What are we Americans willing to sacrifice in the name of jobs and money, and when does that sacrifice become too much sacrifice?
When does an economic and energy system become dangerous enough for us to rise up en masse against it in terms of how we live our lives and how and for whom we vote?
When are we going to stop believing the lies of Big Money interests in both the private and public sector?
Except for the rare leaders who have said no to frackers — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin — Big Gas has been on a 10-year joyride unlike any in American annals. There are now more than 1 million active oil and gas wells in the country, and our oil companies posted profits of $600 billion during the Bush years. President Obama, who promised to cap and trade emissions while building out America’s post-oil future, instead has presided over the breakneck expansion of fossil-fuel drilling. Under his watch, U.S. production has risen each year — up 35 percent for oil, 18 percent for gas — and enabled the country to barge past the Saudis as the world’s lead producer of oil and gas. (He also broke his word to end tax cuts for oilmen; those subsidies are up nearly 50 percent since he took office.)
Whatever Cheney’s doing now, he must look upon his handiwork and smile. OPEC has lost its whip hand over oil prices, SUVs are selling off the lot again, and Obama takes victory laps because we now produce more oil than we import. Glad tidings for all – except the people in more than 30 states who wake up to the thump of fracking rigs. To them, the message from Washington has been tacit but final: You folks are on your own out there.
Yes, Canadian tar sands will still get shipped by truck and by rail and by ship, but make no mistake, those shipments will be destined to any market – foreign or domestic – where the profits are greatest. If you think prices at the pump will be lower, with all due respect, you simply don’t understand how the free market actually works. See “The push to export U.S. oil (CNN)” and #GetMoneyOut of Politics and We Can #StopKXL
Yes, transporting the tar sands in something other than a pipeline can create more pollution and, yes, those methods can be more dangerous than a pipeline, but understand this, too. All of these non-pipeline methods are also much, much more expensive and risky to the companies than a pipeline. That is why there’s a pipeline project at all. They want to lower their costs and reduce their risks, but humanity and the planet cannot afford the CO2 in the atmosphere that comes from the extraction and burning of those tar sands. If you think this is hyperbole, again and with all due respect, you simply don’t understand the science the way that real scientists do.
Stopping the pipeline means greater risk and greater expense to the fossil fuel industry. That’s a good thing. Unless and until fossil fuels like Canadian tar sands become so cost-prohibitive as to make it a bad business to be in, we’re going to continue to be dependent on them. Yes, I am all for my government passing legislation, instituting policy, and regulating that industry to the point where it is so costly and so unprofitable that it becomes uneconomical and monumentally stupid to continue in that business.
That’s what governments are supposed to do – protect us, not corporations, not shareholders, and not investors. Us.
Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline need to understand and accept certain realities, and opponents need to do more than protest and sign petitions.
Let’s start with a few realities and wrap up with a specific call-to-action we all should be able to get behind.
1. The price at the pump is not going down…
…and no amount of Canadian tar sands oil will change that.
Oil is a global and fungible commodity. That means it does not matter where the commodity originates. It’s destination is determined by the demand for it in a global market and where the most money can be made from it.
Oil companies are for-profit endeavors. They are not about to increase the supply of their products to American markets if that results in lower prices and declining profits.
2. Energy independence is a myth…
…or more accurately, a lie, when told to us by politicians and businesses beholden to fossil fuels.
Drilling, mining, and refining is the raison d’etre of ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and an entire global industry built on fossil fuels. What better strategy for their businesses than to perpetuate this lie to defend themselves and to garner support for more and more domestic drilling and refining? The same goes for the lies about “clean” coal, too.
We cannot become independent from these dirty sources of energy by drilling, mining, and refining more of that same source. Why not? Because, once again, they are global and fungible commodities. Just because they start in North America doesn’t mean they stay in North America.
And, can we please stop buying into the patriotism angle in all of this?
Drillers, miners, refiners, and their bought-and-paid for toadies in government are not patriots, they are capitalists. They continue to tell us this lie of “energy independence” because they believe we’re just gullible enough to believe it and, of course, anything that tugs at our patriotic heartstrings must be good and noble and righteous, right?
It’s about money. Are there still people who actually do believe otherwise?
