Well, here we are again. Another year older and (hopefully) wiser. As we prepare for the transition to 2013, it’s time to strengthen our resolve to do better, and not just as individuals.
More than one important environmental battle was pushed to the back burner during this election year. After the inauguration in January, however, it’s time to get back to work. Multiple assessments say that it was the President’s stance on climate change that was the tipping point for many Americans. Now it’s time to demand that he make good on the promise to develop a national policy that addresses human-accelerated climate change at its source: the dirty energy industry.
Here are three issues that were put on hold during the campaign season, despite the fact that they directly threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans. Moving forward, it’s time to suit up and join the fight in 2013.
TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline has sparked national protests, petitions and lawsuits throughout 2012. By the oil industry’s own admission, such a massive oil transportation project will have spills, and they WILL put farms, drinking water supplies and Federally protected wildlife at risk. Since the Keystone XL will be carrying tar sands oil from Canada, as opposed to the regular old crude, when this oil spills, it will be a whole new monster the likes of which America has never seen.
Even more troubling, the leak detection technology that will be used on the Keystone XL, for instance, is standard for the nation’s crude oil pipelines and almost never detects leaks smaller than 1 percent of the pipeline’s flow. Since the Keystone will have a capacity of 29 million gallons per day, a spill would have to reach 294,000 gallons per day to trigger its leak detection technology.
Although the Keystone XL decision was put on hold in January 2012, TransCanada has every intention of holding the U.S. government to its promise of a Q1 2013 judgement. The oil industry is up to its usual tricks in an attempt to circumvent a thorough environmental impact assessment. How the Obama administration handles this decision will set the precedent for America’s energy future.
Frustrated by the Federal government’s inability to pump the brakes on the natural gas industry’s quest to frack the entire nation, activists have moved the fight to the local level. In May 2012, Vermont became the very first state to ban natural gas fracking outright. Previously, New York and New Jersey enacted temporary fracking bans, both of which were extended through 2012. In November 2012, Longmont, Colo., made national headlines when gas industry lobbyists failed to defeat a grassroots effort to ban fracking in the city limits. Although the ban’s passage was a victory for local activists, the gas industry has already filed a lawsuit to overturn it. Meanwhile, multiple fights to slow or ban the spread of hydraulic fracturing continue to be waged in states across the country.
As new research linking fracking to earthquakes, contaminated drinking water supplies, poisoned air and stricken cattle emerges, it’s important to keep the pressure on government and industry to clean up its act. No temporary source of dirty fuel is worth the lives and health of future generations.
Oil and Gas Subsidies
To his credit, Obama has remained fairly steadfast in his opinion that an end to oil and gas subsidies is long overdue. Back in March 2012, the President called upon Congress to choose the American people over the financial interests of oil and gas companies. They didn’t. During the Presidential debates, Obama reiterated this idea in frank language: “The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare.” And later, “It’s time to end it.”
Well Mr. President, 2013 seems like a great year to make good on that campaign trail assertion. We’re facing what alarmists like to call the fiscal cliff, an economic disaster that could be avoided almost completely by pushing bloated oil and gas companies out of the corporate welfare line. At the very least, when it comes time to make the 2014 budget we want to see those subsidies slashed, or even better, eliminated completely.
Want to take action? Sign the Sierra Club’s petition to end polluter subsidies instead of slashing important environmental programs.
Images via Thinkstock and Bloomberg Businessweek