Saturday, November 05, 2011

Jobs vs. our Environment – Wrong characterization of Tar Sands Action

This is an interesting delusion coming from our public airwaves --Obama's Pipeline Decision Must Balance Jobs, Environment : NPR—as it characterizes our present economic and environment problems as an illusory polarity of desperate choices. The GOP and their silly candidates running for President of the United States has been very successful in deluding the public that they have only a choice between jobs and our environment. Choose one or the other, they say. And, of course, our public media is onboard with that characterization.
“In other words, the president will ultimately decide whether to give a red or green light to the oil pipeline. It will inevitably divide his base, says Josh Freed, vice president for the clean energy program at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way. “Labor unions are big supporters of building the Keystone pipeline,” he says. “Environmentalists who’ve been frustrated with several other decisions the president has made over the last three years have turned this into a proxy to see whose side of many environmental issues the president stands on.” That’s how the environmentalists describe this fight, too: a test of how much this president really deserves their support.” (November 4, 2011) NPR : National Public Radio
However, it is not the case that we must choose between jobs or our environment. We the people can decide not to let the fossil fuel industry lord over our economics and instead help renewable energy and take away the billions we give to the fossil fuel industry. Then, jobs by the zillions would be available to both stop the increase in greenhouse gases (GHG) that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will cause and increase our ability to combat Climate Change.

Those of us going to Washington tomorrow are not against jobs. We are against what will be a dangerous pipeline of dirty oil snaking through our country to refine that dirty oil and put more GHG into our atmosphere. We want President Obama to keep his promises and take action on Climate Change. Allowing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to happen would be the final capitulation of our president to our addiction to the fossil fuel industry, instead of taking leadership on Climate Change. We hope to get in the president’s face tomorrow with that message:
Tar Sands Action “November 6th: Tar Sands Action Returns to DC | One year from the next election, we will return to DC to try to encircle the White House to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The action begins at 2 pm in Lafayette Park.”
The story below is a dreary characterization of what will happen if the president approves of the pipeline:
Obama Advisers Fret Over Keystone XL Pipeline's Political Risks | InsideClimate News Officials fear that a decision in favor of the oil pipeline could dampen enthusiasm among volunteers needed for door-to-door campaigning in 2012. Reeling from months of protests, President Barack Obama's advisers are worried that administration approval for a planned oil pipeline from Canada could cost him political support from Democrats in 2012. Senior officials at the White House and Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters have fielded complaints from supporters who are unhappy about TransCanada Corp's plan to build a massive pipeline to transport crude from Alberta to Texas, sources familiar with the situation said. (November 4, 2011) | InsideClimate News
So, everyone thinks the president has only two choices:

  • Approve the pipeline and create jobs and pollute the environment
  • Don’t approve it and take away potential jobs, lose the next election, and save the environment.
Let’s grow up. It’s a lot more complicated than that and our media needs to get it.

What this really reflects is the insane dilemma that the GOP and the president have put those who are trying to save our environment from the ravages of our mean-spirited economy, where the rich do fine and the rest of us 99% don’t fare so well, into an impossible bind. But, it’s an illusory bind created by our media and our loony politics. There are more than two choices to get more jobs and save our environment. Environmentalist want jobs, but green jobs, not dirty fossil fuel jobs. We will be very disappointed in the president if he does not stop this crazy scheme to run a fossil fuel pipeline through our country and risk our environment to refine dirty oil that will only increase GHG.

But to say that if the president approves of the pipeline it will drive us to the GOP camp is wrong. Those people (as Robert E. Lee used to characterize the Union forces) are so extreme in their Laissez-faire Capitalism that they would indeed keep to their failed ideology even if it brought our environment to a collapse. Obama is teachable; the GOP not so much. Environmentalist would be shooting themselves in the food if they stayed at home on Election Day.

We are a culture addicted to the burning of fossil fuels for energy. So, one of the consequences of that addiction is that most of the jobs at this present time are related to the use of fossil fuels. So the GOP and the fossil fuel industry keep saying that if we don’t drill and drill for more fossil fuel you won’t get a job—which scares the bejesus out of the public into believing that their only choices for survival are fossil fuel jobs or our environment. The fossil fuel industries know they have us in a stranglehold if they can force our president to continually back their industry and sow doubt on Climate Change—which is as real as gravity.

It’s not. We can change the political and economic landscape to address Climate Change by backing renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal) while increasing our energy storage, energy efficiency, and conserving energy. Not only can we, we must.

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