3. If you think West Virginians have it bad right now….
…consider the effects of a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer, the water source for millions of Americans.
Want a big dose of reality about Canadian tar sands?
Watch the video linked below to understand the abject corruption at the core of the Canadian government on the tar sands and the INCREDIBLE DAMAGE ALREADY BEING DONE IN CANADA.
If that video doesn’t piss you off, nothing will.
Let’s be clear on this reality. It’s not “if” there will be a major spill, it’s “WHEN” there will be one. In fact, they happen all the time. The One Percent Media just doesn’t talk about them. Why not? Because news is no longer news, it’s “media” that fears losing advertising dollars from the fossil fuel industry.
Look, I’m not against capitalism. I’m absolutely certain that Freedom Industries never set out to pollute the Elk River and the drinking water of 300,000 Americans. They’re just the latest example of reality. No one is perfect, no technology is perfect, and unregulated or under-regulated businesses can and will make decisions in the interest of keeping expenses low and profits high. That’s how capitalism works. It’s also why it must be balanced by strong government oversight because sometimes those business decisions have terrible consequences.
This is another reality. The Invisible Hand of the market is a Libertarian myth. Worse that that, it’s a lie, and the rich and powerful who perpetuate that lie on their low-information followers know it. The Invisible Hand is corrupt and it always, always, ALWAYS stays in the corrupt pocket of corporations. It works AGAINST all of us on matters of public safety, the public good, and the economy.
Which brings us to this final reality.
4. Jobs, jobs, jobs
Lies, lies, and more lies.
According to the U.S. State Department the pipeline would create at most 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and would leave only “hundreds” of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are simply not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy. (Source: National Resources Defense Council)
I get it. The fossil fuel industry today provides lots of good paying jobs. KXL will not.
It’s not easy to say, but it needs to be said.
Jobs that kill the planet, pollute the land and air, and poison our water, now and for future generations, are part of the problem.
We can no longer excuse or exonerate people working in the fossil fuel industries out of some Randian Objectivism that puts their wants and needs above the health, safety, and welfare of the rest of us.
This is another reality that must be recognized. The fossil fuel industry is killing it’s workers and their families, too. They are not immune from the devastation being done to our environment. Just ask the employees of Freedom Industries if they were drinking their tap water after the spill – or if they’ve even started to again.
What Can Be Done?
Energy and the environment are huge issues, and they are inextricably intertwined. There’s no way of getting around this reality, either. We can’t survive without both of them. We have control over only one of them, and that’s energy.
So what can we do? What can everyone who works inside and outside the fossil fuel industry do?
Here’s what Whitehouse.gov is reporting on that is already happening and is being planned.
Here’s another answer: #GetMoneyOut of politics.
Imagine if we elected people who actually wanted to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Instead of subsidizing the fossil fuel industry like we do, what if we subsidized the technologies and companies working on a clean energy future, at least until they actually could compete with the entrenched and antiquated oil, coal, and gas companies?
Might that not motivate rich and powerful oil, coal, and gas companies to actually rethink their business models?
Haven’t those rich and profitable “socialists” running big fossil fuel companies suckled enough of our tax dollars yet?
Wouldn’t it be better to see growth in jobs that didn’t literally put lives at risk, both on the job and in terms of the environment?
Wouldn’t clean energy jobs on solar and wind farms be preferable to jobs in a coal mine, on a fracking pad, or on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf that explodes, kills people, and spills 206million barrels of oil into the ocean?
It is possible. We can elect people who actually share this vision of a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous planet for us all if we work together to #GetMoneyOut of politics.
The corrupting influence of Big and Dark Money in politics is at the root of every problem we face. That includes energy and the environment. So long as politicians must raise millions to run campaigns, and so long as large sums of money can be secretly collected and funneled from the tiniest number of rich donors the way it is now in a post-Citizens United system, we will continue to see political decisions made that benefit the rich and powerful few at our expense. Those rich and powerful few include, of course, people and corporations in the fossil fuel industry.
So, if you want to change the political system…..
….If you want to bequeath a planet where our progeny can drink the water and breath the air and eat the food…..
….If you want a better economy and a better job for yourself and your kids and their kids….
