its electricity from the wind — helped us in the fight to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers. (Applause.) Tens of thousands good jobs were on the line, and those jobs were worth the fight.

And countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean energy. I believe Americans build things better than anybody else. I want America to win that race, but we can’t win it if we’re not in it. (Applause.)

So the plan I’m announcing today will help us double again our energy from wind and sun. Today, I’m directing the Interior Department to green light enough private, renewable energy capacity on public lands to power more than 6 million homes by 2020. (Applause.)

The Department of Defense — the biggest energy consumer in America — will install 3 gigawatts of renewable power on its bases, generating about the same amount of electricity each year as you’d get from burning 3 million tons of coal. (Applause.)

And because billions of your tax dollars continue to still subsidize some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, my budget once again calls for Congress to end the tax breaks for big oil companies, and invest in the clean-energy companies that will fuel our future. (Applause.)

Now, the third way to reduce carbon pollution is to waste less energy — in our cars, our homes, our businesses. The fuel standards we set over the past few years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That means you’ll have to fill up half as often; we’ll all reduce carbon pollution. And we built on that success by setting the first-ever standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses and vans. And in the coming months, we’ll partner with truck makers to do it again for the next generation of vehicles.

Meanwhile, the energy we use in our homes and our businesses and our factories, our schools, our hospitals — that’s responsible for about one-third of our greenhouse gases. The good news is simple upgrades don’t just cut that pollution; they put people to work — manufacturing and installing smarter lights and windows and sensors and appliances. And the savings show up in our electricity bills every month — forever. That’s why we’ve set new energy standards for appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. And today, our businesses are building better ones that will also cut carbon pollution and cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.

That means, by the way, that our federal government also has to lead by example. I’m proud that federal agencies have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent since I took office. But we can do even better than that. So today, I’m setting a new goal: Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years. We are going to set that goal. (Applause.)

We’ll also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments. And by the end of the next decade, these combined efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings will reduce carbon pollution by at least three billion tons. That’s an amount equal to what our entire energy sector emits in nearly half a year.

So I know these standards don’t sound all that sexy, but think of it this way: That’s the equivalent of planting 7.6 billion trees and letting them grow for 10 years — all while doing the dishes. It is a great deal and we need to be doing it. (Applause.)

So using less dirty energy, transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, wasting less energy through our economy is where we need to go. And this plan will get us there faster. But I want to be honest — this will not get us there overnight. The hard truth is carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades now. And even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come. The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe, based on the science. It’s like tapping the brakes of a car before you come to a complete stop and then can shift into reverse. It’s going to take time for carbon emissions to stabilize.

So in the meantime, we’re going to need to get prepared. And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid. States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready. Miami Beach is hardening its water supply against seeping saltwater. We’re partnering with the state of Florida to restore Florida’s natural clean water delivery system — the Everglades.
The overwhelmingly Republican legislature in Texas voted to spend money on a new water development bank as a long-running drought cost jobs and forced a town to truck in water from the outside.

New York City is fortifying its 520 miles of coastline as an insurance policy against more frequent and costly storms. And what we’ve learned from Hurricane Sandy and other disasters is that we’ve got to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure that can protect our homes and businesses, and withstand more powerful storms. That means stronger seawalls, natural barriers, hardened power grids, hardened water systems, hardened fuel supplies.

So the budget I sent Congress includes funding to support communities that build these projects, and this plan directs federal agencies to make sure that any new project funded with taxpayer dollars is built to withstand increased flood risks.

And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers. And we’ll also open our climate data and NASA climate imagery to the public, to make sure that cities and states assess risk under different climate scenarios, so that we don’t waste money building structures that don’t withstand the next storm.

So that’s what my administration will do to support the work already underway across America, not only to cut carbon pollution, but also to protect ourselves from climate change. But as I think everybody here understands, no nation can solve this challenge alone — not even one as powerful as ours. And that’s why the final part of our plan calls on America to lead — lead international efforts to combat a changing climate. (Applause.)

And make no mistake — the world still looks to America to lead. When I spoke to young people in Turkey a few years ago, the first question I got wasn’t about the challenges that part of the world faces. It was about the climate challenge that we all face, and America’s role in addressing it. And it was a fair question, because as the world’s largest economy and second-largest carbon emitter, as a country with unsurpassed ability to drive innovation and scientific breakthroughs, as the country that people around the world continue to look to in times of crisis, we’ve got a vital role to play. We can’t stand on the sidelines. We’ve got a unique responsibility. And the steps that I’ve outlined today prove that we’re willing to meet that responsibility.

