Major victory over Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but more battles to come

Posted by bex — 19 January 2012 at 5:34pm - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace / Colin O'Connor
Rubbish piled up on the barren ground of the tar sands outside Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

President Obama has just said no to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas. Despite a fierce lobbying campaign by oil companies and by Canada's Harper government, Obama spiked the pipeline - in part thanks to an unprecedented and global grassroots uprising.

So this round, at least goes to the people, not the polluters.

But before we crack open the champagne, it's worth remembering that there will be many more tar sands battles to come. TransCanada, the Canadian company wanting to build the pipeline, will be allowed to re-apply for permission. And there are other pipelines in planning - like the proposed ‘Northern Gateway’ pipeline from Alberta to the sensitive and beautiful coast of British Columbia.

And, for Obama, this was a decision based not just on principle, but publicly positioned more as a political win ahead of the US elections. While the outcry against tar sands certainly made Obama's decision easier, he has explicitly said this was not a decision about the pipeline's merits but rather a response to the game-playing of the Republicans in Congress. The US may well support future pipeline proposals.

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, an EU battle is underway. The European Union is on the verge of passing legislation that would keep dirty fuels - like tar sands fuel - out of the tanks of European cars: the Fuel Quality Directive.

Who is blocking it? Big Oil, and their friends in Cameron's government. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests reveal a series of high-level meetings between Canadian ministers, oil executives and British government officials focused on the UK’s position on the Fuel Quality Directive.

The UK, which started out supporting the Fuel Quality Directive, gave in to the oil lobbyists and is now actively blocking the proposals.

The global battle to stop tar sands continues. Big Oil is not likely to give up easily. But this victory shows that, if activists work together to oppose every stage in the process, we may just beat Big Oil, and succeed in protecting vast tracts of Alberta's wilderness - and the global climate.

Hey look, it's that ever peristent troll again;

DaitheSci, if you hate Greenpeace that much, and any attempt to campaign for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, why do you spend so much time on the Greenpeace website - haven't you got anything better to do?

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