A Challenge to Lynch

Our climate is in crisis, and Massachusetts voters are presented with a stark choice this primary season, between Stephen Lynch, who supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Ed Markey, who opposes it.  Recognizing the national implications of this campaign, four young leaders from the Commonwealth have asked clean energy philanthropist Tom Steyer to help Commonwealth voters better understand precisely what is at stake. Climate Change is a real, urgent, and grave threat, and a vote for this pipeline is a vote against our future. As a result, we are issuing Congressman Lynch the below challenge, in partnership with Mr. Steyer:

For a PDF of the letter,click here: Open letter to Rep Lynch

March 18, 2013

Representative Stephen Lynch
Stephen F. Lynch for Senate
13 Temple Street
Quincy, MA 02169

Dear Congressman Lynch:

Global climate disruption is affecting Massachusetts from the Cape to the Berkshires. The recent string of climate change-driven extreme weather is costing the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars. And, science confirms the seriousness of the crisis: 2012 was the hottest year in four millennia, with the second-highest global warming pollution levels in 54 years.

We have to solve the problem now in large part through smart policies that invest in a clean energy future for our next generation. Nowhere does this policy drive matter more today than the Massachusetts Senate Democratic primary between Congressmen Ed Markey and you. In short, climate change is on the ballot on April 30 as it never has been before.

On a number of Democratic issues, you have sided with Republicans, opposing a woman’s right to choose and the President’s health care plan. However, nowhere is your issue orientation clearer than on climate change, our biggest environmental crisis. You were one of just 26 Democrats to stand with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the infamous Koch brothers in support of the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline, the defining climate change issue of today.

Keystone might not run through Massachusetts, but its construction would be the decidedly wrong energy option for the Commonwealth and America. This isn’t just another pipeline. It’s a 40-year financial commitment to extract tar sands (amongst the dirtiest forms of oil), which will drive up the pollution that is contributing to extreme weather, hurting our economy and threatening our children’s health.

Saying you’re for solving climate change while supporting Keystone is like claiming to be a Red Sox fan – except when they play the Yankees.

Given those facts, why support this pipeline? Keystone proponents such as yourself make two big, false claims.

First, proponents claim that Keystone will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs.” However, the vast majority of jobs will be temporary construction jobs, and a recent U.S. State Department report – written by a contractor of Keystone’s corporate backer – identified only 35 permanent jobs that will be created by Keystone.

Second, you and other Keystone supporters say the dirty oil it carries will help American energy “independence.” Keystone is backed by a foreign conglomerate, TransCanada, that won’t commit to keeping its oil in the U.S. – not during testimony to Congress and not to the business community. The oil is likely to be shipped across 2,000 miles of Midwestern U.S. agricultural areas and near major aquifers, refined in Texas, and then shipped as a cheap source of fuel to China and the rest of Asia. Note this would all be done by an industry with a track record of major disasters.

Keystone is a win for foreign competitors that will get cheap energy to compete against the US. But it is a loss for America, which will get stuck with the wrong energy investment and decades of pollution to boot.

Because climate change is such a serious issue, and because it is on the ballot as never before, we are asking you, Congressman Lynch, today to do one of two things by high noon on Friday, March 22. Either act like a real Democrat and oppose Keystone’s dirty energy. Or, get a sworn, binding statement – with securities law enforcement – from TransCanada and the refiners that all of the Keystone-shipped oil will stay here.

If you can’t or won’t do either, then you’ll be showing us that you stand with Republicans and a wealthy foreign oil company and against solving the climate crisis. You’ll be standing for the wrong energy future for America.

We will then immediately launch an aggressive public education campaign, including: investigative reports about your record, public events targeting interested Democratic voters, a college-based get-out-the-vote effort, community-to-community activity in cities and towns with the worst childhood asthma rates, and a robust social media effort to help voters understand that their climate interest is on the ballot.

What say you, Congressman Lynch?


Tom Steyer, clean energy philanthropist
Craig S. Altemose, Executive Director, Better Future Project*, Somerville, MA
Emily Edgerly, Tufts University Class of 2015, Lexington, MA
Elana Sulakshana, Buckingham Browne & Nichols Class of 2013, Newton, MA
James B. Sowell, University of Massachusetts Amherst Class of 2013, Granby, MA

*Affiliation for identification purposes only. All are signing only as private individuals without any organizational backing.


