Green groups add to pressure on Obama

Top officials with several prominent environmental groups are voicing support for demonstrations at the White House that call for President Obama to block a pipeline that would greatly expand imports from Canada’s oil sands.

Their joint letter Wednesday adds to the political pressure on the White House over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, signifying that it’s emerging as a priority for a key part of Obama’s liberal base.

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Signers include the heads of the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, which have the environmental movement’s largest political operations, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, a group more often known for playing a less confrontational, inside game (although that may be changing).

“It’s perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election. If you block it, you will trigger a surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election. We expect nothing less,” states the letter from top officials with groups that also include the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment America, Greenpeace, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, and the Rainforest Action Network.

More than 275 people have now been arrested near the White House in civil disobedience protests that began Saturday, organizers say. See E2’s earlier coverage of the protests here, here and here.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear President Obama:

Many of the organizations we head do not engage in civil disobedience; some do. Regardless, speaking as individuals, we want to let you know that there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone Pipeline and those of the very civil protesters being arrested daily outside the White House. This is a terrible project – many of the country’s leading climate scientists have explained why in their letter last month to you. It risks many of our national treasures to leaks and spills. And it reduces incentives to make the transition to job-creating clean fuels.

You have a clear shot to deny the permit, without any interference from Congress. It’s perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election. If you block it, you will trigger a surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election. We expect nothing less.

Sincerely,

Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund


Michael Brune, Sierra Club

Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council


Phil Radford, Greenpeace
Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation


Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth

Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network


May Boeve, 350.org


Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters


Margie Alt, Environment America