Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

48 Hours Later—Update on Keystone XL

Climate
48 Hours Later—Update on Keystone XL

Bill McKibben

About 48 hours ago, I told you we’d probably have a clearer picture of what was going on with the pipeline fight in 48 hours.

I was wrong, mistaken, and also incorrect. As it stands now, things in Washington couldn’t be muddier. The Senate, with the White House’s consent, passed a payroll tax cut plan with a rider attached that would have forced a speedy review of Keystone. That sounds bad—except that administration spokesmen said quite bluntly that if they were forced to do a quick review they’d deny the permit.

That sounds good—except that now the Tea Party caucus in the House has decided they don’t want the payroll tax cut, and they do want the Senate to come back to DC for more talks, and…you get the drift. At least for the moment, Keystone is flotsam on the unchartable tides of DC politics.

We’re monitoring it as closely as we can, and if anything definitive emerges from the money-filled rooms, or if there’s any obvious action that you can take beyond all the emailing and phone-calling to date, we’ll tell you immediately. Keep an eye on your email inbox, please—and in the meantime we’ll be posting play-by-play updates to our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. You can also join our rapid-response SMS network by using your cell phone to text the word "PLUGIN" to the number 50555.

Here’s one thing that’s emerged more plainly with each passing day. Right now in Washington, money rules. Sooner or later Big Oil will ram Keystone, and fracking, and a thousand other bad ideas down our throats unless we manage to change the system. That’s what we’re going to have to work on next year if we have any hope of ever bringing climate change under control. I think part of the problem is: we’ve come to feel that money’s hammerlock on policy is sad but completely inevitable.

We’ve let ourselves be cynical, which is understandable (the Capitol should have an Exxon sign out front, and a couple of pumps, and a grubby bathroom) but also weak.

Instead, I think we need to stand up for a certain kind of naïveté. We need to say it’s not right that the 234 House members who voted for Keystone last week had taken $42 million in dirty energy money. It’s no different than if before next weekend’s Patriots-Miami game, the owner of the Dolphins trotted out to midfield and handed each referee ten grand. It stinks.

Next year, we’ll be delivering this message to Representatives and Senators everywhere: if the energy industry is giving you presents, you shouldn’t be giving them presents back. Not with our money, and not with our landscape.

Apologies again for misleading you about how quickly we’d know the score in DC. I underestimated, not for the first and not for the last time, how screwed up the place really is. But we can do something about that. And we will.

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less