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Scientific community urging Obama to shoot down pending Canadian oil pipeline

A group of 20 prominent scientists have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20050

August 3, 2011

President Obama:

We are researchers at work on the science of climate change and allied fields. We are writing to add our voices to the indigenous leaders, religious leaders, and environmentalists calling on you to block the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s tar sands.

The tar sands are a huge pool of carbon, but one that does not make sense to exploit. It takes a lot of energy to extract and refine this resource into useable fuel, and the mining is environmentally destructive. Adding this on top of conventional fossil fuels will leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control. It makes no sense to build a pipeline system that would practically guarantee extensive exploitation of this resource.

When other huge oil fields or coal mines were opened in the past, we knew much less about the damage that the carbon they contained would do to the Earth’s climate system and to its oceans. Now that we do know, it’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy—and that we leave the tar sands in the ground. We hope those so inclined will join protests scheduled for August and described at tarsandsaction.org.

If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is “in the national interest.” As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.

Sincerely,

James Hansen

Research Scientist

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society

The Earth Institute, Columbia University

John Abraham

Associate Professor, School of Engineering

University of St. Thomas

Dean Abrahamson

Professor Emeritus Energy & Environment Policy

University of Minnesota

David Archer

Professor, Geophysical Sciences Department

The University of Chicago

Jason Box

Associate Professor, Department of Geography

Atmospheric Sciences Program

Researcher at Byrd Polar Research Center

The Ohio State University

Ken Caldeira

Senior Scientist

Department of Global Ecology

Carnegie Institution

Peter Gleick

President and Co-founder

Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security

Richard A. Houghton

Senior Scientist

Woods Hole Research Center

Robert W. Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology

Cornell University

Ralph Keeling

Director, Scripps CO2 Program

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Donald Kennedy

President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences, Emeritus

Institute for International Studies

Stanford University

Michael MacCracken

Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs

Climate Institute

Michael E. Mann

Professor of Meteorology

Director, Earth System Science Center

The Pennsylvania State University

James McCarthy

Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography

Harvard University

Michael Oppenheimer

Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs

Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences

Princeton University

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences

The University of Chicago

Steve Running

Professor of Ecology, Director of Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group

Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences

College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana

Richard Somerville

Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Ray J. Weymann

Director Emeritus, Carnegie Observatories

Member, National Academy of Sciences

George M. Woodwell

Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist

Woods Hole Research Center

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