Leading environmental doom sayer Bill McKibben (or doom slayer, depending on your outlook) will be delivering the keynote speech at this weekend’s Keystone XL Pipeline protest in Seattle.
The protest, scheduled this Saturday at Myrtle Edwards park, is in reaction to the increasingly fraught debate in the Senate over the frighteningly gigantic 2147 mile long crude oil pipeline that will connect Canada with the Gulf Coast. The Southern portion of the pipeline has already been completed, but the Northern portion needs US approval since it crosses international borders.
As NPR reports, the Senate is currently debating a new measure that would rule the pipeline in the national interest. While the measure wouldn’t have any binding effect, Obama’s first ever climate change speech this summer revealed his somewhat tepid policy that he would not approve the pipeline if there was “significant proof that it would exacerbate climate change.” Reading between the lines, Obama’s stance on the issue might simply be dicatated by popular opinion, lending the current Senate debate more weight than it would seem at first glance.
TransCanada, the company who proposed the pipeline, suggests that Canada will continue to develop green energy even with the pipeline in place. Even if the pipeline isn’t built, the TransCanada argues that oil companies will simply get the oil from somewhere else, likely crude oil from Venezuela. But for many environmentalists, the pipeline has become a bellwether for the direction the United States will decide to go on climate change in the impending future. In NASA climatoligist James Hansen’s excellent New York Times op-ed last year, he declared approval for the pipeline would be “game over” for the fight against climate change.
Indeed, despite Canada’s outward rosy appearance on green issues, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has recently cracked down on climate scientists’ rights to talk openly about their research, the most recent move in the prevailing current global climate political strategy: If we don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away.
Meanwhile, Syria is giving fuel to politicians who want to turn the issue into a foreign policy debate about Middle Eastern oil interests and American energy independence.
The Seattle protest against the pipeline is one in a nationwide series of protests organized by 350.org. Leading environmental superstar Bill McKibben, the event’s keynote speaker, is stopping by Town Hall next Monday.
Draw The Line: The Northwest Says NO! To Fossil Fuel Export, Saturday, September 21, 11:00 AM Myrtle Edwards Park on the downtown waterfront (just north of the SAM Sculpture Park) Seattle