For months, Sen. Tim Kaine has been publicly undecided on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – supporting a full and thorough review, backing President Obama’s right to make the ultimate decision, and speaking favorably of TransCanada’s promises of jobs, while not taking a position himself. But in a recent email to a Virginia supporter of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Kaine says that he’s listened to all sides, thought long and hard about the issue, and has made up his mind:
After giving this issue a lot of thought, I do not believe Keystone XL would be in our national interest. I’ve long believed that energy policy should be about using innovation to produce energy more cleanly tomorrow than we do today. Keystone XL will facilitate the use of tar sands oil that is worse for the environment than conventional petroleum. While we will use fossil fuels for a long time, we should always be striving to get cleaner rather than backsliding.
Additionally, I believe claims about this project’s job creation potential, energy security impacts, and impact on U.S. gas prices may be overstated. Gas prices, for instance, are largely driven by the global market for crude oil. The oil that would flow through Keystone XL would be shipped to the global market, not reserved for the U.S. market to lower domestic prices at the pump.
A more effective way to reduce the burden of high gas prices is to design cars that use gas more efficiently so we don’t have to buy as much of it. In the last several years, we have made unprecedented improvements in vehicle fuel economy. We have successfully reduced tailpipe emissions, created jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and saved American drivers thousands of dollars over the lives of their vehicles. We don’t have to choose between strengthening our economy and saving the environment; we can do both.
“We thank Sen. Kaine for recognizing that Keystone XL is not in our national interest, given how damaging tar sands oil is for the environment,” said Keith Thirion, CCAN’s Virginia Field Director. “It’s time for Sen. Warner to do the same. At every turn, Virginians are showing Sen. Warner that he can’t be for a safe climate and for the Keystone XL pipeline at the same time.”
Keith is right – our elected officials can’t claim to support climate action while bowing to polluter demands. And why should they? Keystone XL would be a huge loser for Virginia, delivering no jobs here (and only 35 permanent jobs nationwide) and locking in high gas prices while making our climate crisis even worse. And Democratic supporters of Keystone XL shouldn’t expect even a thank-you from Big Oil, which has promised to go all-out to defeat Democrats even if they support Keystone XL.
I’ve never been afraid to criticize Tim Kaine on conservation issues, so you know this isn’t partisan hackery: Tim Kaine is taking a bold, principled stand for America’s climate and energy security, and deserves our thanks. If you can spare $20, please donate to Sen. Kaine right now as way of saying thanks. Big Oil may not know the meaning of the word gratitude, but progressive climate hawks sure do.