Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Tom Steyer

Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press

Billionaire anti-Keystone XL activist Tom Steyer wants to rally legions of digital-savvy Obama supporters to persuade the President that Canadian oil sands crude poses a threat to the United States.

The wealthy Californian upped the ante Thursday in the high-stakes political showdown over Keystone XL by launching a social media campaign aimed at re-awakening the fervent hordes of mostly, young Obama supporters.

The long-delayed $5.3-billion Keystone project would deliver Alberta's vast oil sands bitumen to world markets through an 830,000-barrel-a-day pipeline snaking across the American heartland to Gulf Coast refineries.

Story continues below advertisement

"We're going to call this campaign 'We love our land' and it's going to take from today through Labour Day and hopefully it will mobilize supporters who want to help the President fight for forward-looking climate policies and start that by blocking the Keystone pipeline that threatens our nation," Mr. Steyer said at a National Press Club news conference that featured a jar of Canadian heavy crude being theatrically poured across a poster bearing the name of the project's sponsor TransCanada Corp.

In a simultaneous announcement, more than 140 former Obama campaign workers issued a public letter to the president that, in effect, challenged him not to betray their trust.

"You have been the source of our hope and inspiration," said the letter. "Please don't disappoint us, reject Keystone XL," adding that many voted for Mr. Obama because "we told them you'd be on the right side of history, …. Because we knew you would do the right thing and stop this pipeline."

Although environmental groups along with small bands of landowners and indigenous peoples along Keystone XL's route have mounted spirited and growing protests to the project, it has yet to ignite as a major national issue.

If Mr. Steyer's is willing to back the digital campaign with significant funding, it could pose the most serious threat yet to the project changes of winning presidential approval later this year.

Rejecting Keystone XL "is the biggest 'no-brainer' that will cross the president's desk" during his eight years on the Oval Office, said Van Jones, a former special advisor to the president, who used the same phase – albeit suggesting a different outcome – that Prime Minister Stephen Harper used to describe the pipeline decision.

Mr. Jones, like Mr. Steyer and others including major anti-Keystone XL groups are now publicly rejecting suggestions that Mr. Obama may attempt some sort of a grand bargain on the pipeline project by announcing tougher carbon emissions limits for coal-fired power plants first to burnish his green credentials and then approving the pipeline.

Story continues below advertisement

TransCanada is now squarely in the crosshairs of anti-Keystone XL activists who increasingly vilify the company.

"This is not about energy independence for Americans: TransCanada is not an American corporation, TransCanada is a shady foreign corporation that's being sued and investigated in its own country," Mr. Jones said. "How giving a shady foreign corporation the right to risk our air and water is going to give us energy independence when we know that oil's going to China, … makes no sense."

Increasingly opponents of Keystone XL are attacking the key argument advanced by the Canadian government that buying crude from a nearby and reliable neighbour is in America's interests especially when compared to sometimes hostile and faraway regimes.

But Mr. Steyer said the case for Keystone "doesn't stand up against serious scrutiny."

He said Keystone XL, if built, would perversely drive up U.S. gasoline prices by draining the glut of heavily discounted Canadian crude currently depressing prices. He said only a handful of jobs would be created. "If we were really interested in jobs, we would be moving to … an advanced energy economy which would, in fact, create millions of jobs, not 35 jobs." As for the "very dirty oil from tar sands transported by the Keystone pipeline is going to make our climate crisis worse when we need to be solving it."

He also dismissed the widely touted Canadian claim that Alberta's vast oil sands reserves will be extracted and moved to market, whether or not Keystone XL is built. "Basically that argument is that we should do the wrong thing before anyone else does," he said, adding that in the wake of British Columbia's unwillingness to approve a pipeline to funnel oil sands crude to the west coast, it is even more important to reject Keystone XL.

Story continues below advertisement

"We really cannot afford 40 to 50 years of development of a humungous oil reserve that is twice as bad – soup to nuts – as normal crude," he said.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies