With his approval rating among American voters at an all-time low, President Obama could use a little support from his peers. But this month nine fellow recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and the Dalai Lama, sent the president a letter urging him to veto the construction of a huge pipeline that would bring bring crude oil from Canada to the United States.
On Monday, the letter was published as an advertisement in The Washington Post. It reads in part: “The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership — and working together — the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal. You spoke of creating a clean energy economy. This is a critical moment to make good on that pledge.”
The ad was paid for by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
The Keystone XL pipeline would bring crude oil extracted from the rock under Canadian forests to the Texas coast for refining, traversing some of the Midwest’s most important aquifers en route.
Although the pipeline would give the United States a more plentiful and secure supply of oil, environmentalists say that it is a bad idea because the process of extracting oil from the rock creates a hefty dose of greenhouse gas emissions and could threaten precious ecosystems. They argue that the United States should be moving toward cleaner sources of energy anyway.
For much of the past year, the Obama administration has seemed to be dithering on whether to authorize the pipeline. The State Department, which is charged with authorizing pipelines that cross the nation’s borders, has twice issued environmental assessment reports that the Environmental Protection Agency criticized as inadequate. The administration is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.
The Nobel peace laureates say that proceeding with Keystone XL would cause great harm to the planet and be ethically wrong, whatever its economic advantages for the United States.
The letter concludes: “We urge you to say ‘no’ to the plan proposed by the Canadian-based company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, and to turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions.
“This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community: energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations,” the laureates write.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) - Ireland
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) - Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) - Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) - South Africa
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate (1989) - Tibet
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) - Guatemala
José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate (1996) - East Timor
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) - USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) - Iran