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If Keystone XL were only a solar company …

September 27th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Life is filled with what ifs … What if I won the lottery? What if I fell off the bicycle? What if … In contemplating what has been going on with Solyndra, today’s news (for those who hear it) seems to raise one of those ‘what if’ moments:

What if the Keystone XL pipeline project to move tar sands liquids to Gulf Coast refineries were about solar power and a better future rather than an effort to nail the coffin on our chances to head off climate chaos?

If so, we would have to imagine the Congress in an uproar, with hearing after hearing investigating its environmental impacts, questioning of the firm’s exaggerated (fantasy?) numbers of potential employees, and elected officials streaming in front of the cameras to express their outrage at the very undemocratic (let’s buy politics) nature of “public hearings” and the potential illegal actions surrounding Keystone XL lobbying of the Obama Administration.

When it comes to disrupting real democracy, there are those things that leave a foul taste in the mouth.  For not just me, paying people to stuff public hearing rooms to drown out the voices of truly concerned citizens (who, by the way, might be on multiple sides of an issues) falls into that category.  This pipeline is, potentially, $billions of profits of implications … per year. Thus, it isn’t a stretch for the concerned businesses to spend $10,000s seeking to skew a public hearing process caused because of growing concern across the nation about this pipeline’s implications.  These State Department hearings are, however, not really giving “the” public a fair shake. The following is a report from one concerned citizen

I attended and spoke at the Port Arthur State Dept. meeting last night. I left with the feeling of being scammed. We arrived 45 minutes early to sign up, & found hundreds of oil field workers already in line (having been bused in) wearing navy blue or orange matching t-shirts, bold lettering: BUILD KEYSTONE XL NOW! GOOD JOBS! U.S. SECURITY!

Once we were allowed to sign up to speak (at a table staffed by Cardno Entrix, according to their name tags) we entered the room to find the first 8-10 rows, (left side:suits, right side: oil field workers), filled by these individuals and their slogans. This after being told we could not bring any signs into the meeting? The 2 microphones were set up in the middle, just behind the last rows of bright shirts. When one stood up to speak, these were the only people in the field of vision.

The first 40 or so speakers were for the pipeline (having been bused in & stood in line to sign up first). They were told their time limit was 3 minutes, but it was not strictly enforced. Once people started speaking in opposition, we were told it was getting so late, the time was now 2 minutes (strictly enforced).

 Now, this is far from an isolated report.  From the National Wildlife Federation

Unsurprisingly, the Koch brothers’ front group Americans for Prosperity was gaming the system at the Keystone XL public meeting in Topeka, Kansas, attempting to prevent community members opposed to the pipeline from expressing their views to the State Department. 

That post then lays out, with documentation, how Koch’s AFP were able to get signage surrounding the event after the State Department had told people they couldn’t have signs in the parking area.

From an email forwarded to me …

I attended the Tar Sands hearing last night in Port Arthur, and spoke against the permitting, as one of about forty environmentalists (out of about 160 speakers signed up).  The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-pipeline, however, and very vocal, in a simplistic, cheerleading sort-of-way. There were hundreds of union workers and pipeline employees, all clad in matching pro-pipeline garb, and in the parking lot waiting to get in, they were  bombastic, intimidating and overtly racist in conversation. It was a display of the worst stereotypes of Texas, with some business leaders discussing how those who are against the pipeline should just move elsewhere, because they clearly ‘hate America.’

As for potentially illegal, Friends of the Earth just filed a complaint  with the Justice Department alledging that key lobbyist lobbied before registering as a lobbyist and, if I understand it correctly, failed to register as a lobbyist for a foreign entity.  Can you imagine the Republican Party outrage if a German (worse, French) clean energy firm had hired a lobbyist associated with Hillary Clinton’s election campaign to lobby Secretary Clinton’s State Department in their favor … and, by the way, had failed to register as a lobbyist working for a foreign entity as the law requires.  Not hard to imagine the 24/7 outrage on Faux News.  As for the complaint against Keystone, we can expect crickets from Faux News.

A video animation created by artist Mark Fiore, depicting the not-so-far-fetched “State Department Oil Services” led by Hillary Clinton:

Visit DeSmogBlog’s Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Action Page for more information.

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