Tar Sands Oil

Tar sand - Photo credit: macleans.ca

Dollar profits dominate politics determining the direction of national policies. Corporations control certain factors regarding the future of our country. Citizens united in civil society understand America must change course.

One project epitomized this juxtaposition of justice – TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.

On one side multinational corporations with record coffers and another side a citizen movement with renewed convictions put forward their positions.

Money often lubricates levers of legislation. Big oil companies pour funds to fuel their fortunes and further a nation of addiction to fossil fuels. However, people power when planned well can clog their claims and coordinate a campaign for a new country of priorities for our planet.

Recently, on January 18, President Obama rejected the federal permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline. If allowed this pipeline would run over 1700 miles through six states via crop and range land including aquifers transporting toxic, corrosive tar sands crude from Canada to Free Trade Zone in Port ArthurTexas.

Health, environmental and climate impacts outweighed the organized oil PACs call for jobs for America and cheap fuel. The message of easing pain at the pumps didn’t mask the main motivation of corporation profits. The security of a spill free system slides on the truth that the last similar pipeline spilled 12 times in the productions initial year and was temporarily shut down by the US Department of Transportation. The carbon bomb detonation was deterred when the global warming pollution produced from tar sands at three times as much as conventional crude was cancelled. President Obama’s action fulfilled multiple commitments to combating climate change, air pollution and oil addiction in America. Obama rejected this proposal for all the right reasons.

Beyond money, this illustrates what matters most is moral imagination mobilized in a movement.

Multiple waves of forces for future generations incorporated direct action and diplomacy during recent months. The 20 top scientists sent a letter and over 500,000 filed public comments on the plan. The Republican Governor of Nebraska insisted on an alternative pipeline route listening to his farmers meanwhile Republican Congress through legislation linked payroll tax cut with the fate of the pipeline. In September, 1,253 people were arrested on Obama’s doorstep. In November, over 12,000 surrounded the White House. In December, Rosebud and Oglala Sioux leaders along with Indigenous Environmental Network spoke truth to power to our nation’s political leaders.

Finally, a self-proclaimed “Too Big to Fail” energy project failed and the end of world didn’t happen. We can do more to point out the possible with people power.

Amidst claims of “huge consequences” by corporations, our president showed heroic courage choosing safety, clean drinking water, health, farmland and alternative clean energy future.

There is still important work to do regarding the tar sands such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. However, for today, we can reflect on what theories and tactics resulted in a victory for our Earth.

Of course, we can also make decisions that follow down the path of our president. When we prioritize our planet over profit listening to our citizens over corporations, it is possible to create conditions for a change in the game of governance.

Environmental movements made a conscious choice to employ nonviolent civil disobedience to match the mountain of money donated to elected officials. The dedication of direct action would measure up against the dollars dropped by corporate lobbyists. Can the lessons learned from the coordinated campaign spark similar strategies to show the two-party system steered by the same pool of political cash stacked by corporations that a new direction is desired.

The TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline is one of the few successes regarding environmental protection during this administration. We must study this creative campaign and continue on this path of peace and protection of our planet.