Why I’m Going to Join Hands in Washington


by John H. Adams, NRDC Founding Director

On November 6, I will be leading a group of NRDC members and experts to the White House. My colleagues and I will join thousands of concerned citizens to send a clear message to President Obama: Oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and create a clean, 21st-century energy system for America.

The last time I visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I had the honor of receiving the Medal of Freedom in recognition of what NRDC and the environmental movement have achieved in the last 40 years. On this visit, I want to focus on the future, not the past.

Photo credit: Anthony Clark

This will be a new experience for me. In the four decades since I helped found NRDC, I believed the best way for me to defend the environment was as a lawyer, using the legal and scientific strengths of the organization in courtrooms and government buildings.

Yet with gridlock in Washington and climate denial on the campaign trail, I believe a different kind of action is needed—one that gets feet on the ground.  I want to be counted as a citizen. I want our elected officials to know that I am one of millions of Americans who believe the future of our nation lies in clean energy, green innovation, and sustainable growth.

Tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline have no place in that future.

Tar sands strip mines are destroying a wonderful and vibrant part of Canada’s boreal forest. This ancient forest was once teeming with caribou, wolves and millions of songbirds. Now, as you’ll see in this video, tar sands operations have been devouring these wildlands; full development of tar sands could eventually affect an area the size of Florida.

The destruction doesn’t end there. Turning tar sands into crude oil generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude. Burning it in our cars and trucks releases even more.

Building the Keystone XL pipeline—which would haul up to 900,000 barrels of this filthy fuel a day—would cement the devastation of the boreal forest and escalation of climate change.

Massive infrastructure projects like this last for decades. If President Obama approves it, this tar sands spigot won’t be turned off until after my grandchildren are grown. We cannot afford another 50 years of dirty fuels and unchecked carbon. If we want to shield future generations from the pain of climate change, America must stop sinking money into dirty energy infrastructure. Now.

When I started working to stop climate change more than two decades ago, I knew it would take time to build political will for change. What I did not anticipate was the eleventh-hour push to prolong our oil addiction in every conceivable way.

Companies are going to the ends of the Earth. They are drilling miles under the Gulf of Mexico, they are clamoring to get into the Arctic Ocean, and they are injecting untested fracking chemicals into rock formations, groundwater reserves, and families’ backyards. The Keystone XL pipeline is just one more nail in the coffin.

We don’t need to drain the Earth of every fossil fuel. We have plenty of cleaner ways to power our economy. This summer, President Obama proposed new clean car standards that will cut automobile carbon emissions in half. By 2025, new cars and light trucks in this country will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas. This will save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and reduce our oil dependency to 12 billion barrels of oil by 2030.

This is the kind of innovation America should be investing in right now, not a tar sands pipeline that will lock us into decades of pollution.

It’s time to do what President Obama has urged: “end the tyranny of oil.” I believe our era will be remembered for what we did to address global warming. The President’s decision on the Keystone XL will be a key bellwether: did we prioritize the cleaner path or did we endorse the fuel that would sink us deeper into the climate crisis?

On November 6, I will be one of many citizens urging President Obama to make the right choice. Together, we will peacefully encircle the White House in one large ring. While our plan has never been done before, it will be a completely legal and respectful event. I hope you will support this effort. You can sign up to join us here, or you can send a message to the President at www.StopTar.org.


Related Stories:

Toxic Fracking Waste Could End Up In Niagara Falls

Three (More) Reasons to Oppose the XL Pipeline

Wildlife is Footing the Bill for Our Oil and Coal Addiction


Photo credit: Tar Sands Action


Roger B.
Roger Bird7 years ago

This means that you liberal morons are prohibited from complaining about high gas prices and high unemployment figures. And when you can't get a job or get fired, no complaining. The White House is run by an economic moron whose only interest is getting re-elected. Mobocracy rules.

Claire Morgenstern
Claire M7 years ago

Update: The People have prevailed over Big Oil!

Today, the White House announced that it will NOT be approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as most observers expected. Instead, the State Department will undertake a new and thorough review of the pipeline’s true environmental costs -- exactly what all of you have been calling for all along! So thank you for signing our petition. And please send a message to President Obama thanking him for standing up for the American people, not big oil.

You can do so here: https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2545&s_src=fb

The NRDC Membership team

Victoria Pitchford
Vicky P7 years ago

Good luck guys, money rules the world, and I don't see it stopping anytime soon

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago


Wendy B.
Wendy B7 years ago

Good luck to all of you going to Washington D.C. on No.v 6th. I really hope this does some good and Obama realizes what a horrible mistake this would be. We need to be going after remewables but I keep reading how oil and gas companies keep finding "new technologies" to get at hard to reach fossill fuels. In realitiy, these "new technologies" seem to be more damaging then what they were doing before. Are humans not learning a damn thing about what is happening to this planet due to our greed and dependency on these dirty fuels?? Meanwhile, the oil and gas companies keep getting richer as people will get sicker along with the environment and the other creatures that share this planet with us. We will continue to just sink deeper until we can't find a way out.

Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

Roger B. I see you have your Halloween mask on, good for you!

Ernie Miller
william Miller7 years ago

it is a shame all our government cares about is money, Money and more money. and not the health and future of generations to come. makes me sick to see people in power doing everything they can to do what is definatly wrong for the citizens.

Roger B.
Roger Bird7 years ago

Patrick, one of the penalties for being a being malicious is that you never learn from anyone else and you never grow out of your little box. You just have thrash around in your little box of hatred for a very long time.

Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

Roger B. Thanks for confirming my statement.....

Roger B.
Roger Bird7 years ago

But Patrick, the only way that you could know that I am a pathetic, phucking phooooool, as you say, is if you used yourself as some kind of standard, and considering how your intent is to hurt me, I wouldn't being using myself as a standard if I were you. But I guess deep thought is foreign to you.