By Zack Colman - 03/21/13 05:37 PM EDT
The email comes shortly after Obama encouraged attendees at an Organizing for Action (OFA) event in Washington, D.C., to embolden lawmakers by voicing support for climate policies.
“If we move aggressively on an issue like climate change — that’s not an easy issue for a lot of folks, because the benefits may be out in the future. And I want to make sure that a congressman, senator feels as if they've got the information and the grassroots network that’s going to support them in that effort,” Obama said at the event last week.
Following up on that call, OFA asked people in the email to sign the clean-budget petition to let “members of Congress ... know that we’ve got a massive community of supporters ready to help them out if they do the right thing — or make life very hard for them if they don’t.”
While the letter makes note of Keystone, it follows a period in which Obama and the White House have downplayed environmental concerns about the project.
Obama has the final say on the Canada-to-Texas pipeline because it crosses national borders. Environmental activists say approving the project would amount to a betrayal of the president’s recent comments about combating climate change.
But when Obama met with House and Senate Republicans last week, GOP lawmakers said the president told them green groups’ claims about the Keystone’s climate impact were overblown. Obama also told Republicans, however, that the pipeline's backers were exaggerating the number of jobs it would create.
Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, had much of the same message about Keystone and climate change.
“Thousands of miles of pipelines have been built since President Obama took office inside the United States of America and it hasn’t had a measurable impact on climate change,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.