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Green groups target the Keystone pipeline, push for carbon tax in Obama second term

Environmental groups have seized upon Barack Obama’s election victory and are already calling for the newly re-elected president to block the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and work with Congress to adopt a carbon tax.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as the warmest year in American history draws to a close, as the disastrous drought lingers on in the Midwest, everyone is looking for ways to make a real difference in the fight to slow climate change,” reads a letter from environmentalists, including climate activist Bill McKibben of 350.org, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, leftist author Naomi Klein, climate scientist James Hansen, and Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.

Following demonstrations and a large number of civil disobedience arrests last year, the White House punted on whethe to permit the Keystone XL Pipeline which would bring oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. The Obama administration hinted that the pipeline decision could happen in the first quarter of 2013.

On the campaign trail, Republican challenger Mitt Romney attacked the President for not approving the pipeline, saying he was costing the economy jobs and increased energy independence.

“We’d like to ask you to come once more to Washington, to resume the battle to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, mid-afternoon on Nov. 18th,” the letter continues.

Environmental groups have also called on the president and Congress to get tougher on greenhouse gas emissions and to consider adopting a carbon tax.

“We also urge the president and Congress to place climate change alongside the nation’s other pressing challenges, and to consider approaches such as a carbon tax that can help solve more than one at the same time,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

“The president should work with Congress on national-level policies, including putting a price on carbon, to get the country on a low-carbon trajectory,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute.

In August, Washington Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott introduced a carbon tax bill that would create a permitting system, placing an initial maximum price of $18.75 per ton of carbon which would then steeply rise to $131.25 per ton of carbon over a decade.