12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Nice letter!

    I’d love to see Congressman Lynch’s response – waiting…

  2. #NOKXL

    Thanks for weighing in. We know Lynch has done a lot for labor, but he has some archaic views on several issues: women’s right to choose and LGBT issues are two, and energy is a third. We need a visionary view on power to lead us out of the current crisis, reduce pollution and invest in our future.

  3. great writeup

    Even apart from the connection to our senate race, this is a great writeup on the Keystone issue. I will have to quote from this and refer people to your post. Thanks!

  4. Its important to get the word out

    EB3 is half right that most people who are paying attention to this race do not know the candidates positions on climate change-but where he is wrong is that when they get informed the choice is clear for Markey and against Lynch.

    Case in point: talked to my dad and my brother over the weekend. Dad was a lean Markey, brother was a lean Lynch. Now they are both for Markey and its because of this issue and the ACA vote. Spread the word.

    And Markey needs to get an ad out emphasizing his blue collar roots since a good chunk of voters may just decide and give ‘that humble ironworker’ the nod without realizing where he stands on the issues.

  5. "I am Ed Markey"

    Great post, Craig. Contra Lynch’s ad, “I am Ed Markey.” It’s a sign ‘o the times–and a positive one, for a change–when being a climate hawk isn’t a political liability, and you can actually go on the offensive on issues like Keystone.
    I’d point that organizations like Craig’s Better Future Project have played no small part in this development, especially here in MA. I’ve been really impressed with the work he and his team have done over the years.

  6. Lynch is for coal, oil & tar sands?

    Lynch campaign responds:

    “The congressman, like President Obama, supports an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy policy, and he’s not going to be swayed in his position by ultimatums and threats.”

    Lynch saying he’s “all of the above” is the same as saying he’s for coal, oil, and tar sands. Our next senator should be ready to make the tough choices necessary to cut carbon pollution, not a yes man for big polluters.

    • Obama attempted (and failed miserably) to win over coal country with that attitude. Lynch has no excuse, this is Massachusetts and we want a clean environment for our citizens and responsible energy independence. Period.

      • From a strictly parochial viewpoint...

        Our fossil-fuel power plants rely on fuel extracted out of our region. Money and jobs are exported. By focusing on energy efficiency, wind, and solar, we create more local jobs, increase the total dollars spent on energy which remain local, and simultaneously decrease the total dollars spent on energy.

        Ratepayers see lower bills, and the number of jobs in the energy industry within our Commonwealth increase.

        • While this logic may escape DFW, the purely selfish ‘create jobs in MA’ argument falls to our side as well. Why create 600 jobs in South Dakota when we could create hundreds if not thousands here? Why not become the Saudia Arabia of alternative energy? We already have a tone of solar and fuel cell companies right here in Cambridge and Boston, not to mention giant untapped wind and tidal power resources off our coast. Could be the next biotech. But yeah vote for the Senator that will create temporary jobs in South Dakota over the one who will create an industry in MA.

          • We need not be "Saudi Arabia"

            In terms of resource, the north-south line of states from North Dakota to Texas is the “Saudi Arabia” of wind, and the SoCal-SoNev-AZ part of the USA is the “Saudi Arabia” of solar.

            We need not get to the point where renewables supply all of our Commonwealth’s needs, plus heavy exports for others. Hell, we need not get to the point where we acquire all of our electricity generation from renewables in-state. It’s perfectly OK to import. Methinks its better for our economy to import wind power from Vermont than coal from Venezuela; better to import wind power from New York than gas from New Orleans. We small northeastern states benefit when our neighbors do well, and we share jobs and infrastructure.

            So, we need not strive to be Saudi Arabia. Let’s just focus on implementing energy efficiency measures for both electric and heating/cooling, on siting both larger renewable projects and small, distributed projects, and in taking a regional approach to ensuring that there is sufficient transmission capabilities to allow for us to steadily reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

  7. I predict

    that if a response is ever sent, which I doubt. It will say something akin to:

    Dear Voter:

    Thank you for your letter. It is important that you remember there is a primary on April 30th. Please vote for Lynch.


    The Lynch Campaign

    It will probably include campaign flyers, but will in no way address Climate Change. We should have a pool on when the response will arrive.

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