Former president Jimmy Carter has joined a group of Nobel laureates who oppose construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, warning President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, “You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change.”
Of course, Carter has about as much policy influence as Bill Moyers these days. But the Nobel winners are correct. Regardless of the actual climate impact of this particular pipeline, Keystone is the defining event on climate for President Obama. It tells the world whether the U.S. is a real leader on this issue or not. Rejecting it would say that the president is putting the world’s climate ahead of economic relations with a close ally. Approving it would say that the U.S. is never going to take world leadership on the issue.