As I noted recently, the pressure is building on the Keystone XL pipeline. 350.org and the many brothers and sisters who have been affiliating themselves with their actions to stop the pipeline – and indeed the tar sands development in Alberta – were in Washington in August and exercised their civil disobedience muscles. Hundreds were arrested. Tomorrow, thousands are committed to forming a ring around the White House to send a rather loud signal that this all really means something.
Think the President and the administration don’t know that something’s happening here? Well, President Obama was in Nebraska the other day and he took ownership of the issue for the first time. The good folks in Nebraska are not happy about the pipeline. In fact, they are seeking a full voice in the routing of the pipeline. The knee-jerk reaction of the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline? The Nebraskans might be acting in an unconstitutional manner. Tell you something about the mentality of the tar sands developers and the pipeline companies?
Obama’s statement on this gave a pretty clear signal that he’s really thinking about how hard he wants to piss the environmental movement in this country off. Sorry, maybe that’s not the most politic way of putting things. Let’s be positive: Let’s consider that the President knows that environmentalists would run through brick walls for him if he denies this permit. I would.
There are, to put it mildly, political risks involved in whatever decision is made. The folks in the campaign know this. I just believe that the risk is much greater to his campaign if he lets this go through, particularly now that he’s sent a signal to the opponents of the pipeline that he’s on the case. Political courage wins you more friends than caving. For me, that’s a given. I’ve seen it time and again. (Ask me sometime how Mark Green lost the New York mayoral election in 2001. In short, he caved to Rudolph Giuliani’s ludicrous request to be granted three extra months past the term of his office. When Mark said yes, owing to some really stupid advice from people he should’ve ignored, the air went out of the campaign. People who’d admired Mark for many years said: “The hell with it.” I had the chance recently to tell this story to an Obama fundraiser. Maybe my message to them, the same as thousands of others, is really getting through. Do the right thing!)
I can’t be in Washington tomorrow for the demonstration. I wish I could. It would take me back to my days protesting the Vietnam War and occasionally spending a day or two in jail. One of my proudest claims to fame is that I spent some time in jail with David Dellinger, the legendary apostle of non-violent civil disobedience.
Aside from it being the right thing to do, President Obama, denying the Keystone XL pipeline simply makes sense – particularly given how much you’ve been doing to make the transition to a decarbonized energy economy. Read my article at DeSmogBlog – The Paradox of Canada’s Tar Sands and America’s Drive to Substantially Decarbonize Energy. We are on your side. Let’s continue this good work together.
(For more on tomorrow’s action, and to support it if you can’t be there, check here with what the 350.org folks are lining up.)