Green Dream or Tar Sands Nightmare?
Above: Tom Weis in Rocket Trike Leaving Lincoln Elementary (photo by Ron Foster)
September 12 was the 51st anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Rice University moon shot speech, one of the greatest political speeches ever given about one of the greatest adventures of all time. I was a baby, less than two months old in my mother’s arms, when it was delivered. It was on that date, three years ago, that I launched the first Ride for Renewables to galvanize public support for a U.S.-led green energy “moon shot” (100% renewable electricity by 2020). Nearly every person I met on that amazing 2,500-mile “rocket trike” journey from Boulder, CO to Washington, DC supported this bold goal for America.
When I walked away from a lucrative wind industry career in 2010 to take my green dream on the road, I never thought I would be gearing up for a fourth ride in 2013. I certainly never imagined I would still be living out of a suitcase, but here it is three years later, and my stuff is still in storage. This less travelled road I chose has not always been easy, but it has provided me with an exceptional platform to speak my truth, and given how rapidly our climate has deteriorated these past three years, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I have decided to bring this unique chapter of my life to a close with one final 485-mile rocket trike ride to the White House this fall, not just to end the assault on America known as the southern leg of Keystone XL, but to keep the flame alive of the green dream I have for America.
Just as some doubted in the 1960s that we could land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, so do some doubt today that we can transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable electricity by 2020, but it is already happening around the world. My friends at the Renewables 100 Policy Institute are tracking communities that have already achieved 100% renewables in at least one energy sector (e.g. electricity, transportation). Tragically, our Congress and the White House are too busy doing the bidding of Big Oil to champion a green industrial revolution. Instead, they promote increasingly extreme fossil fuel schemes like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline climate disaster.
While beltway greens debate whether President Obama will or won’t approve a permit for Keystone’s prospective northern leg in 2014, TransCanada has been busy building the actual southern leg of Keystone XL, which is now 90% constructed and targeted for completion by the end of this year. Here’s the inconvenient truth about Keystone XL: TransCanada DOES NOT NEED THE PIPELINE’S NORTHERN LEG to begin pumping hundreds of thousands of barrels of toxic tar sands daily through America’s breadbasket for export overseas. They will accomplish this by simply connecting Keystone XL’s southern leg to Keystone I (the orange line on the map shown here) built by TransCanada in 2010.
If you have not yet signed our petition, please join us today in demanding that President Obama immediately stop the construction of Keystone XL’s southern leg. I WILL PERSONALLY DELIVER IT FOR YOU TO THE WHITE HOUSE THIS FALL.
I want to close by returning to the moon shot analogy and sharing with you President Kennedy’s famous speech as a reminder that we have it in our capacity as Americans to do seemingly impossible things. Kennedy’s words continue to inspire more than half a century later not just because of their bold vision, but because the president meant what he said, and delivered on his promise. For what he set in motion was not just a mission to explore space, but a mission to find ourselves. In the words of astronaut Bill Anders, who snapped the iconic “Earthrise” photo: “We came all this way to discover the moon. And what we really did discover is Earth.” I hope you will do yourself the favor of sitting down sometime and watching this riveting 18-minute speech. May it inspire you, as it inspires me, to dream big dreams of a future that can be.