Though all America’s carbon pollution fell last year, global carbon pollution rose to a record high. That’s a problem. Developing countries are using more and more energy, and tens of millions of people entering a global middle class naturally want to buy cars and air-conditioners of their own, just like us. Can’t blame them for that. And when you have conversations with poor countries, they’ll say, well, you went through these stages of development — why can’t we?

But what we also have to recognize is these same countries are also more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than we are. They don’t just have as much to lose, they probably have more to lose.

Developing nations with some of the fastest-rising levels of carbon pollution are going to have to take action to meet this challenge alongside us. They’re watching what we do, but we’ve got to make sure that they’re stepping up to the plate as well. We compete for business with them, but we also share a planet. And we have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’re going to suffer the consequences — together.

So to help more countries transitioning to cleaner sources of energy and to help them do it faster, we’re going to partner with our private sector to apply private sector technological know-how in countries that transition to natural gas. We’ve mobilized billions of dollars in private capital for clean energy projects around the world.

Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas — (applause) — unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.

And I’m directing my administration to launch negotiations toward global free trade in environmental goods and services, including clean energy technology, to help more countries skip past the dirty phase of development and join a global low-carbon economy. They don’t have to repeat all the same mistakes that we made. (Applause.)

We’ve also intensified our climate cooperation with major emerging economies like India and Brazil, and China — the world’s largest emitter. So, for example, earlier this month, President Xi of China and I reached an important agreement to jointly phase down our production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and we intend to take more steps together in the months to come. It will make a difference. It’s a significant step in the reduction of carbon emissions. (Applause.)

And finally, my administration will redouble our efforts to engage our international partners in reaching a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action. (Applause.)

Four years ago, in Copenhagen, every major country agreed, for the first time, to limit carbon pollution by 2020. Two years ago, we decided to forge a new agreement beyond 2020 that would apply to all countries, not just developed countries.

What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious — because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands. We need an inclusive agreement -– because every country has to play its part. And we need an agreement that’s flexible — because different nations have different needs. And if we can come together and get this right, we can define a sustainable future for your generation.

So that’s my plan. (Applause.) The actions I’ve announced today should send a strong signal to the world that America intends to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution. We will continue to lead by the power of our example, because that’s what the United States of America has always done.

I am convinced this is the fight America can, and will, lead in the 21st century. And I’m convinced this is a fight that America must lead. But it will require all of us to do our part. We’ll need scientists to design new fuels, and we’ll need farmers to grow new fuels. We’ll need engineers to devise new technologies, and we’ll need businesses to make and sell those technologies. We’ll need workers to operate assembly lines that hum with high-tech, zero-carbon components, but we’ll also need builders to hammer into place the foundations for a new clean energy era.

We’re going to need to give special care to people and communities that are unsettled by this transition — not just here in the United States but around the world. And those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. (Applause.) Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

As I said before, climate change has become a partisan issue, but it hasn’t always been. It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans led the way on new and innovative policies to tackle these issues. Richard Nixon opened the EPA. George H.W. Bush declared — first U.S. President to declare — “human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and unprecedented ways.” Someone who never shies away from a challenge, John McCain, introduced a market-based cap-and-trade bill to slow carbon pollution.

The woman that I’ve chosen to head up the EPA, Gina McCarthy, she’s worked — (applause) — she’s terrific. Gina has worked for the EPA in my administration, but she’s also worked for five Republican governors. She’s got a long track record of working with industry and business leaders to forge common-sense solutions. Unfortunately, she’s being held up in the Senate. She’s been held up for months, forced to jump through hoops no Cabinet nominee should ever have to –- not because she lacks qualifications, but because there are too many in the Republican Party right now who think that the Environmental Protection Agency has no business protecting our environment from carbon pollution. The Senate should confirm her without any further obstruction or delay. (Applause.)

But more broadly, we’ve got to move beyond partisan politics on this issue. I want to be clear — I am willing to work with anybody –- Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, greens -– anybody — to combat this threat on behalf of our kids. I am open to all sorts of new ideas, maybe better ideas, to make sure that we deal with climate change in a way that promotes jobs and growth.

Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. (Applause.) We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. (Applause.) Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.

Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers. That’s what the American people expect. That’s what they deserve.

And someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world? And I want to be able to say, yes, we did. Don’t you want that? (Applause.)

Americans are not a people who look backwards; we’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it. What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.

Understand this is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends. Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future. (Applause.)

Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. (Applause.) Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth. And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote. Make yourself heard on this issue. (Applause.)

I understand the politics will be tough. The challenge we must accept will not reward us with a clear moment of victory. There’s no gathering army to defeat. There’s no peace treaty to sign. When President Kennedy said we’d go to the moon within the decade, we knew we’d build a spaceship and we’d meet the goal. Our progress here will be measured differently — in crises averted, in a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal? For while we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.

“It makes you realize,” that astronaut said all those years ago, “just what you have back there on Earth.” And that image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface, containing everything we hold dear — the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity — that’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if we remember that, I’m absolutely sure we’ll succeed.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 2:32 P.M. EDT

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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73 Responses to “Obama: Keystone pipeline might not be built if significantly adds greenhouse gases (video)”

  1. PeteWa says:

    the dumb is strong in that one… I couldn’t even reply to his idiotic comment that followed this one… too stupid for words with his “fart, barf, CO2” rejoinder.

  2. karmanot says:

    “fart and barf” I see you are a philosopher.

  3. karmanot says:

    Thank you PeteWa—got a fly swatter?

  4. karmanot says:

    It will hurt even more when you take your head out of your ass.

  5. karmanot says:

    Oh, I’m sure there’s an ‘ad hominem ‘ in the pipeline ready to burst forth in a major whine.

  6. karmanot says:

    I figured you for a skateboard little Sri.

  7. karmanot says:


  8. karmanot says:

    He is a fan of unnatural gas.

  9. Jafafa Hots says:

    This is not Pennzoil. It is tar sands oil. Very different. And it does NOT need to be shipped by train through the US, because it is in Canada and it is being sold to CHINA.

    The only reason the pipeline even goes through the US is because Canada had the sense not to allow it to be built across their country to one of their ports.

  10. Jafafa Hots says:

    He definitely will not allow it to go forward if the environmental disaster people are LEAST concerned about it causing could happen. How nice.

    Nothing about spills and cleanup costs (and figuring out HOW to clean up tar sands ‘oil’, since nobody knows how yet) and damage to rivers and streams and aquifers, and cancer hotspots in neighborhoods where leaks occurred, and farmland destroyed…

    In other news, he announced he is against new unsafe nuclear plants UNLESS the plants agree to use hybrid vehicles for their company cars.

    No fracking will be allowed unless the companies CEOs first buy one of those pink cancer ribbon magnets for their car.

  11. BillFromDover says:

    I’ll have mine with caviar until we pollute the oceans with enough acidic pollution to destroy damn near everything in it.

    And, enjoy the oysters while ya still can:


  12. Sri says:

    Stop using any petroleum products or by-products, I am sure not even single one of you can do that, and indeed 99% of you have ever tried doing that. Driving Prius is to the Greenhouse gas protests sounds like good idea to you.. then God bless.

  13. BillFromDover says:

    Oh, c’mon. the planet has not melted… yet.

    Don’t we have at least two more generations before game, set and match… no matter how this fucking conservative Supreme Court rules on it?

  14. Monoceros Forth says:

    Pointing to Al Gore is the anti-environmentalist equivalent of claiming evolution is rubbish because Darwin supposedly recanted on his deathbed. Try harder.

  15. Indigo says:

    Sure. Any way you like it. ;-)

  16. Sri says:

    Of course, it hurts when I point to Al Gore and his G6.

  17. Sri says:

    Of course on internet you claim you are an environmental messiah, of course you are producing methane with every fart and barf.. and with your own existence producing CO2.. of course you have full control to reduce those two.

  18. ronbo says:

    Cave? No. His MO is to say exactly the opposite of what he plans to do.

    Remember when he said he would fight to “stop those who would slash Social Security”; then Obama suggested cuts, reductions, slashes chained CPI.

