Nobel Peace Prize Winners Urge Obama to Reject Tar Sands Pipeline

NOTE: This is a guest post from Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and seven other Nobel Peace Prize winners have written to President Obama calling on him to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

This letter is yet another sign that the world is waiting for President Obama to make the right decision on the pipeline.

From these global luminaries to the community leaders along the proposed pipeline route to the prominent climate scientists who have researched the dangers of producing tar sands oil to the more than 1,250 people who were arrested in the sit-in at the White House, people have made it clear that the pipeline is a dangerous move in the wrong direction.

After his announcement last week that he was abandoning stronger limits on air pollution, the president needs to send a clear signal that he values the planet’s future. He can do that by rejecting Keystone XL.

The pipeline would transport dirty tar sands oil–fuel that has three times as much global warming pollution just from its production process as conventional crude. In their letter, the Nobel laureates reminded President Obama of the pledges he made on the campaign trail to combat climate change.

“The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership–and working together–the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal.

You spoke of creating a clean energy economy. This is a critical moment to make good on that pledge, and make a lasting contribution to the health and well being of everyone of this planet.”

I remember when President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. I was thrilled that the Nobel Committee explicitly cited Obama’s efforts to address climate change in their announcement.

And in the president’s first public comments after learning about his award, Obama said, “We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children — sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. That’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.”

The Keystone XL pipeline and its dirty tar sands oil cannot coexist with this vision.

You can send your own message to the president at

Photo credit: Jan Michael Ihl.


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

@ roy m: thx for sharing that info. Don't know why I still get amazed at how far the oil companies will go to save their billions dollars of dirty money. Man, they are so sneaky.

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy6 years ago

if Obama lets this pipeline happen he's going to lose a lot of supportes.

roy m.
Roy Phillips6 years ago

I've been following this fight against the tar sands strip mining and pipeline proposal for some time. you should be aware that i just got what amounts to a push poll from a group called Art Int Srv phone 202-643-1953. (date2011 09-20) questions were, do you think the price of gasoline is too high? (from a computer) yes 2. do you think there is too much unemployment? yes 3. would you like gov't to make it all better? yes. then spiel about the tar sands that, if tapped, would employ 20,000 Americans and add 20 billion to the economy. can we add your name to those who want the state dept. to okay this? of course, i said hell no. thought someone at care2 might want to check this out. looks like the oil companies are out to stack the deck.

Julia P.
Julia P6 years ago

Good to know that big names are getting behind this protest. As sad as it is, hearing for the Dalai Lama regarding this subject will go much further than all of the signatures on petitions. It helps sign a huge spotlight on the whole issue.

Mary Robert
Mary Robert6 years ago

Why aren't profitable, well financed fossil-fuel companies investing in and loudly promoting renewable energy? They can afford it & they could wrap up the energy market world-wide for generations to come. Tar sands, fracking, mountain top removal . . . why these horribly destructive, last-ditch methods instead of looking forward?

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright6 years ago

If you won't listen to us peons about rejecting this pipeline, you had better listen to these wise leaders.

Gene Sengstake
Gene Sengstake6 years ago

There is absolutely nothing good about Canadian tar sands oil - much less the Keystone XL pipeline. It is incredible that dirty oil and this proposal for transporting it have progressed as far as they have. If our president does not stop the pipeline - then it will be up to the people to stop it by whatever legal means necessary. There comes a point that when the government is not willing to listen to reason - and act in a decisive and responsible manner - the people have to remember who and what this country is all about - - -

Kathy Javens
Kathy Javens6 years ago

I hope the president keeps an open mind, open lines of communication with all & does the right thing. That seems all we can do is hope.....& pray.

Charlie Parkinson

Not too hopeful here........I've never really been one to trust politicians period; what they say before office is all nice and pretty then once their in they tend to do a 180 on you and do whatever they think will further their own career and not go too far out of their way to pass laws and regulations that will benefit everyone else....unless that benefits them as well of course. Obama's flowery speech made me suspicious of him from the start-he said a lot of nice things, but the HOW of things was something he never seemed to come around to, so it was no surprise to me how ineffective he has shown himself to be since then. SO my take is, whether he listens or not will depend on the kind and the amount of pressure he receives from both sides of the issue, especially at home, from future voters......

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

Hope the President listens.