Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto yesterday joined a dozen activists, including the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, in an acutely personal plea that Secretary of State John Kerry reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
The activists reminded Kerry of his congressional testimony against the Vietnam War on Earth Day 1971, during which the future lawmaker famously wondered: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The $5.4 billion oil sands crude pipeline, Leto and his cohorts continued in their letter, represents "an even bigger mistake -- the imminent threat of catastrophic climate disruption."
"We dare to believe," the signatories told Kerry, "that it's not just an accident of history that this recommendation falls to you."
The request was co-signed by Leto, best known before his Oscar nod for his turn in the 1990s TV series "My So-Called Life"; Conor Kennedy, the political scion previously linked to pop star Taylor Swift who was arrested alongside his father in an anti-pipeline protest last year; and Ben Gotschall, energy director of the anti-KXL group Bold Nebraska, among others.
The letter circulated on the eve of the final day that the State Department plans to accept public comments on KXL, an incendiary totem of the nation's energy culture wars that would ship upward of 700,000 daily barrels of heavy Canadian crude to U.S. refineries if approved.
Both camps in the intense battle over KXL are vowing to deliver hundreds of thousands of comments to State, where officials have two more months to consult with other federal agencies under a 2004 executive order that governs approval of cross-border oil pipelines. Following the Leto letter, environmentalists released another missive signed by 100 female executives and political donors -- including Zipcar CEO Robin Chase and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
A final decision on the pipeline, however, is not expected until summer at the earliest and could stretch past the 2014 midterm elections, during which a passel of vulnerable Democrats stand to face significant industry pressure to embrace the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline.