Are we still living in a democracy? Or an oilgarchy, a petrocracy? The Keystone XL decision will be a pretty good indication.
Mark Hertsgaard makes the case powerfully today in BusinessWeek, describing why it’s tough for the President to do the right thing on the pipeline:
…[T]here’s a deeper explanation for Obama’s caution on Keystone that rarely gets acknowledged. He is the president of a petro state, a country that ranks as an OPEC nation in all but name. And in a petro state, saying no to Big Oil is never easy.
The whole piece is well worth a read, here.
Over the long haul, delivering climate solutions will turn out to be one of the most effective things we can do to restore democracy. We can build a powerful, virtuous circle: implementing solutions, reducing fossil fuel dependence, eroding the concentrated economic and political power of fossil fuel interests, and opening the door for more and better solutions.
But first we have to make it through the short haul. We have to prevent near-term investments like KXL that would lock in fossil fuel dependence and dangerous emission levels — betraying the promise of a clean energy economy that’s rapidly dispelling fossil-funded doubts about its viability.
And to do that, we can’t wait for a patient virtuous circle of solutions and democracy. We have to assert some democracy. Like this.
Candidate Obama said it’s time to “end the tyranny of oil.” The pivotal question now is whether President Obama will use his sole discretion to stand up to that tyranny, or submit to it.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Further thoughts on oil and democracy here: All Oil is Foreign,
…and on fossil fuels and American values here: What’s American Energy? Consult the Constitution, not the atlas
And Climate Solutions offers a new marketing tagline for the Nissan Leaf: Pull up at the gas station. Pump up your tires. Clean your windshield. And Leaf!