Friday, March 23, 2012
Bill McKibben on Obama's Keystone XL Reversal
We’re in the middle of the hottest spring week America has ever seen, it makes it ironic almost to the point of parody that the president is still lauding pipelines and drilling rigs alongside solar panels and advanced batteries, as if all forms of energy were equally benign.
[The President's reversal on the Keystone XL] comes amidst a completely unprecedented March heat wave—2,000 records fell last week as cities like Chicago broke records dating back to the 19th century, and that heat is expected to move towards the eastern seaboard this week; meanwhile, record levels of atmospheric moisture are expected to trigger flooding in Texas and Oklahoma. It comes on the tail of a year when America set a new record for multi-billion dollar weather disasters. And it comes on his first visit to the Sooner State since it set the all-time American record for the hottest summer by any state—the average reading for June, July and August was 86.9 degrees, breaking the old record (also Oklahoma, this time 1934) by an astonishing 1.7 degrees. In other words, if there was ever a moment for talking about global warming, this would be it.
Amidst the many environmental disappointments of the Obama administration—the fizzled Copenhagen conference, the opening of vast swathes of the Arctic to drilling and huge stretches of federal land across the northern Plains to coal-mining, the failure to work for climate legislation in the Senate, the shameful blocking of regulations to control ozone—the president has done one somewhat brave thing. He responded to the largest outpouring of environmental enthusiasm so far this millennium and denied a permit for the main Keystone XL pipe from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.
Cynics said he did so just to avoid disappointing young people before the election, and pointed out that he invited pipeline proponent Transcanada to reapply for the permit. It’s hard not to wonder if those cynics might be right.
True, the most critical part of the pipeline still can’t be built—thanks to Obama and 42 Democratic Senators, the connection to Canada remains blocked, and hence that remains a great victory for the people who rallied so fiercely all fall. But the sense grows that Obama may be setting us up for a bitter disappointment—that his real allegiance is to the carbon barons. In recent weeks he’s been talking tough about removing subsidies for the oil industry, a good idea that many of us will work hard to achieve—but so far he hasn’t mentioned by far the most important subsidy, the fact that unlike every other industry fossil fuel gets to dump its main waste product, carbon, into the atmosphere for free.
And if you think about it, “all of the above” is not a particularly coherent energy policy, not if one worries about climate change. Burning all the oil you can and then putting up a solar panel is like drinking six martinis at lunch and then downing a VitaminWater. You’re still a drunk—just one with your daily requirement of C and D. If a presidential candidate said they had an “all of the above” foreign policy, where every other nation was an equal ally, they’d be thought lightweight or even dangerous.
But with energy, it apparently seems politic to insist we need never make a choice. Or at least to tailor your talking points to your audience.
Obama to Expedite the Keystone XL Pipeline
The Center for Biological Diversity CREDO and Friends of the Earth Slam Keystone Reversal
Indigenous People and Students Protest Obama's Reversal on Keystone XL
Republicans Vow to Continue Push for Keystone
GOP's Keystone XL Proposal Fails in Senate
Anti-Keystone XL Ad Campaign
The Keystone XL and Rising Fuel Prices
Video: Keystone XL will Raise Gas Prices
Republicans Refuse to Let the Keystone XL Die
Keystone XL Protest Message Campaign a Success
Resistance to Republican Efforts to Resurrect the Keystone XL Pipeline
Obama Cancels the Keystone XL Pipeline Project
Republicans Use Blackmail to Gain Support for the Keystone XL Pipeline
President Obama Stops Keystone XL Pipeline
Tar Sands Day of Action in Washington
President Obama and the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline
NRDC November 6 Protest Against the Keystone XL in Washington DC
Nebraska's Special Session to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline
Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska
State Department Hearings for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
Cornell University Questions the Economic Benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington
Oil Spills Add to Concerns about the Keystone XL Pipeline
Nobel Prize Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Religious Leaders Join the Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline
US Protests Against the Tar Sands Oil
Canada on Track to be a Dirty Energy Superpower
Bill McKibben and other Protestors Jailed for their Opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Video: NASA's Leading Climatologist Addresses Crowd Before he was Arrested at the Keystone XL Tar Sands Protest in Washington