….then please take this one simple step to support the process of getting money out of politics:
Today is the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous “Citizens United” decision.
Why should you care?
Watch the 2 1/2 minute video at…
…http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/ to get a sense of what money in politics is doing to us and to our government. I hope you’ll then decide you want to add your name as a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act. I hope you’ll want to tell everyone to do the same.
After that, visit…
…https://movetoamend.org/ to understand what a bunch of concerned citizens are doing to push for an amendment to our Constitution, “… to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
You can sign their petition, too.
Sounds pretty easy, right? It doesn’t take a lot, and every voice counts.
Look, if you don’t do something, who will?
And if you decide to do nothing? That’s your choice, of course.
The way I see it, though, is people who won’t take action – any action – really don’t get to complain about money in politics or the Democrats or the Republicans or the size of government or the size of the military or voter ID laws or how the 2-party system keeps independents from running and winning or fracking or climate science or Roe v Wade or the minimum wage or right-to-work states or class warfare or corporate welfare or Wall Street bonuses and bail outs or George Soros or Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump or Fox News or MSNBC or Glass-Steagall or the Gilded Age or Obamacare or the NRA or immigration reform or lots of other things that corrupt our representative democracy.
It all boils down to money, and unless and until we – you and I and everyone we know – does something – ANYTHING – to get money out of politics while we get out and vote in every election, well then we shouldn’t expect much to change for the better.
We can do this. You can do this. Why not do it right now?
They even have some very simple suggested text to use:
Dear Representative or Senator,
It has been three years since the disastrous Citizens United decision. As a legislator, you are in a position to fix this bad decision, but I don’t see anything on your web site about your plans to do so. Will you please be a leader and post your plans on your web site?
Below is what Senator Toomey‘s office sent to me in response to my inquiry. It’s clearly a canned response, and it never actually answers the simple question posed.
I’ve also copied in my reply. I think it’s important that our elected leaders hear from us when our questions and concerns go unanswered.
Below the email is additional research and my personal thoughts on Senator Toomey and his position on other issues I feel are important and which influence how I feel about him and his party.
Trust me, I’m not so naive as to believe that he or even a staffer will read my email or feel compelled to respond to it. If they do, I will share it here. I just want the Senator and his staff to know that ordinary citizens are paying attention; very, very close attention.
From: “Senator Pat Toomey” To: Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 9:04:01 AM Subject: Reply from U.S. Senator Pat Toomey
January 23, 2013
Dear Mr. ,
Thank you for contacting me about campaign finance reform. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, overturned a federal ban on independent political advocacy by corporations and unions. I understand your concerns regarding this decision and political activities by outside groups and businesses. That said, the Supreme Court has long upheld that political speech, including the funding thereof, is protected by the First Amendment and is an integral part of our constitutional democracy. It is important that Congress be mindful of these constitutional principles, although I understand your concerns about this issue. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as Congress continues reviewing changes to campaign finance laws.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Pat Toomey U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania
Dear Senator Toomey:
Thank you for your response.
With all due respect, your attempt to characterize the Citizens United vs FEC ruling as upholding the rights and protections afforded to actual citizens by the First Amendment is insulting and disingenuous. It’s insulting because you and those who defend the activism of the conservatives on the Court seem to believe that you can dupe all of us into believing your partisan framing of that ruling. I humbly remind you that we are not all “low information voters.”
Those of us who oppose Citizens United know that it is not about free speech. It is not even about political speech. It is about money. It is about “dark money” and the inordinate influence so much of it is having from too few sources on you and your fellow elected leaders who are supposed to be representing all of us, not just wealthy donors and corporations. (Again and with all due respect, please spare me any rhetoric on trickle down economics. We both know that it’s a failed economic theory.)
You have chosen not to answer my question directly about publishing your plans for overturning Citizens United. Given your past role as president of The Club for Growth and the $2.7million they spent on your behalf on attack ads to win you your seat 51% to 49%, I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’m left to conclude, therefore, that you are in favor of that disastrous Supreme Court ruling. I invite you, of course, to please write back immediately to correct me and to share your plans if I’ve come to the wrong conclusion. Nothing would please me more.
