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May 09, 2013

Club Comments on Keystone Controversy in N.Y. Times


Readers of side-by-side articles on the front page of Business Day in the May 9 New York Times saw the Sierra Club mentioned several times, including prominent quotes by Executive Director Michael Brune and Public Advocacy & Partnerships Director Cathy Duvall.

Foes Suggest A Tradeoff If Pipeline Is Approved speculated whether the Obama administration was contemplating some kind of major climate policy announcement on renewable energy incentives or power plant regulation to "ease the sting" among environmental advocates if the president approves the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But the article quickly noted that pipeline opponents say there is no quid pro quo deal that could compensate for the environmental damage created by the construction of the pipeline and expanded development of the Canadian oil sands.

"Approving the pipeline would be a deep self-inflicted would on the Obama administration, greater than anything else he has done," Brune told the Times. "This was not inherited from the Bush administration and it can't be passed off to [Obama's] successor. It really is Obama's alone. Whatever damage the decision would do to the environmental movement pales in comparison to the damage it would do to his own legacy."

Brune said Obama should veto the pipeline and pursue climate-friendly policies for their own sakes, not as part of a political deal. "It's hard to argue we should be developing new fossil fuel resources, but particularly such a carbon-intensive source as the Canadian tar sands." The danger to the climate of continuing on the current path demands strong steps like curbing coal-fired power and supporting renewables, he said.

Silicon Valley Group's Political Effort Raises Uproar examined the reaction to television spots bankrolled by Fwd.Us, a new nonprofit advocacy group created by Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. One of the TV spots, which ran in several states for a week, lauded the Keystone XL pipeline, prompting a coalition of groups including the Sierra Club to suspend buying advertising on Facebook.

Duvall told the Times the Sierra Club was especially disappointed to see the technology industry adopt a strategy that was more typical of old-fashioned, brass-knuckled Washington lobbying.

"When the ads came out they were politics as usual and divisive and pitting one issue against another," she said. "We were really surprised that Silicon Valley would be moving into the political space by doing the worst of business-as-usual politics."

The pro-Keystone TV spots took several prominent Fwd.Us backers who are also clean-energy boosters by surprise. "One hopes that most of our 21st-century tech leaders won't end up supporting 18th-century energy technology, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told PandoDaily, a Silicon Valley-focused web publication.

Take action: Go to Facebook and tell Zuckerberg to stop supporting Keystone XL and Arctic drilling.

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