    How about when he said he would keep us out of Syria? When it was reported that we were already providing arms and assistance to various rebels, we then found out that the white phosphorus we supplied Syrial was now “chemical weapons” and it justified our arming insurgents and any old nut who would destablilize the nation.
    Obama is ONLY a friend to the 1%. Expect the pipeline to be built.

  19. emjayay says:

    That’s 70% due to unecological farming practices upstream in the Mississippi River drainage. Most of the rest due to sewage, although the EPA (you know, the strong arm of oppressive Big Government) has done a lot about that over the years. All subsidies to agriculture should go to encouraging ecological practices like organic farming so as to not add so much nitrogen and potassium to the river, crop rotation, modern grazing pracitces, saving topsoil, non insane factory pig farms, etc. All other stuff should be made self-sustaining. Some does go to land preservation which I think it’s mostly paying farmers to not use ecologically sensitive land. At least it’s something.

    Everyone may have noticed that Congress couldn’t even pass an agriculture bill of any kind.

  20. emjayay says:

    I know it’s tough, and Obama is always too little too late for me too. On the other hand, I learned in Civics class that the Executive enforces the laws. Congress makes them. Congress is unable to do anything about anything. It might as well just pack up and go home. The buildings could be used for concerst and lectures or something.

    Meanwhile, this was a very comprehensive speech, rounding out the story on a lot of fronts and including legislative history about when Republicans were Republicans, not insane brainless idealogues pandering only to corporations and people just like them. Guess what: those people will be screaming about everything Obama does want to do makes him a Tyrant and a Dictator and Hitler, who should be immediately impeached. Which they are already saying, although for the life of me I can’t think of a single actual reason why. Unfortunately (I’m talking about Yahoo News comments) never seem to mention any.

  21. Monoceros Forth says:

    Playing the “environmentalists are stuck-up elitists” card a bit early, eh?

  22. PeteWa says:

    no, you’re not a bogus environmentalist, you’re just bogus.
    I don’t drive a car.
    I walk everywhere.
    I purposely live in an area where I can walk to work and the grocery store / farmers market.
    Oh, and I don’t eat doughnuts either.
    did I mention you are bogus?
    an ill informed, full of shit, bogus, thoughtless little lickspittle.
    as I said, you aren’t just playing dumb.
    I hope that you live a long, long life, and get to enjoy the future you and yours are helping to usher in.

  23. Drew2u says:

    “A giant dead zone may suffocate the Gulf of Mexico this year. A
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded forecast
    suggested that the dead zone could be one of the top ten ever recorded.

    The dead zone could cover from 7,286 (approximately the size of
    Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined) to
    8,561 square miles (New Jersey-sized).”


    At least there won’t be any more animals to die from oil spills….

  24. zorbear says:

    Noooooo….doesn’t sound familiar…

  25. zorbear says:

    (raising hand) Can I have mine on toast, please?

  26. Sri says:

    I am not a bogus environmentalist – I drive a car that drinks fossil fuels much to my chargin, but I cannot afford a chevy volt or tesla model S. Thank goodness for snobs like you .. you must be driving an electric vehicle with a boatload of solar-panels on the house that would offset your consumption. I would congratulate you for that. If you do not – Go get a doughnut.

  27. ezpz says:

    Shhh……as the obamabots cover their ears and shout that they can’t heeeaaaarrrr you.

  28. ezpz says:

    He ‘understands’ that he needs a distraction from the international embarrassment that his demands and admonitions to China, Hong Kong, and Russia were met with a middle finger salute.

  29. Naja pallida says:

    Not that they would cover it anyway. They’d do exactly what they did with the Gulf spill, avoid paying any claims at all costs so that the tax payers end up paying for it. This is the oil industry’s intended model.

  30. PeteWa says:

    Sri, you’re not just playing dumb.

  31. JCaude4553 says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    You know, I want this nation to
    be around for my grandkids, and not some barren wasteland caused by the
    subsidized oil giants. And solar panels and windmills WORK. Do you have a
    lot of TransCanada stock like Cantor?

  32. basenjilover says:

    Blah, blah, blah.. his words flowed from one ear through to the other. You just KNOW he’s gonna cave in.

  33. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’m seized with a feeling of profound futility, reading Pres. Obama’s remarks. What’s the bloody point? Is this what we’re reduced to, grasping pathetically at empty words? “Oh, look, he mentioned global warming! He must really care!”