Once more and only with the greatest respect, it seems to me that you have a choice to make, Senator. You can follow – and even lead – the GOP’s steady decline into political oblivion with everyone except the aging white male evangelical demographic (your tea party base), or you can be part of a more modern, thriving, and progressive (it’s not a dirty word, by the way, and is considered by most to be the opposite of ‘regressive’) Republican party.
My humble and sincere recommendation is that you start by taking a stand against the corrupting influence of big and dark money in our political system by publishing your plan to combat and overturn Citizens United. I realize that that may seem antithetical to your past role as leader of a tea party PAC, but that’s not who you’re supposed to be representing in the Senate.
Who knows? You might even win back registered Non-Partisan voters like me.
While not part of the above email, here’s some research and conclusions on why ordinary citizens should oppose Senator Toomey (and similarly positioned Republicans).
Energy (the closest “issue” the Senator lists when it comes the Environment and Climate Change)
Senator Toomey wants to further loosen restrictions on an already under-regulated fossil fuel industry, wants to expand mining and drilling of dirty fossil fuels, and is completely silent on renewable energy. http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=32
(Affordable) Health Care
Senator Toomey co-sponsored S.192, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” a petty partisan and Bachmann-esque bill that reveals how much more he values the interests of big money from insurance carriers, pharmaceuticals, health care providers, and corporations than he does the actual health and welfare of poor, unemployed, and under-employed people. http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=34
Life, Family and Marriage (Inequality)
Senator Toomey seems to have more in common with Rick Santorum than he does with the majority of Americans. Anyone who isn’t in support of gay marriage is, in my opinion, a hateful bigot. Period. There is no middle ground and no compromise when it comes to civil liberties, equality, and justice for the LGBTQ community in this country. http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=33
The GOP: A Party in Decline It no longer comes as any surprise to me that the GOP is a party in steep decline. This last election was very telling. Beyond older white religious men, Mr. Romney had weak and diminishing appeal(1). And while the GOP kept control in the House, they lost seats in both houses of Congress, and there were fewer votes for House Republicans than there were for House Democrats(2). The GOP’s only real appeal now seems to be with a shrinking older, whiter, and more fundamentalist demographic. Oh, and big money.
GOP’s Desperate Measures to Rig Elections and Deny Voters Their Rights This decline in popularity and appeal is undoubtedly part of the reason why Governor Corbett and Republican state legislators all over the U.S. want to change the Electoral College rules so that under-populated and gerrymandered GOP districts have the same Electoral College weight as the overall voting population.
Isn’t it ironic? One would think that Libertarians, Teapublicans, and ordinary Republicans everywhere would be staunch supporters of winner-take-all, right? Instead, it looks like the new mantra is, “Since we can’t beat the Democrats fairly, we’ll rig the system.” To whom does this strategy appeal if it’s not the white rural evangelical voter; that subset of the party’s base who seems intent on voting against their own economic self interests time and time again?
The voter ID law is, of course, another prime example of a party who refuses to face reality. It’s nothing more than empty fear-mongering over a problem that simply does not exist except in the minds of Republican politicians and Fox News commentators. To claim that measures must be taken to stop rampant in-person voter fraud is to insult the intelligence of anyone paying attention to the realities of how rare it is for someone to impersonate anyone on election day(3).
Money in Politics I cling to the belief that politicians are supposed to work for me. My belief was stronger before the Citizens United ruling.
Now it seems all too clear that Senator Toomey and his colleagues on both sides are far more beholden to the Sheldon Adelsons, Harold Simmonses, Karl Roves, and all the Super PACs(4) than they are to you, me, our fellow Pennsylvanians, and ordinary Americans.
To be fair to Senator Toomey, he’s presumably most beholden to his biggest donor, the Tea Party SuperPAC, The Club for Growth, According to OpenSecrets,they have contributed $848,033 to him over the course of his political career(5). They also spent $2.7million in negative ads to help their former president to win his seat 51% to 49%(6).
This is what Democracy looks like?
It will take a long and hard struggle to get Citizens United overturned. It’s not impossible, and I believe that it’s up to us – ordinary citizens – to be united in our unending and unbending effort to understand which politicians agree with us and which don’t. I think it’s obvious what we need to then do with that information.