Obama donors compare vetoing Keystone XL to Lincoln freeing the slaves

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

President Obama’s top campaign donors are urging him to reject the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to help move the U.S. away from fossil fuels and toward more green energy, and his supporters compared vetoing the pipeline to President Abraham Lincoln ending slavery.

“The Keystone decision affords you a rare opportunity to pivot away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future in a way that signals the necessary sea change,” reads a letter from 150 top Obama donors.

“We have read of your admiration for President Lincoln, surely the most beloved of all presidents. He made one of the most important decisions of his presidency and for our nation when he decided that he would fight for the 13th Amendment to end slavery even if it took every ounce of his political capital,” the letter continues. “Your decision on Keystone may not be so weighty, but we believe it holds a comparable urgency and importance, not strictly as a pipeline decision but as a presidential choice that will signal a fundamentally new direction for our nation.”

The Guardian reports that the letter was endorsed by major Obama donors: “Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems; Rob McKay, the heir to the Taco Bell fortune and chairman of the Democracy Alliance; Blythe Danner, the actor and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing line.”

Buell alone donated $300,000 to Democratic causes during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Environmental groups have been increasingly putting pressure on the president to reject the Keystone pipeline, and even the Sierra Club broke its 120-year policy against civil disobedience when its president and other top members were arrested outside the White House protesting the pipeline.

“This call for climate action is important enough that, for the first time in our 120-year history, we have suspended the Sierra Club’s long-standing policy that prohibits civil disobedience,” Sierra Club president Allison Chin wrote. “Today is a one-time event to face arrest in order to elevate discussion about a critical issue.”

Republicans have been pressing the president to pass the Keystone pipeline, calling it a “no-brainer.”

“Keystone is primed to give our economy a shot in the arm and make energy more affordable, and it won’t cost the taxpayers a dime,” said Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska. “The Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer.”

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said that he expected the House to pass legislation to take the Keystone pipeline decision out of President Obama’s sometime this month.

“In line with our underlying principles for legislation and our goal of helping make life work for American families and businesses, I expect the House to have a full legislative agenda in May. We will push the administration to finally approve the Keystone pipeline delivering much needed jobs and lower energy prices for families,” Cantor said in a memo.

The president has also been urged by unions and the oil and gas industry to approve the pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas.

“This is another in the long line of environmental and economic reviews of the Keystone XL Pipeline that have noted the strong jobs benefits and minimal environmental effects of building the pipeline,” said Sean McGarvey, ONGIL-MC chairman and president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, in a statement on the State Department’s recent review of the pipeline.

“I hope this document serves as a reminder to the president that the pipeline will be built by the world’s best-trained workers and remains the safest and most efficient option for oil transportation,” he said.

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