MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While President Obama didn't address the Keystone XL Pipeline directly at a San Francisco fundraiser on Wednesday, he did give a hint that political reality â€“ or his perception of it -- will compel him to approve the final portions of it.
At the home of a pro-green, anti Keystone XL Pipeline billionaire, Obama set up an excuse for approval:
He said, "The politics of this are tough."
â€ś[T]he thing that Iâ€™m going to have to try to work to persuade the American people a little more convincingly on is this notion that thereâ€™s a contradiction between our economy and our environment is just a false choice,â€ť Obama said at a San Francisco fundraiser.
â€śIf we invest now, we will create jobs, we will create entire new industries; other countries will be looking to catch up, they will be looking to import what we do,â€ť Obama said at one of two fundraisers supporting Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee efforts to retake the House next year.
Obamaâ€™s remarks came at the home of billionaire Tom Steyer, a major supporter of green energy and climate initiatives who is planning to play an active role in the 2014 elections.
Obama said earthâ€™s temperature probably isnâ€™t the â€śnumber one concernâ€ť for workers who havenâ€™t seen a raise in a decade; have an underwater mortgage; are spending $40 to fill their gas tank, canâ€™t afford a hybrid car, and face other challenges.
The remarks of the president didn't mention Keystone, but given the recent State Department Report -- written with input from pipeline consultants -- that gave the project a green light, Obama appears to be preparing even a billionaire opponent for the inevitable: approval of the last segments of the Keystone XL Pipeline because of "the politics."
In fact, a just released Pew Poll finds that nearly 2/3's of Americans support the construction of the pipeline. Only 23% oppose it, according to the poll. Even given inevitable flaws in polls, Obama has not shown the kind of courage to run against the political wind with those sort of lopsided margins.
Oddly, Obama called for Congress and others to educate the middle class and America about climate change, but except for some remarks in his recent State of the Union, the president himself has done little to dispel the myths about the so-called positive aspects of the pipeline.
For example, it will only create a few thousand short-term jobs more or less. Furthermore, the tar sand extraction process in Canada is what will cause the devastating impact on carbon release, not the pipeline itself. It is the Keystone XL Pipeline that will facilitate, at a lower transportation cost, the transfer of this heavy oil to Houston thus making it profitable to proceed with its environmentally disastrous production. Furthermore, the oil is not directed at lowering US gas prices. It will be sold on the world spot market to the highest bidders, whoever will provide the biggest profits to the oil companies.
Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout posted the commentary: "President Obama: If 'XL Pipeline Is Harmless to Environment' as Your State Department Claims, Then Explain Exxon-Mobil's Tar Sands Pipeline Rupture-Evacuation in Arkansas"
Long-time BuzzFlash writer Jacqueline Marcus noted in that column:
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama acknowledged the severity of global warming and that action must be taken to replace industrial polluting energy with clean energy technologiesâ€¦.
Nevertheless, the President and his State Department-E.P.A. administrators need to take a good long look at this Exxon-Mobilâ€™s Arkansasâ€™ tar sands ruptured pipe video, and how it has forced a suburb of families to evacuate their homes, and then tell us again how safe the Keystone Pipeline is after his administration moved one step closer to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, concluding in a draft environmental impact statement that the project â€śwould not accelerate global greenhouse gas emissions or significantly harm the natural habitats along its route.â€ť
The report, done by the State Department, suggests that the proposed 875-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, has cleared a significant hurdle on its way to President Obamaâ€™s desk for final consideration. (ABC report).
Marcus deals with another point that the president is not educating America about: the potential for â€“ and now real â€“ environmental damage posed by pipeline leakage within the United States. If one recalls how the administration let BP run its own "clean-up" of the Gulf oil rig explosion, it is an ominous portent of what will happen with Keystone XL Pipeline leaks.
Indeed, journalist Steve Horn is reporting today a no-fly zone over the pipeline spill in Arkansas:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a "no fly zone" in place in Mayflower, Arkansas since April 1 at 2:12 PM and will be in place "until further notice," according to the FAA website and it's being overseen by ExxonMobil itself. In other words, any media or independent observers who want to witness the tar sands spill disaster have to ask Exxon's permission.
When you put the president's remarks alongside the Pew Poll, buttressed by the trumped up State Department "assessment" of the pipeline, it appears Obama is preparing the political excuse to approve it: the middle class is hurting.
Of course joblessness and low pay and income inequality have about as much to do with the Keystone XL Pipeline as a fire in a stove has to do with a tsunami, but the "politics" are tough, right? Except if we had a president who could define the issue of the Keystone XL Pipeline so that the political perception would change.
But we don't. Obama is just kicking the can down the road, and endangering the earth in the process.
There were hundreds of anti-pipeline protestors not far from the key fundraiser:
One of the organisers of the protest, Becky Bond the Political Director of CREDO Action, said "The American people want President Obama to stand on the right side of history and take the real action he promised on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, The only oil Americans will ever see from the pipeline that benefits foreign oil companies is the dirty tar sands crude that spills from it. Over 1,000 Obama volunteers, voters and donors turned out in San Francisco to remind our president that his legacy will be judged harshly if he approves Keystone XL. And we have over 50,000 more Americans from every state of the union willing to risk arrest in peaceful civil disobedience to stop him making the most catastrophic decision of his presidency."
Protest leader Bond also told a reporter: "We don't come with $32,000 checks, so we have to be really loud."
It is still not loud enough, it appears, to prevent the environmental disaster that the president is preparing us for.