Biden must honor his commitment to shut down DAPL

Dear Friends,

[CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S PROGRAM: Oil pipelines, stem-cell therapy, how the US averted a coup, defunding the police, and our final 2020 gardening Q & A.]

Five years ago this month, President Obama canceled the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. On the way out the White House door, Obama also canceled the Dakota Access Pipeline. Of course, President Trump immediately reauthorized both pipelines as soon as he took office.

President Obama, flanked by Joe Biden and John Kerry, at the 2015 press conference announcing cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Even though we won and then lost those fights, a component of the message sent by Obama through those two actions is that climate change needs to be taken seriously. The Obama administration — including then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry — sent the message that new oil pipelines are dragging the US and our planet in the wrong direction. The clear, consistent, and scientific next step for President-elect Biden’s administration is to again cancel both pipelines, once and for all.

Given Biden’s strong statements in opposition to DAPL while in Iowa in 2019, cancelation of the pipeline is his only consistent choice.

Ed Fallon and Kathy Byrnes questioning Joe Biden on DAPL in Grinnell, Iowa, November 11, 2019.

As he campaigned across Iowa leading up to the Caucuses, Biden frequently spoke out against DAPL. Two of his statements are recorded in videos shot by Bold Iowa’s climate bird dogs. In the first, recorded on August 20, 2019, at Living History Farms, Kathy Byrnes asks Biden to speak out against DAPL. He responds, saying, “I opposed it to begin with.” (Watch that exchange here.)

Then on November 11, 2019, after a CNN forum at Grinnell College, I asked Biden if he would issue a statement against the proposal to double the flow of oil through DAPL. He says (after telling me I’m a pain in the neck), “Take my word, I’ve never broken my word. I’ve been opposed to the pipeline to begin with. The last thing we need is really dirty crude coming from Canada.”

I correct him, “This oil is from North Dakota.” Biden continues, “No, I got it, it’s from the North, and Dakota oil’s the same way. It’s high sulfur content. Folks, that’s not the direction we should be moving. We should be moving in the opposite direction.” (Watch that exchange here.)

If Biden is going to act on Keystone and DAPL, he needs to do it as soon as he is inaugurated. Construction on the DAPL expansion hasn’t yet begun in Iowa or Illinois, but it’s already underway in North Dakota and South Dakota. What Biden does on these two pipelines will tell us just how serious he is about addressing the climate crisis.


On this week’s Fallon Forum:

— Climate Update: Will Biden keep his promise to shut down pipelines? (01:46)
— Dynamic new film, “Ending Disease,” explores stem cell therapy, with Joe Gantz (14:08)
— We stopped a coup — for now (28:03)
— Eliminating racial bias in law enforcement, with Pascha Morgan (40:30)
— Final garden Q & A of the season, with Kathy Byrnes, Birds & Bees Urban Farm (54:48)

Watch our conversation with Kathy Byrnes on The Fallon Forum Facebook Page.

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Ed Fallon