Two weeks of protest against Keystone XL ends Saturday

Gus Speth arrested in front of the White House. Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood

Two weeks of civil disobedience and protest against the Keystone XL pipeline ends this Saturday (Sept. 3), with a rally and final sit-in. Over 1,000 people have been arrested, including my former professor , Gus Speth.

The protestors want President Obama to deny a permit to construct a pipeline to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the Midwest and Texas—a nearly 2000 mile trek. The pipeline would cross major rivers and the Ogallala aquifer, one of the largest aquifers in the world and the primary source of water for much of the Midwest. Further, extracting oil from the tar sands is a horrifically dirty, energy-intensive process, much more so than conventional oil extraction. A decision on the permit will be made by the State Department, likely in December of this year.

You know you are at the bottom of the ninth when you are schlepping a tonne of sand to get a barrel of oil. — Jeff Rubin

Meanwhile, President Obama took advantage of the pending long weekend to quietly announce that EPA will abandon revisions to the low-level ozone standard. The decision leaves in place, for now, a less stringent Bush administration standard. It would appear that President Obama’s focus is perceived short-term political gain, to the detriment of the long-term health of our communities. And to tell the truth, I just don’t see how caving on this ozone standard will help the President politically.

Both of these key decisions—Keystone XL and low-level ozone—will serve to increase the great inequality that is becoming the defining characteristic of America today. On that point, I encourage you to read Gus Speth’s article describing America’s last place standing among the 20 major advanced countries: Make no mistake: oil from Canada’s tar sands will not save Americans money at the gas pump and will not bring sustainable jobs. And even if the rejection of more stringent ozone rules helped small businesses (it doesn’t), it would still come on the backs of low-income urban communities throughout America. Inequality in today’s America is inextricably linked to environmental health in urban America.

Environmental justice groups, for one, should be appalled by the ozone decision and by the possibility that the Administration would approve Keystone XL.  And so, I would hope that the protests against Keystone XL are only the beginning.

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Reader Comments

5 Replies to “Two weeks of protest against Keystone XL ends Saturday”

  1. Pure speculation, but I wonder if Obama agreed to the ozone rule rollback as part of the negotiations over the debt ceiling. I’m sure it was on the wish list of Republican negotiators, doing the bidding of their important constituents. Otherwise, this decision just doesn’t seem to make sense, either politically or economically.

  2. Obama’s decision to abandon the ozone rule strikes me as even more outrageous as I reread David Pettit’s old blog posting: “EPA Ozone Rule Reconsidered: Science, Not Politics This Time”
    So much for science this time. The OIRA/Cass Sunstein letter is a piece of work as well. The foremost reason given for bailing on public health and caving (again) to GOP pressure: “Under the [Clean Air Act] finalizing a new standard now is not mandatory […]”

    The Obama administration can do better.

  3. “…even if the rejection of more stringent ozone rules helped small businesses (it doesn’t), it would still come on the backs of low-income urban communities throughout America…”

    The EPA exaggerated and mislead the public about health effects from ozone, so we no longer believe anything from the EPA. Contrary to EPA’s lies, there are no proven and documented human deaths from ozone exposure (or carbon dioxide exposure). This is a fake public health problem.

    EPA’s junk-science cannot withstand scientific scrutiny and this is why these phoney-baloney ozone rules were withdrawn. This is a great victory for ordinary citizens in America.

  4. Politically, Obama’s move helps the campaign to make people “bqrqing” mad about the EPA (see comment above), but neutralizes some of the barking mad opposition to Obama. Shrewd.

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