Politics

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

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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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.

However, it seems unlikely McDermott’s bill will pass.

“The reason that the global warming alarmists tried to enact cap and trade legislation is because they thought that they could fool the public into not realizing that it was a tax on them,” said Myron Ebell, president of Freedom Action and director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“A carbon tax should be much easier to defeat because it is obviously a tax on consumers,” Ebell continued. “However, the environmental left is making concerted efforts to convince some in the conservative movement that a carbon tax would be acceptable if it were part of a larger deal that cut some other tax.”

Environmental groups have also called on the president to stop his support for fossil fuel energy that they see as causing climate change and extreme weather, citing the recent superstorm Sandy.

“Hurricane Sandy plainly shows why solving global warming must be the top priority for President Obama’s second term,” writes the environmental activist group Greenpeace. “The President must stop supporting the dirty energy sources that cause global warming, fueling extreme weather and putting our coastal communities, our farmers, and our children at risk.”

Greenpeace has been one of the groups actively opposed to the construction of the Keystone Pipeline and their activists have been among those arrested protesting the pipelines construction.

Last year, actress Daryl Hannah and Greepeace’s Radford were arrested outside the White House while protesting against the Keystone XL pipeline. And the letter hints that more arrests may be around the corner as the winter months approach.

“No one needs to get arrested this time—though that may come as the winter wears on,” the letter continues. “For now we simply need to let the President know we haven’t forgotten, and that our conviction hasn’t cooled. Please be there if you possibly can.”

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