Today, 210,000 gallons of oil spilled from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. Our dependence on fossil fuels compromises the health of our environment, and we have had enough. The perils of fossil fuel extraction are well documented, and today’s spill is only the latest example in an industry fraught with environmental degradation and little real oversight or accountability. As the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt’s EPA grant favors to fossil fuel executives, we hurtle towards a point of no return when it comes to preserving our environment. Earlier this week, a group of 15,000 scientists issued a warning to the world that time is running out to stop the most calamitous effects of global climate change. We must heed their words and take action now before it is too late.
One year ago, I traveled to North Dakota with thousands of U.S. military veterans to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Together with the Standing Rock Sioux, Water Protectors from hundreds of native tribes, and thousands of environmental activists, we protested for tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and opposition to the greed and recklessness of companies like DAPL’s Energy Transfer Partners and Keystone’s TransCanada. We told the fossil fuel industry to keep it in the ground or risk the consequences that we are seeing today. I echo now what thousands of others said then: there is no such thing as a safe pipeline. From the Gulf of Mexico, where 672,000 gallons of oil were spilled earlier this month, to South Dakota, no community can claim immunity from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction. That is why these pipelines must be stopped entirely.
Despite what Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt may say, fossil fuels are on their way out. No other country in the world is clinging to the energy sources of the past like the United States. We are the only country left on the outside looking in at the Paris Climate Agreement. It makes no sense for American taxpayers to subsidize oil, coal, and natural gas while we eschew the technological investments that every other country on earth is making. So long as we fail to change our ways, we will lose out on the jobs and economic and environmental benefits that come from clean energy use.
My experience traveling to the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock was part of what inspired me to introduce the OFF Act in Congress this year. With this bill, we can actually heed what the scientific community has been calling for and mandate a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035, with an ambitious benchmark of reaching 80% renewable energy by 2027. Instead of subsidizing coal, oil, and natural gas, we can invest in jobs in clean energy, retrain displaced fossil fuel workers, and build a clean energy infrastructure that will lead to energy independence and lower utility bills for all.
Mni wiconi. Water is life. We must protect our people and our planet, not cave to corporate greed. That is why we need you in this fight, now and always, to ensure we care for our planet and secure a future that is sustainable for the generations to come.