Is The Fight Over Keystone A Corporate-Funded Distraction?

by lizard

In both his inauguration speech and state of the union speech, President Obama talked about addressing climate change. He prodded Congress to find a “bipartisan, market-based solution” and indicated quite clearly that if Congress is not capable of doing it, then he would take executive action. What kind of action? This Politico piece highlights the hint dropped by Obama:

Obama said in his State of the Union address that he is prepared to take action if Congress doesn’t act, but he didn’t detail what that action might look like. He hinted during the chat Thursday that it could resemble what his administration did to require higher fuel efficiency standards in automobiles.

“The same steps that we took with respect to energy efficiency on cars, we can take on buildings, we can take on appliances, we can make sure that new power plants that are being built are more efficient than the old ones, and we can continue to put research and our support behind clean energy that is going to continue to help us transition away from dirtier fuels,” he said.

The recent flashpoint for climate change has been the opposition to the Keystone pipeline. The high profile arrests that happened last Wednesday included Montana writer Rick Bass.

Montana writer Rick Bass was in distinguished company Wednesday when he was arrested in front of the White House along with nearly 50 high-profile activists who demonstrated in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Civil rights leaders and environmental activists like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., actress Daryl Hannah, writer Bill McKibben, social activist Julian Bond, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, and Sierra Club executive director Mike Brune were among the notable leaders who attended the peaceful demonstration. All were arrested for their display of civil disobedience.

After his arrest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had this to say:

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: I think President Obama is going to kill the pipeline.

INTERVIEWER: Why do you say that?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Because I think it’s the right thing to do, and I think he knows that. And I think he—you know, I think he has a strong moral core, and I think John Kerry does, too. And I think, ultimately, he would not do something that is—that is this catastrophic and irresponsible and reckless.

Obama’s appointment for Secretary of State, John Kerry, said recently a decision on the Keystone pipeline will be coming in the “near term”.

Pressure for action is building. Even the Government Accountability Office recently included climate change in its annual update of its High Risk Series report. That should inspire Congress to act, right?

As celebrities and professional climate activists generate headlines and momentum to kill the Keystone pipeline deal to transport tar sand gunk across America, there are those who remain critical of the allegedly corporate co-opted approach to climate change activism. One of those critics, Michael Donnelly, recently wrote an article titled Tweeting as the World Burns. This is how Donnelly concludes his article:

Before the astroturf Climate Movement was paid to never mention Consumption and to always tout fantasy energy solutions as the answer – said wind, solar, etc. fantasy energy being a tax swindle bubble that benefits the very corporations that fund this distraction, Bill McKibben wrote a great piece on Consumption. We’ve wasted crucial decades by not addressing and finding solutions to the real underlying cause – Consumption and Population. You have to go back to February 1985 to find a full month that was not warmer than the long-time norm. These corporate-sponsored diversions have cost us precious time; of which we have little.

I’ll predict right now that Obama will end up approving the pipeline with a slightly different “more ecologically-sensitive” route. It will be coupled with a Carbon Tax which will dedicate a large amount of the income to the “renewable” swindle. This package will be called a “major victory” by Big Green Central and the foundations’ billion dollar Climate Campaign. (Canada will succeed in getting any tax at the Tar Sands source tossed as an unfair restraint of trade – thank you neolib Free Trade agreements.)

A fellow activist notes, “That we’ve wasted time even talking about the pipeline is EXACTLY what the corporate masters who bought the environmental movement had hoped for. The pipeline has zero to do with what happens next, and they know it. They have to just wonder at the stupidity of so-called environmentalists — dumber than they even thought.”

Too harsh? Time will tell. And with patterns of warming happening faster than many scientists first predicted, we have less time than previously anticipated.

  1. lizard19

    how pissed will Canada be if the pipeline is not approved?

    Choosing his words carefully, Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States, said the two countries had come to expect each other’s support on critical issues.

    “Sometimes the call comes from a U.S. president to a Canadian prime minister, and sometimes it comes the other way,” he said. “So the decision has to be made on merit and not noise. And if people in Canada perceive that the decision is made on noise, there will be extreme disappointment.”

    Experts who follow United States-Canada relations say that they do not expect Ottawa to retaliate overtly if the Keystone project is not approved, but that a rejection could influence future decisions on purchases of American F-35 fighter jets and other trade and border matters.

    Canada has powerful allies in the United States labor movement, which is pushing for the pipeline because it would generate an estimated 30,000 jobs, and in big oil companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron that are heavily invested in the oil sands fields.

