Environmental groups welcomed Wednesday Senator John Kerry's confirmation as the new US secretary of state.
The US Senate, in an overwhelming majority vote of 94-3, confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice of the five-term senator on Tuesday night.
According to The Guardian, Kerry – who describes himself as a "passionate advocate" for environmental causes – has a long record of one of Senate's strongest campaigners for climate action.
Environmental groups said Kerry's appointment signaled "a willingness by the US to retake the lead on climate change" vis-à-vis the international community; adding that they hope Kerry will help deliver a win on one of their signature issue: Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands.
"His strong environmental record in the Senate and longtime leadership in the fight against climate change gives us hope that as secretary of state, he will reject the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline," Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement.
The Keystone XL pipeline project will take oil produced from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, 1,959 miles to Nederland, Texas. Green groups in North America vehemently oppose the project, saying it would render both Canada and the US' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions pointless.
Leading climate scientist James Hanson, said that "If the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 while burning oil.
"We cannot get back to a safe CO2 level if unconventional fossil fuels, like tar sands are exploited."
Kerry, in his confirmation hearings last week, made it clear he would be deeply involved in the final decision about the pipeline's fate.
President Obama will have the final say on the pipeline, but the State Department must also sign off on the project, because it crosses the US-Canadian border.
Kerry told the hearing he would make climate change a top priority at the State Department: "I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology, but based on facts, based on science," he said.
Kerry also used in his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to
raise concerns about climate change.
"The crisis is growing. Carbon pollution threatens to damage our children's health and radically and irreversibly alter our climate. It threatens to bring more famine and drought, worse pandemics, more natural disasters, and human displacement on a staggering scale. In an interconnected world, the instability that would trigger endangers all of us."