Imagine That: Environmental Activists Have Made the Most Powerful Man in the World Change his Mind on Oil Extraction!

shutterstock_128585402On Friday November 6, President Barack Obama stood outside the White House and rejected the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, marking one of the biggest victories for the U.S. environmental movement in years, as reported on by Sierraclub.org.

His message was: “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” the president said. He continued by stating that “if we’re going to prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetime, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

It should be noted that you would never have heard Obama say “keep some fossil fuels in the ground” had the environmental movement not made Keystone XL one of the defining issues of his presidency.

shutterstock_83447581As Vox.com blogger David Roberts explained, the Keystone campaign was not only the largest ever movement organized around climate change in the US, it was also the most diverse. That’s because Keystone was about more than climate; it was also about local pollution, political corruption, and corporate bullying. What activists are trying to do is not to reduce emissions, one project at a time, it’s to change culture.

To find out more about the importance of environmental activism please read this GFDD press release for details about the 2015 Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (www.dreff.org) workshop on this topic, or view this YouTube video recording of one of our DREFF workshops on the use of environmental activism through film.

On Keystone XL, the environmental movement demonstrated an impressive degree of boldness, a boldness that was fueled by citizen power and that will, thanks to this victory, open the way for more political power to come.

Previous posts on this issue:

January 21, 2015: The Impact of Keystone Pipeline on the US Climate Agenda

March 13, 2015: The Impact of Oil Price Drops on the Fight Against Climate Change

May 26, 2015: The Contradictions of Oil Exploration and Climate Policy

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