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Letters: UK must back US stand on tar sand oil

The decision by President Obama to reject a major new pipeline that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands into the US represents more than the president standing up to cynicism of Congressional Republicans and the threats of the oil industry to wreak electoral revenge in this year’s election (United States: Setback for big oil: Obama rejects Keystone pipeline, 19 January). It is a major opportunity for David Cameron and Nick Clegg to withdraw their support for the Canadian government and Big Oil in pursuing what is one of the most environmentally destructive projects ever.

All eyes are now on Europe where countries are debating proposals – the EU’s fuel quality directive – that would effectively ban oil derived from tar sands from entering European forecourts. The UK should seize the opportunity that President Obama’s brave stand has created, and stop lobbying against these proposals.

Three months ago the Keystone pipeline looked sure to be approved; now the tar sands industry is facing real obstacles in getting to market. The European plan would be another important milestone in stopping the expansion of tar sands exploitation. Obama’s decision hasn’t just been praised by environmental groups, but also by labour unions and thousands of citizens across America and around the globe.

Cameron can now also show international leadership. The world waits to see if he will side – like Obama – with the people, or with the polluters.
Bill McKibben
Schumann Distinguished Scholar,
Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, US © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds