Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wacky World of the Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal

The saga of the Keystone XL pipeline seems to have more twists than The Da Vinci Code. Just when it seems that the project to bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in our leading greenhouse gas producing state, Texas, has been rejected it invariably regains life in some new form. You just can’t kill this thing. Yet another Wach-A-Mole project to keep climate activists like Bill McKibben wacking away. McKibben actually is probably partly responsible for beginning these strange turn of events when he and about 1,200 other people got arrested in front of the White House protesting the pipeline which must have put the project on Barack Obama’s political radar screen. To make sure the president got the message McKibben later got about 5,000 people to surround the White House in another protest. Also, much of the state of Nebraska making noise about what this potentially polluting pipeline could do the aquifer that they rely on for water was heard by Obama. Then after Obama decided to delay the decision to after the election the Republicans came up with the bright idea of attaching approval of the pipeline to bills that Obama wants to sign. On their first attempt Obama turned down the project, saying there was not enough time to review the changes, so the Republicans simply keep attaching it to more bills. And now the never-say-die company that wants to build the pipeline, TransCanada, came up with their own bright idea, to break the project into two parts. The southern part would extend from Oklahoma to Texas and since it would not cross the border from Canada it will not need State Department approval making life much easier for TransCanada.

Somehow it looks like this thing will be built, or will it? Waiting in the wings just in case TransCanada or the Republicans eventually give up is an existing pipeline that goes from Portland, Maine to Montreal. This pipeline now brings oil from Maine to Canada but if the flow is reversed a pipeline from Alberta to Montreal could be built and no State Department approval would be needed to get the tar sands oil to Portland. Wack! Wack! Wack!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Will Al Gore Endorse Rocky Anderson for President?

No nonscientist is more associated with urging action to fight global warming than Al Gore. His film An Inconvenient Truth woke up the nation to the dangers of global warming in 2006 and ever since he has been trying get out the message that urgent action is needed. Will the profound understanding he has about the urgency of the situation make it difficult for him to endorse Barack Obama for president? Ever since he took office in 2009 Obama has been sort of sleepwalking through the climate crisis. He hasn’t given a hint of urgency and rarely even acknowledges the problem. So how can Gore possibly endorse him for another term when it means four more years of inaction? A win by Obama pretty much guarantees that the battle Gore has been waging will be lost. Sure decisive action can be started ten, or even twenty years from now but catastrophic climate change will almost surely occur if we have to wait that long. Therefore, is it conceivable that instead Gore will endorse Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party candidate, who claims he will put aggressive leadership on climate change high of his agenda? Anderson’s extraordinary track record of reducing greenhouse gases when he was mayor of Salt Lake City suggests he will do as he says. Gore seems to be part of mainstream politics and endorsing a third party candidate would appear to be a stretch for him but maybe, just maybe, he will break out of the mainstream mold and endorse Anderson.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Need the Justice Party

The need for a third party became much clearer to me when I read Jeffrey Sachs’ new book The Price of Civilization. The creation of a third party that is not dependent on taking large sums of money from corporations appears to be the only way to peacefully change the system so that the government primarily serves the people of the United States as it is supposed to do. It was shortly after finishing that book that I found out about the Justice Party, which was formed late last year by Rocky Anderson, a former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City. Anderson was a member of the Democratic Party until this past August. In an interview on a radio show he said "We've been voting as a nation against our own interests year after year. Most Americans — whether they consider themselves on the right, left, center, whatever — understand that their interests have been undermined by these folks in Washington, both in the White House and in Congress, who are acting as if they're on retainer with their largest campaign contributors rather than doing what's in the public's interest." That is a sentiment that seems now widespread and growing.

The Justice Party stands for economic, environmental, and social and civic justice. Since Anderson decided to make a run for president the party could have an immediate impact on this year’s election. With the window of opportunity closing on effective action to prevent dangerous climate change it is reassuring that Anderson makes a statement on the first page of his website which says “Climate Protection Leader=The Candidate You Have Been Waiting For.” He points out that he has been called “The Greenest Mayor” and “One of the 15 Greenest Politicians in the World.” With the system completely stacked against someone like that winning the presidency it would be foolish to raise expectations, but it would also be foolish to give up all hope. If we want to live on a planet that remains suitable for human habitation we cannot just submit to living in a corporatocracy which has replaced our democracy. If a third party is the only vehicle that can get us out of this quagmire then hopping aboard seems to be the way to go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rocky Anderson for President

The high expectations that President Obama would lead the world to a meaningful agreement to prevent dangerous climate change have been totally shattered. He has now been in office for more than three years and has yet to give even a single major speech on climate change. Even when comprehensive climate change legislation was stalled in the Senate in 2010 he said virtually nothing to move the legislation toward passage. In his State of the Union address in 2011 he didn’t even mention climate change and in his State of the Union address earlier this year he mentioned it only once, saying that it was not possible to pass such legislation at this time. In 2009 many people expected that a legally binding agreement would result from the climate summit in Copenhagen but all Obama got was an agreement for voluntary reductions. Expectations were lower in 2011 at the climate summit in Durban, South Africa and all that was achieved was a vague agreement for something legally binding beginning in 2020. While Obama has some notable accomplishments in improving the gas mileage standards for cars and trucks, and stimulating growth of renewable energy he has become an advocate for offshore oil drilling, sending large amounts of coal to China, and “clean coal.” He also seems to have a favorable attitude toward tar sands oil and shale gas obtained by fracking. All in all, Obama is not protecting the climate as he promised during his campaign and is unlikely to do so if he is elected for another four years. Of course, the Republican Party is only offering candidates for president who are professed global warming deniers. Whether or not they really don’t believe in global warming is besides the point, they have to deny it to remain viable candidates. In a two-party system that leaves us with no one to vote for who will assume a leadership role in dealing with the climate crisis. Just the way Big Oil wants it. The big bucks they have contributed to political candidates have paid off big time. The only hope in this despair-filled situation appears to be the longest of long shots, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson who is running for president as the candidate of the newly formed Justice Party. By not taking any corporate money and limiting contributions from individuals to $100 Anderson provides a glimmer of hope that the plutocracy that has taken control of our government can be vanquished and democracy of the people restored. On the issue of global warming Anderson’s credentials are almost off the chart. Here is how these credentials are described on his website:
“Rocky Anderson is the only candidate who has won the EPA’s Climate Protection Award, the World Leadership Award (for climate protection programs), the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Respect the Earth Planet Defender Award. Rocky was named by Business Week as one of the top twenty activists in the world on climate change and served on the Newsweek Global Environmental Leadership Advisory Committee. Anderson is the only US mayor who has presented in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in New Delhi, Buenos Aires, and Bali. He consulted in London with the assistants to heads of state in preparation for the 2005 G8 Conference, at which climate change was one of only two major agenda items. A founder and co-host of “Sundance Summit: A Mayors’ Gathering on Climate Protection,” Anderson has also presented at numerous conferences throughout the US, as well as in Australia, Canada, China, and Sweden.”
The choice is clear. Rocky Anderson for president.