By Kenny Bruno
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
What do the Republican National Convention, the Obama Administration’s new fuel standards and seven arrests in Texas have in common?
The Keystone XL pipeline tar sands pipeline.
Let’s start with the RNC, which started today and where the GOP has made Keystone a top convention talking point. In 2008, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani chanted “Drill Baby Drill,” which was either a bizarre reference to the black power movement’s “Burn Baby Burn” or an unfair riff on the great song by the Trammps. Now Mitt Romney says he’ll pick up a shovel and build Keystone XL himself. And if Big Oil told him to jump off a cliff, he’d do that too, because that’s the industry that’s been writing Republican energy policy and writing big checks to Republican (and some Democratic) candidates since before the days of Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force. Convention speakers will repeat discredited talking points about jobs, national security and gas prices ad nauseum. Pretty much everything they say will be contrary to the facts.
Meanwhile, landowners and their supporters in Texas, where TransCanada has started building the southern half of the pipeline, are taking non-violent action to stop construction. Today, seven people were arrested in an action that stopped construction activities for the day. These are not greenies from Berkeley, but Texas citizens who care more about protecting water and health than about oil company profits. Republicans say they support land rights, but who is standing up for these landowners?
On the same day as the opening of the Republican Convention and the seven arrests in Texas, the Obama administration finalized new fuel efficiency standards that will require an average of 55 MPG (rounded up) by 2025. Environmental groups were giddy, with Sierra Club calling it “the biggest step of any administration in history to cut climate pollution.” The connection to the pipeline is this: President Obama, in an interview with AARP, noted that the new rule will not only reduce pollution and save consumers money but will reduce oil consumption by an amount “equal to what would be pumped through the Keystone pipeline for 45 years.”
But despite his realization that efficiency can save more oil than Keystone XL can carry, the President is ambivalent about the pipeline, to the point where he is for half of it. He supports the southern half while withholding judgment on the northern half. On his trip to Cushing, OK in March, the President went out of his way to “expedite” the process of approving the southern section of the pipeline, even though his Administration has little say over that section of the project. That encouragement of TransCanada led directly to their segmenting the project and starting construction on the southern half through Oklahoma and Texas.
Who is standing up for the landowners?
The landowners themselves are standing up, and in a most courageous way.