There must be ten or twenty immediate reasons a person can give for opposing a foreign corporation, TransCanada’s crusade to build a dangerous tar sand pipeline across America’s heartland, and they are all valid. However, the overriding, and immediate, cause for alarm should be the devastation tar sand development, production, and transport will have on the Earth’s climate. Now, after questions about whether Democratic candidate for president Hillary Rodham Clinton will do as many disaffected “progressives” claimed was inevitable and come down on the side of big oil and the Koch brothers, the former Secretary of State and Senator announced she opposed building the Keystone XL pipeline.
What is remarkable about Clinton’s announcement was that it came in response to an audience member’s question during a campaign stop in Iowa, and not at a specially-called press briefing to make a major policy statement and grab headlines. Obviously, the subject has been on Clinton’s mind for some time or she would not have come back with such a forceful statement, or with the most valid reason for opposing Keystone XL’s construction other than restricting profits of the Koch brothers or Speaker of the House John A. Boehner’s stock portfolio.
Former Senator Clinton made a promise last week that she would finally make her position on the pipeline public, and unlike lying Republicans, Clinton kept her word. This is good news for the environment, efforts to combat climate change, and Americans who are rightly terrified at the prospect of a leak-prone foreign corporation’s pipeline over precious agriculture land and a major water resource for millions of Americans. Many Americans concerned about the environment were anxious because they claim President Obama is “dragging his feet on deciding its fate.” Even if President Obama decides to nix the pipeline, Republicans will continue doing the Koch brothers’ bidding and push the foreign project on the next administration.
Although Clinton was Secretary of State, the department tasked with granting a foreign corporation’s permit to build a project across America’s international border with Canada, the Koch Republican push and resulting furor over Keystone was just beginning when she left office. Just three months ago Clinton said, “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question. This is President Obama’s decision and I’m not going to second-guess him.” However, this is a presidential run and last week Hillary Clinton finally decided that, “I have been waiting for the administration to make a decision. I thought I owed them that. I can’t wait too much longer. I am putting the White House on notice. I am going to tell you what I think soon.”
What Hillary Rodham Clinton thinks about allowing a foreign corporation to endanger Americans’ water and food sources is that,
“I oppose it. I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”
She also rightly said that the pipeline, or the push by Republicans to get it built tomorrow, was and has been “a distraction for the work we have to do to combat climate change; we need to move beyond the issue. I thought this would be decided by now. And therefore, I could tell you whether I agreed or I disagreed. But it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and other voters who ask me about this.” Apparently Clinton feels she has a responsibility to speak out about the most important reason to oppose the pipeline. As noted NASA climate scientist James Hansen has been screaming for five years; building Keystone XL and further developing Canada’s tar sands means “game over for Earth’s climate.”
Clinton’s announcement was, for lack of a better term, ‘responded to’ in a strange way by Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. Sanders said that,
“I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline.” He also added that he has opposed the pipeline “from the beginning.”
Martin O’Malley’s response was less-gracious than Senator Sanders and naturally he took what some would call a cheap shot at Clinton instead of welcoming another strong Democratic voice opposing the climate-destroying pipeline. He said,
“On issue after issue-marriage equality, drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, children fleeing violence in Central America, the Syrian refugee crisis, and now the Keystone Pipeline, Secretary Clinton has followed – not forged – public opinion.”
Good to know that Martin O’Malley has forged public opinion on so many important issues; particularly when most Americans have little clue exactly who Martin O’Malley is much less how he “forged” their opinions.
One risks outraged EmoProg’s condemnation, but really, with something as dangerous to the Earth’s climate as Keystone XL, it does not matter one iota who among Democrats opposed the project first, or who thinks they drove public opinion against it. Frankly, it is likely that no politician ever forges public opinion; not Bernie Sanders, not Martin O’Malley, not Hillary Clinton and not Barack Obama and it is political vanity to believe otherwise. Perhaps just welcoming Hillary Clinton’s opposition would have sufficed in a unified Democratic base, but Senator Sanders and former governor O’Malley both understand that many of their supporters on the ‘Emoprog’ left demand attacks against Clinton; even if they are tepid and amount to “I did it first;” they are childish like that.
For many Americans concerned about the devastation already being wreaked on the environment, Americans’ health, and the economy, a unified Democratic front in opposition to the pipeline is great news. It is particularly great news because this week all eyes are focused on Pope Francis’ visit to America and his address to Congress that will surely include schooling Republicans on their obstructionist tactics to block action on climate change. Whatever one thinks about Hillary Clinton, or why they think she waited to come out against allowing a foreign corporation’s project being built on American soil, her statement that she opposes the pipeline because it is a distraction for the work “we have to do to combat climate change” means that Democrats are unified on the subject; something that should worry Republicans.