I write to commend the plan you laid out in the State of the Union address to take aggressive action to reduce the threat of climate change by cutting carbon pollution, and to ensure greater protection of America's air, water, wildlife and most spectacular places.
Count me among the millions of Americans who support this agenda. I will be in Washington in person on Sunday to talk (collectively) directly to you. It would be great if you show us that you remember your 2008 supporters by greeting us in person to assure us that we should trust the State-of-the-Union comments that call for action on climate change, not those that refer to easier, quicker oil and gas leases.
Among the specific next steps I support:
Clean up power plants: I urge you to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to not only finalize standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, but also to rein in carbon pollution from existing power plants, the nation's largest source of carbon pollution, and from airplanes, the fastest-growing transportation source of greenhouse gases.
Reject the Keystone XL pipeline: The Keystone XL pipeline would transport up to 35 million gallons of oil a day from Canada's tar sands -- one of the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive energy sources in the world -- to the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, has called the Keystone pipeline "game over" for the climate. The Keystone pipeline cannot go forward without State Department approval, and you should stop the project permanently. This request is of long standing; I travelled to Washington 3 times in 2011 to make this point.
Protect the Arctic from offshore drilling: Offshore fossil fuel development does not belong in the Arctic's delicate ecosystem. As melting sea ice hits record lows, oil companies have rushed to exploit the Arctic's fossil fuel spoils. We should not invest in a new carbon-intensive fossil fuel infrastructure, especially in a place with frozen water where cleaning up spilled oil would be impossible and where multiple accidents this year demonstrated that the oil industry cannot operate safely. An oil spill in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas would devastate one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet, killing polar bears, ice seals and other imperilled wildlife.
Join the world in seeking a fair and ambitious climate treaty: It's time to seek a successful global climate treaty. In 1992 the first President Bush signed, and the Senate ratified, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which America agreed to take action to avoid dangerous climate change. Yet the U.S. negotiating team refuses to agree to the cuts necessary to avert climate disruption. I urge you to direct the State Department negotiating team to commit our country to fair, ambitious and binding greenhouse gas reductions. Stop the TPP negotiations; focus on the Convention on Climate Change instead.
[N.B.: The above is my customization of Earth Justice’s letter to President Obama.]