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The man who crushed the Keystone XL pipeline

Barbara Moran, Boston Globe
How a mild-mannered Vermont journalist derailed that $7 billion oil project, engineered history’s largest green protest, and became the environmental movement’s most unlikely celebrity.

… It wasn’t exactly soaring oratory, but nobody ever mistook McKibben for Martin Luther King Jr. Tall and stooped, intensely wonky and hopelessly earnest, the 51-year-old McKibben is an unlikely candidate for celebrity. Yet over the past few years he has emerged as the new superstar of the environmental movement. And to many environmentalists – like Al Gore, who in an e-mail praises McKibben for “his passion, his sincerity and his depth of knowledge” – McKibben offers the brightest hope for their future.

He certainly has impeccable timing. From “stop coal” protests to the Occupy encampments, something stirred in America late last year, and McKibben sensed it. “He has caught the wind of the environmental movement and will help the movement regain its footing,” says John Adams, cofounder of the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council and recipient of the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom. “He is soon to be known – if he isn’t already – as one of the top environmental leaders in the country.” Or, as Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune puts it: “He hasn’t quite broken through to the world of US Weekly and Teen Beat, but give him time. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few years from now my daughter has posters of Bill McKibben up on the wall.”

It might not even take that long. Four days after the Keystone protest, Barack Obama postponed a decision on the pipeline until 2013. McKibben promptly declared the pipeline dead, tweeting, “a done deal has come spectacularly undone!”

In the environmental movement, where any sort of victory is rare, this was a biggie. |
(22 January 2012)

What’s So Radical About Caring for the Earth and Opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline?

David Suzuki,
Caring about the air, water, and land that give us life. Exploring ways to ensure Canada’s natural resources serve the national interest. Knowing that sacrificing our environment to a corporate-controlled economy is suicide. If those qualities make us radicals, as federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently claimed in an open letter, then I and many others will wear the label proudly.

But is it radical to care for our country, our world, our children and grandchildren, our future? It seems more radical for a government to come out swinging in favour of an industrial project in advance of public hearings into that project. It seems especially radical when the government paints everyone who opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project as American-funded traitors with a radical ideological agenda “to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.”

It’s bad enough when our government and its “ethical oil” and media supporters don’t tell the truth, but it’s worse when they don’t even offer rational arguments. Their increasing attacks on charitable organizations and Canadians from all walks of life show that if they can’t win with facts, they’ll do everything they can to silence their critics. And we thought conservative-minded people valued free speech!
(18 January 2012)

After Keystone XL Decision, Don’t Believe GOP Hype on Energy

David Sirota,
Don’t buy the GOP’s claims. Oil companies, not green alternatives, are making a killing from the government

Listen to the typical conservative rhetoric about energy being thrown around on talk radio or in Republican presidential debates, and you’re likely to hear that our government primarily uses its regulatory and financial power to create a destructive green energy boondoggle — one that enriches a few politically connected Solyndra executives, appeases a bunch of wild-eyed tree huggers, but hides the fact that renewables supposedly can’t stand on their own in the private sector. [ Valery Sidelnykov/Shutterstock)] (Photo: Valery Sidelnykov/Shutterstock)

In the face of catastrophic climate change and dwindling fossil fuel resources, this cartoonish narrative has gained traction because it invokes the moment’s most powerful political metonyms, from implicit allegations of crony capitalism to hippie-themed epithets about environmentalists to “free market” fundamentalism. The underlying idea — which will only be more amplified in the wake of the Obama administration’s pipeline decision Wednesday — is that fossil fuels are being persecuted by the American government.

But the reality, of course, is something wholly different. Indeed, this mythology is a perfect example of Orwellian Newspeak in which the reverse of the rhetoric is true. As recent news highlights, the government is doing exactly the opposite of what conservatives say: It is aggressively favoring the fossil fuel industry in ways that give that industry a special economic advantage over clean energy.
(18 January 2012)