    At best–at best mark you–Pres. Obama’s committed to the kind of glacially slow, halting, incremental change in policy that seems to be about as much as our current government can manage on any issue. Even if Obama did unequivocally wish to halt construction of the Keystone pipeline–which I don’t believe for a second–what real difference does it make if it’s not part of a radical and sweeping reform of U.S. energy policy in general?

  34. Thom Allen says:

    If we could somehow link Keystone to wetbacks, birth control, gays, vaginas, student loan interest rates, minimum wage or some other Republican anathema, they’d destroy it for us.

    Sadly, Obama just produced more greenhouse gases in that speech and not much else.

  35. Monoceros Forth says:

    Operating at 10%–ten percent–efficiency, a solar farm large enough to supply 3 terawatts of power, about equal to the current consumption of the entire country, would cover about 1.7% of the area of the United States.


    So you’re an idiot. Educate yourself or shut the fuck up.

  36. Indigo says:

    He understands that it’s an issue and that we-the-people have to be fed platitudes from time to time.

  37. Indigo says:

    That’s what I heard.

  38. emjayay says:

    You didn’t mention that after the State Department said that about the Keystone pipeline the EPA, in an apparently rare statement about another department, said they were full of crap.

  39. nicho says:

    Obama is the master of vague. Remember “hope and change?”

  40. nicho says:

    No reason it shouldn’t stay in the ground.

  41. nicho says:

    “We” are not “energy independent.” “We” do not export anything. The oil is not drilled, extracted, or processed by the US government or the American people. That would be socialism. It is sucked out of the earth, processed, and sold by giant multi-national corporations who steal it from underneath our ground and sell it back to us. We buy it not from ourselves, but from Exxon Mobil, BP, etc. It really doesn’t matter where they suck it out of the ground from. They sell it to the highest bidder at the highest price. “Energy independence” is the biggest scam in the world.

  42. cole3244 says:

    if that’s (gases) the case there shouldn’t even be a debate on the pipeline, game set & match has already been decided only the bs is to be determined.

  43. nicho says:

    Idiotic snark

  44. Sweetie says:

    “he understands and he gives a damn.”


  45. keirmeister says:

    Oh that’s right! I remember Maddow reporting on that delicious little nugget.

  46. Sally says:

    You know, I want this nation to be around for my grandkids, and not some barren wasteland caused by the subsidized oil giants. And solar panels and windmills WORK. Do you have a lot of TransCanada stock like Cantor?

  47. Sally says:

    Bull. We already export more than we import. As Sarah wanted, we are ‘energy independent.’ This sludge is not for American markets. They want our refinery and our port..and fouling the entire country in the process? Oh, well.

  48. Sally says:

    Better yet: tar sands is not covered by the insurance these companies pay in case of a spill or fire..so there is no money to fix anything, nor any liability. Thank you, King Cheney and Clown Bush for that one.

  49. keirmeister says:

    The problem is that the tar sludge isn’t for us, but we’ll foot the bill for the disasters WHEN they happen.

  50. Sally says:

    Ah, but they just had a major spill in Ontario, and people are NOT happy that TransCanada didn’t keep this from happening. The only reason they want this pipeline is because Canada does not have a port for a supertanker. Period. They are happy to foul our land, air and water, and benefit us not at all. We don’t need this sludge. The world doesn’t need this sludge burned. Let China find their own fuel..it’s a bigger country than ours. There was a SMALL spill in Kalamazoo in 2010, and it is STILL not cleaned up because they don’t know how to do it. And TransCanada’s safety record is atrocious…they ought to fit right in here. I hope the President stands firm on this. It is NOT a benefit to the US, does NOT create jobs, and the hazards are real..not to mention the taking of private lands to run it.

  51. samiinh says:


  52. Eric Stacy says:

    You are right. We need to cover the entire US in windmills and solar panels so we can all live the perfect liberal dream.

  53. Sixfiles says:

    The pundits didn’t think he would even mention Keystone, I know I didn’t. What I learned is that he understands and he gives a damn. So far the public knows less and gives not a damn at all. Convince them and congress will follow. This is a speech our nation needed to hear. Action is so much harder. Tell your brotherssisterscousins that this is issue #1. Do not rest.

  54. Cal Endula says:

    If you don’t build it, oil gets shipped by train. Trains that burn diesel. Or by pipeline in Canada. It won’t just stay in the ground, folks.

