The Democratic mayor and legislature of a New Mexico city hundreds of miles from the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline on Thursday officially endorsed illegal activity as a means to stop the pipeline’s continued construction.
The Santa Fe, N.M., city council voted on Thursday to endorse "civil disobedience" as a means to urge President Barack Obama to reject Canadian oil company TransCanada’s application with the State Department for the construction of the pipeline’s northern leg.
The city council "strongly support [sic] public expression of resistance to approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, up to and including peaceful, nonviolent and dignified expressions of civil disobedience," the resolution states.
Santa Fe mayor David Coss introduced the measure. Coss is a member of the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. While other members of the group have been charged with or convicted of crimes, Coss appears to be the first to have explicitly endorsed illegal activity in his capacity as mayor.
The pipeline does not actually pass through Santa Fe, or anywhere near it. An existing segment of the project runs through Cushing, Okla., about 600 miles east of Santa Fe.
Coss’ reasoning behind his strong anti-Keystone stance and its connection to Santa Fe were vague.
"Climate change is happening, we see it with drought and forest fires," Coss said of the resolution. "Santa Fe needs to be part of the solution and not part of the problem on climate change."
City council members claimed that climate change caused by the burning of Canadian tar sands oil, which the Keystone pipeline would carry to Gulf Coast refineries, would harm Santa Fe residents.
"The Keystone XL Pipeline would increase climate changing emissions yearly by 24.3 million tons," claimed councilor Patti Bushee. "It is incumbent upon us to act boldly when dealing with the real threat of climate change and its impact on our environment."
Recent studies have shown that emissions associated with tar sands are lower than previously believed, and that dire warnings about the safety of pipeline transportation are overblown.
Oil companies hoping to extract tar sands crude are already building rail transportation infrastructure, and the oil is expected to be extracted and burned regardless of the Obama administration’s decision on Keystone.