  2. Craig Moore

    IMHO, this pipeline will not be built. Waren Buffet has invested heavily in rail to move Bakken oil on the BNSF. Second with the purchase of Heinz by Buffet, John Kerry and his wife stands to make mega millions on the deal. The Heinz foundation has given something close to 10 million to Tides which, in turn, launders the money out to other groups like the ones protesting the pipeline.

    Kerry will decided the pipeline.

  3. larry kurtz

    KXL will never be built, even Craig seems to get it for once: how unfortunate that he’s illiterate.

  4. Keystone XL is absolutely an enormous distraction, and I’ve been saying it for years. Attempting to cut of the supply of fossil fuels is no smarter than trying to stem the supply of drugs. It comes down to consumption, pure and simple. It’s relatively easy to complain about a pipeline or complain about coal exports or what have you; it’s even possible to delay or inconvenience the extraction of fossil fuels, but what we need is an actual lifestyle change. That is much more difficult, but until environmentally concerned people start to voluntarily change their lifestyles to reduce their own fossil fuel consumption, they can’t expect much success trying to use the state to enforce lifestyle changes.

    • JC

      “until environmentally concerned people start to voluntarily change their lifestyles to reduce their own fossil fuel consumption”

      And what makes you think that millions of us haven’t?

      • The Polish Wolf

        Never said we haven’t. But not enough millions, it would seem.

        • JC

          So the people who have committed themselves to lowered carbon footprints shouldn’t be active until a critical mass is reached?

          Wy criticize those who have affected “actual lifestyle change” when they are trying to bring attention on the issues to those who haven’t?

          Or are you just charging activists with being hypocrites. because it’s easier to do that than to change yourself?

  5. Big Swede

    We need expensive gasoline.

    More people in this state need to ride bicycles.

  6. larry kurtz

    Nebraska Public Power District officials said they won’t be able to build the transmission lines by the deadline TransCanada set for the end of 2014. NPPD Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent said there’s no way the transmission lines will be ready by 2015, the Columbus Telegram reported. NPPD expects to spend $44 million on the transmission lines, but TransCanada will have to reimburse the utility regardless of whether the pipeline is ultimately built.

  7. Matthew Koehler

    While I salute the dedication of Rick Bass to the climate change issue and also his opposition to Otter Creek Coal, it’s very ironic to me that Bass has also been a big cheerleader of Senator Tester’s effort to mandate a 7-fold increase in industrial logging on the high and dry Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest by changing our nation’s public lands policy to grease the wheels for the timber industry. Bass also strongly supports mandated logging of critical grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenai National Forest and the use of taxpayer funds to build and construct wood-burning biomass plants throughout Montana, which new research has shown can create as much pollution as burning coal.

    Furthermore, isn’t it somewhat ironic that Bass would go around calling those who have substantive concerns with Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill “extremists?” Or that Bass would publicly criticize a recent timber sale lawsuit on the Lolo National Forest, which was filed by local enviros over concerns about critical habitat for lynx, bull trout, grizzly bears and old-growth forests? Or how about this one….In a Missoulian oped on that lawsuit, Bass expressed concern that four environmental groups were trying to hold the Forest Service accountable to the law and science, and instead Bass claimed that “discussion, cooperation and collaboration” were needed for 21st century forest management.

    Wait, you mean this public lashing of some enviro groups and those using the our nation’s laws and the federal court system to hold the government accountable is coming from the same guy who was just blocking the road in front of the White House and handcuffing his hand to the White House gate in an act of civil disobedience? Why doesn’t Bass follow his own advice and see how far “discussion, cooperation and collaboration” get him with the coal industry or the oil and gas industry.

    Again, I appreciate Bass’ dedication to the climate change issue….I just wish he’d be more consistent and honest when it comes to opposing other industrial activities on our public lands, which just lead to more over-consumption and environmental degradation. Otherwise Bass’ actions and words come across as hypocritical. Thanks.

  8. I appreciate articles like this one that sheds light on how government works in regards to the organizations that buzz around it. More articles are needed that connect the dots between who are funding these “astroturf” movements and what the real agenda is. There was a lively discussion yesterday on Naked Capitalism on a David Dayen piece that came down hard on Katrina Vanden Huevel of “The Nation” who had denounced a piece of his denouncing groups like “Center for American Progress” and “Moveon”.
    Commenter Susan had the takeaway comment of the day with this analogy of do-gooder “progressive ” organizations:
    “So they pat themselves on the back day in and day out for pulling the drowning puppies out of the river. They are so busy dragging drowning puppy nets that they never lift their heads to walk upstream and see who is pushing the puppies in.”
    Seems like the puppy net draggers don’t want to know and are happy to be part of the kabuki.

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