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.