Bill McKibbon on Keystone XL
Via Tom Dispatch:
And so, as I said, I’ll go to this weekend’s big celebrations for the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Washington Mall with even more respect for his calm power.
Preacher, speaker, writer under fire, but also tactician. He really understood the power of nonviolence, a power we’ve experienced in the last few days. When the police cracked down on us [#162] , the publicity it produced cemented two of the main purposes of our protest:
First, it made Keystone XL -- the new, 1,700-mile-long pipeline we’re trying to block that will vastly increase the flow of “dirty” tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico -- into a national issue. A few months ago, it was mainly people along the route of the prospective pipeline who were organizing against it. (And with good reason: tar sands mining has already wrecked huge swaths of native land in Alberta, and endangers farms, wild areas, and aquifers all along its prospective route.)
As we keep saying: There's stuff happening below the national level, and not covered by our famously free press, everywhere. Wouldn't it be nice if the anti-Keystone XL, anti-Fracking, and anti-mountaintop removal efforts unified? Because (a) the issues are all the same: Rentiers extracting carbon, and turning this country into the sort of second-world country where that's the political economy, while poisoning the planet, and (b) the elite playbook is always the same: Neighbor against neighbor, local corruption, and in the end, devastated groundwater. We've got exactly the same thing up here, except with landfills (which also target marginal communities with little leverage against the rentiers and their imperial center).
Now, however, people are coming to understand -- as we hoped our demonstrations would highlight -- that it poses a danger to the whole planet as well. After all, it’s the Earth’s second largest pool of carbon, and hence the second-largest potential source of global warming gases after the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. We’ve already plumbed those Saudi deserts. Now the question is: Will we do the same to the boreal forests of Canada. As NASA climatologist James Hansen has made all too clear, if we do so it’s “essentially game over for the climate.” That message is getting through. Witness the incredibly strong New York Times editorial opposing the building of the pipeline that I was handed on our release from jail.
Second, being arrested in front of the White House helped make it clearer that President Obama should be the focus of anti-pipeline [pro- ______] activism. For once Congress isn’t in the picture. The situation couldn’t be simpler: the president, and the president alone, has the power either to sign the permit* that would take the pipeline through the Midwest and down to Texas (with the usual set of disastrous oil spills to come) or block it.
Barack Obama has the power to stop it and no one in Congress or elsewhere can prevent him from doing so.
Yep. Gee, I wonder what Obama will do?
NOTE * The permitting process is key to all of these battles, including landfills.