Keystone protest at Bennet’s office
Micah Parkin | Nov 17, 2014
More than 200 Coloradans gathered outside and flooded into Senator Michael Bennet’s Denver office Monday, Nov. 17, to say “If Bennet isn’t a climate denier, he shouldn’t vote like one.”
Political players in the US Senate are forcing a vote on Tuesday to usurp President Obama’s authority for approval the KXL tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, ushering tar sands oil to the world oil market. The vote count is extremely close, and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet’s vote is considered critical. Despite Bennet’s claims of understanding the severity of the climate crisis, reports say he is planning to vote for the pipeline.
Concerned Coloradans and 20 groups organized the demonstration Monday to asked Bennet via signs and comments to his staff, “Will you be a climate hero or a climate criminal?”, likening voting for the pipeline to lighting the fuse on a carbon bomb. They implored Bennet via his staff to be on the rights side of history by rejecting the KXL Pipeline and not vote like the climate deniers in Congress who won’t accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of a human-induced climate crisis.
“Climate Change is the greatest issue of our time and approving the Keystone XL pipeline is only going to escalate the impacts from climate change and the destruction of eco-systems that will be left to our generation and future generations to come,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth leader of Earth Guardians.
Bennet’s Colorado Deputy Chief of Staff, Sarah Hughes, who met with several groups of the protestors (but refused to be on video or have media present) offered no reasons for Bennet’s pro-pipeline stance. Hughes would only say that Bennet believes the Environmental Impact Statement released by the State Department, a document that many say is biased, deeply flawed, and plagued by conflicts of interest, resulting in a lawsuit by the Sierra Club.
“Strangely, Bennet’s Deputy could not tell us why Bennet was voting for it – only that he’s not opposed to it because he believes the State Dept EIS which said that it would have minimal impact on climate change,” said Gina Hardin with 350 Colorado. “This report was of course, rejected by the EPA, and has been sent back to the drawing board. She could give no positive reason for his intended vote for KXL, so either a) Bennet and his staff care so little about approving of this pipeline that they didn’t bother to discuss it prior to mass opposition to his pro-vote, or (b) there is no defensible rationale that he’s willing to admit to. Now, that’s some kind of leadership – just not the type of leadership that a democracy should support.”
Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the third-party contractor hired to conduct the analysis of the fiercely-debated KXL pipeline proposal to ferry heavy crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. The State Department also received a letter in April of 2013 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criticizing the draft environmental impact statement, suggesting the review contained “insufficient information” on environmental, climate and community impacts associated with the project.
Rev. Peter Sawtell, executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries, says, “It has become absolutely clear that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would increase the production of highly-polluting and climate-intensive tar sands. Right now, tar sands are being left in place because there is not enough pipeline capacity to move them to refineries. If we want to have any hope of a stable climate for future generations, that Canadian gunk has to stay in the ground. Rejecting Keystone is essential for protecting the climate.”
NASA scientist James Hansen has said that the KXL pipeline would expedite the burning of tar sands oil and result in “game over” for a safe climate, potentially raising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to 600 parts per million – far above the safe upper limit of 350ppm. A Yale poll entitled “Climate Change in the Coloradan Mind” found that 73% of Coloradans polled said that the issue of global warming is important to them personally[i].
Despite the many concerns with the validity of the EIS, according to his staff, Senator Bennet is planning to usurp President Obama’s authority and vote for the KXL pipeline based on this analysis instead of listening to over 50,000 Coloradans who have signed petitions, attended events and called his D.C., Denver and other local offices urging him to oppose it.
“We expect yes votes on the KXL pipeline from oil-soaked Senators and climate deniers in Congress – political players who stick their heads in the sand and ignore the overwhelming consensus from scientists that we’re in a human-induced climate crisis because it yields campaign donations from the Koch brothers, but if Senator Michael Bennet isn’t a climate denier, he shouldn’t vote like one,” said Micah Parkin with 350 Colorado. “73% of Coloradans polled say the issue of global warming is important to them and many have experienced the impacts – like record-breaking wildires and floods .Those who know we’re in a climate crisis and vote for a pipeline that has been called ‘the fuse to a carbon bomb’ are more culpable for the impacts our children will face than the deniers.”
Event organizers included 350 Colorado, 350 Denver, 350 Boulder County, 350 Central Colorado, Americans for Conservation + the Arts, Clean Energy Action, Climate Colorado, Earth Guardians, Eco-Justice Ministries, Empower Our Future, Food & Water Watch, Fossil Fuel Free Denver, Frack Free CO, Greenpeace, Kids Against Fracking, Pledge of Resistance – Denver and Lakewood groups, Protect Our Loveland, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter and more.
For event photos, visit this site.