Let's not get overly gushy here ...
After news broke that the Obama administration would delay the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the environmental community was quick to celebrate. Every major green group in the nation issued statements saluting the president for listening to the concerned voices that they had helped bring to the public spotlight. My inbox was flooded with words of praise from the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and so on and so forth.
Robert Redford even shot a short video where he personally thanked the president for delaying the Keystone XL:
And all that's well and good. As I mentioned yesterday, it's been quite a while since environmentalists have registered a major victory -- even if that victory was tempered by the fact that the pipeline has only been delayed, not denied. Which brings me to my point: Not to rain on anyone's parade (we deserve a moment of celebration), but this is only a small step in the right direction. Even if the Keystone XL is eventually cancelled -- or dies off from lack of investor support -- that won't change the fact that the United States is still hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels. Even if we've diffused one looming carbon bomb, we're still in the process of exploding millions more.
My hope is that victories like this one will help build the momentum to generate the kind of people power necessary to move the needle on comprehensive climate policy -- policy that prices carbon, removes subsidies for oil companies, and encourages clean energy development.
Because even if we fight off every single proposed oil pipeline and coal plant from this day forward, we'd still be pumping a massively unsustainable amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere on a routine basis. It's time to find another way into the climate fight, perhaps using some of the tools that helped achieved victory on this battlefield. It helps that public support is out there; climate change deniers are losing out, slowly but surely. And Americans overwhelmingly want to see more clean energy development. But a concerted, public push to rein in corporate polluters is still of the utmost necessity.
So let's savor the victory. And resharpen the knives.