Former staffers on the Obama 2012 campaign have released an open letter Thursday encouraging President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and not “disappoint” the people who helped elect him, tightening the vise around the president as the no-win decision approaches.
The pipeline has become a political touchstone for both parties, with Republicans pointing to it as an example of overregulation and Obama’s unfriendly attitude to business and Democratic climate activists have warned of an environmental disaster if it is constructed.
The pipeline, which would transport Canadian heavy crude to refineries on the gulf coast, must pass a final State Department environmental assessment and a determination that it is in the national interest.
The White House has asserted that it has no role in the process—a position that hasn’t appeased either side. “That’s a process that is operated out of the State Department and I would refer you to the State Department for updates on,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week.
The letter invokes Obama’s comments to staffers across the country on the day after the election. “For so long you have been the source of our hope and inspiration,” the letter, signed by 145 former staffers, states. “Please don’t disappoint us. Reject Keystone XL.”
Former Obama aides Bill Burton, Stephanie Cutter, Jim Papa and Paul Tewes consult for opponents of the project, The Washington Post reported last month, while former White House communications director Anita Dunn’s communications firm works for the pipeline’s developer, TransCanada.
Andrew Nazdin, who worked as a Deputy Training Director for Obama for America in Virginia in 2012 and is now the Field Director for Energy Action Coalition, said in a statement that Obama has repeatedly promised action on climate change and he risks going back on his word if he approves the pipeline.
“Climate change is a top issue for the youth voters that worked day-in and day-out to elect President Obama — the president promised action and we are going to hold him to his word, lead on climate, and reject Keystone XL,” he said. The letter sent by the former staffers is below: