Keystone XL: The Science, Stakes, and Strategy Behind the Fight Over the Tar Sands Pipeline

Miss Thursday’s event? No problem—watch it here:

Watch live streaming video from climatenexus at livestream.com

On February 17, more than 40,000 people rallied in Washington to convince the president to reject the Keystone XL, a proposed 875-mile pipeline running from the Canadian border into Nebraska and slated to transport oil from tar sands (which is 17 percent more greenhouse gas intensive than standard crude oil). The crowds outside the White House provided overwhelming proof that opposing Keystone has mobilized a new and powerful grassroots constituency.

But in the US Senate, the mood was different. In a nonbinding vote, 62 Senators—including 17 pro-Keystone Democrats—voted to approve the pipeline. Just 37 Senators voted against it. In fact, the amendment was co-sponsored by four Democrats, including Max Baucus of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

So are activists’ efforts all in vain? What will happen to the environmental movement if President Obama ultimately lets Keystone go forward?

And more broadly: What does this say about the best strategy for fighting climate change? Does compromise, horse-trading, and winning industry allies ultimately work best—or do you have to push the limits of the possible? You’re invited to the next Climate Desk Live event—hosted by myself—for a debate and discussion between some of the leading voices on this issue:

May Boeve, executive director and co-founder, 350.org.

David Roberts, Grist magazine, who has been covering Keystone regularly and recently wrote about the “Virtues of Being Unreasonable on Keystone.”

Michael Levi, director of the program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the new book The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle For America’s Future (Oxford, May 2013), where he writes that combating climate change will require “doing deals [with those] who want to expand production of oil and gas.”

Michael Grunwald, senior national correspondent for Time magazine, author of The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, who recently declared that on Keystone, “I’m with the Tree Huggers!

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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