  55. jamas vonrock says:

    That being the case it’s a definite NO, But wait, organic oil and natural gas are OK.

  56. emjayay says:

    So enabling the most environmentally impactful energy inefficient kind of oil extraction in order to send oil to China and lower the cost of oil there which will encourage more consumption in the most polluted places on earth secures our energy needs and is good for the country and the world?

  57. Dave of the Jungle says:

    The only thing it insures is an export market for Canadian toxic sludge.

  58. Earth#1 says:

    Keystone Pipeline will not supply the US with energy or jobs in any significant manner. It will function to move tar sands across the US from Canada to export out of ports in the Gulf Coast/Texas. Canada then sells it to China & Russia while permanemtly damaging our environment & general population directly & indirectly for the next generation- if the earth is still inhabitable.

  59. Naja pallida says:

    The only thing the Keystone XL will ensure is that the American tax payer will foot the bill so oil companies can make more profit. There is absolutely nothing about it that will guarantee any energy security for the US. Once that oil hits the Gulf of Mexico, it can be sold anywhere in the world, to the highest bidder. What makes you think we’ll automatically be the highest bidder? It’s laughable to think that China won’t get their share anyway.

  60. nicho says:

    What bullshit. This is the biggest lie there is. This will give the US less than zero in “a diverse energy sources and dependence.” The sludge is not going to be dug, transported, processed and sold by the US government or an agency of the US government. It will be done my transnational petroleum companies that have no allegiance to any country, government, or people. Those corporations will steal our resources, trash our land, and sell the oil to the highest bidder — whatever country that bidder is in.

    All this talk that drilling here or pumping here will make us “energy independent” is just a lie of the oil corporations.

    You are either a fool or a tool.

  61. Naja pallida says:

    Let’s not forget that the only technology developed over the last 37 years for cleaning up on-land oil spills is basically just paper towels. What doesn’t get soaked up with paper towels, is dug up and carted off to landfills to poison some other area. Also, guess who happens to also own paper mills that produce fancy paper towels? Koch Industries… profit from the oil, profit from the spill.

  62. nicho says:

    There are a hundred PhDs out there (at least) who, given a dollar or two, would find exactly what the oil corporations wanted them to find.

  63. nicho says:

    Let me be perfectly frank = I’m about to lie to you.

  64. Drew2u says:

    Alberta’s had an average of 2 oils spills per day for the past 37 years. The tarsludge corrodes the pipes from the inside out so badly that even Canada doesn’t want it crossing its own soil. That’s sorta significant.
    (Also interesting how the pipeline paths cut through the poorer tribal Sioux/Lakota/Dakota lands in South Dakota)

  65. Reasor says:

    There is no “if.” Getting access to the tar sands requires massive deforestation before the fracking can begin. Greenhouse gases are part of the plan, from page one.

    This is a nothing of a non-promise. He’s as incapable of facing a crowd and telling them he caved to the Kochs as he is of facing the Kochs and telling them he puts the survival of the human race over their pathological appetites for ever more profit.

  66. Sri says:

    Yes, but if you are not getting it, the Chinese will happily take the tar-sand oil, and fortify their energy security. KeyStone XL will ensure US will have the diverse portfolio of energy sources and less dependence outside of North American sources, this is the time for US to secure its energy needs from North American sources – so we should all stop playing dumb and go ahead with this.

  67. Drew2u says:

    Funny how the U.S. went from being about manufacturing to service-industry to financing to, now, extracting: extracting money from banks or smaller companies, extracting more labor from less wage, extracting natural resources from national parks, natural refuges, and under peoples’ homes. Welcome to the US, where ya gotta take what you can before it’s all gone!

    and a slightly related video, but mainly for catharsis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=55a6RyKWVoI

  68. Naja pallida says:

    He wants to be clear. Clear as our air after burning “clean” coal and tar sludge.

  69. Indigo says:

    We’re not supposed to know that.

  70. Indigo says:

    My observation suggests that the phrase “I want to be clear” is a clear signal that obfuscation follows.

  71. keirmeister says:

    That’s a pretty vague criteria. Also, is the threat from increased greenhouse gases any worse than that of a massive leak that the oil company will be unable to fix?

  72. That’s the problem

  73. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Well, just how significant must significantly be?

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