The Keystone XL Pipeline and the effort of activists to stop it are significant for many reasons. I’ve written about this frequently, especially the grassroots efforts of Tar Sands Blockade, and recently, about the Forward On Climate Change event in DC last weekend, with approximately 40,000 people participating.
Now, I want to focus some of what we might call the “top cops” — Barack Obama, Sec. of State John Kerry, and Congressional members, all of whom have enormous power in deciding whether or not the Keystone XL Pipeline will be completed.
And “completed” is a key word, one that fairly often is omitted. Yes, Obama stopped the construction of the northern section, for additional study. He’ll announce his decision soon. What’s often left out is that at the same time he stopped that construction, he approved, in an expedited manner, the construction of the southern section.
The Keystone Cops of silent movie fame were bumbling fools. Mr. Obama is seldom a Keystone Cop “bumbler” of that sort, especially as applied to getting what he wants. Because in general, what you see is Obama being Obama, going after the results he wants. Sec. Kerry, in his new role, is yet unknown. And while there certainly are exceptions, “member of Congress” and “bumble” seem to go together routinely, especially if you’re thinking in terms of what’s good for the environment (or the economy, unemployed, etc.).
In general, DC Electeds (and appointees) are the hired cops of Keystone / Tar Sands / carbon-based fuel industries. The “bumbling” part mostly shows up when the DC versions of “rent-a-cop” are so very obvious in revealing where their loyalties lie.
A recent example of President Obama, at HuffPo: (emphasis added)
On the same weekend that 40,000 people gathered on the Mall in Washington to protest construction of the Keystone Pipeline … President Obama was golfing in Florida with a pair of Texans who are key oil, gas and pipeline players.
Obama has not shied away from supporting domestic drilling, … but in his most recent State of the Union speech he stressed the urgency of addressing climate change by weaning the country and the world from dependence on carbon-based fuels. …
But on his first ‘guys weekend’ away since he was reelected, the president chose to spend his free time with Jim Crane and Milton Carroll, leading figures in the Texas oil and gas industry, along with other men who run companies that deal in the same kinds of carbon-based services that Keystone would enlarge.
Now, to me, this is a Keystone Cop size bumble, but the truth is, it’s very doubtful that the president will pay any price whatsoever for making it. Actually, it fits so neatly into “that’s just the way things work” framing that even when noticed it’s probably more likely to elicit a shrug than a WTF (whether expressed with a outrage or a Keystone Cop giggle).
On to Kerry, and to his first major speech as secretary of state. First, from Joe Romm, via EcoWatch. (emphasis added)
Will Climate Hawk Kerry Have the Courage to Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline?
A month ago I wrote that the ‘confirmation of climate hawk Kerry as Secretary of State may doom dirty Keystone XL Pipeline.’
Now John Kerry has delivered his first big foreign policy speech as Secretary of State and he shows no sign whatsoever of backing down from the moral urgency that has made him a true climate champion.
Romm includes excerpts from the speech, and offers some analysis. A portion of this: (emphasis in original)
‘If we waste this opportunity, it may be the only thing our generations are remembered for. We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy.’ …
Does this sound like a man who is going to launch his term as Secretary of State approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world? …
(Approving Keystone) … would be the opposite of courageous, it’s not what Kerry wants to be remembered for, and I don’t think he will do it.
Here’s similar story, via CBC. (emphasis added)
In yet another potentially ominous sign for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, John Kerry used his first major address as secretary of state on Wednesday to make an urgent call for comprehensive action on climate change. …
That’s good. This follows:
While Kerry made no mention of Keystone XL specifically, his State Department will soon decide the $7-billion pipeline’s ultimate fate because it crosses an international border. …
Why not mention TransCanada and Keystone XL by name? Why not get beyond generalizations to specifics?
American environmentalists … (are) stepping up their efforts to urge President Barack Obama to make good on his recent rhetoric on climate change by rejecting the pipeline. …
There has been increasing speculation in the U.S. capital that the Obama administration might want to exact something in exchange for Keystone approval, such as a rumoured greenhouse gas emissions levy that would be imposed at the border and could raise much-needed revenue for the United States. …
Kerry’s speech in itself isn’t “bumbling,” and if he recommends against Keystone, and/or against some kind of deal or trade-off that supposedly balances out the harm done by Keystone, then we’ll have a “good cop” moment to celebrate.
Obama’s decision here is key. He could refuse to play even a sophisticated Keystone Cop who blows a good opportunity, but does it with sincerity and style and another good speech. He could say “no.”
Who is paying the Keystone (Pipeline and beyond) Cops, including the Electeds who take the money? To this point and to a significant extent, the carbon-based fuel industries are the ones writing those checks, and the ones designing environmental protection regulations.
Maybe there’s a bit of Keystone Cop in all of us, as we stumble and bumble around, rather than, even now, getting serious about a very serious environmental reality.
(Keystone Cops via Keystone Cops Festival)