by Ash Lauth, The Vote Solar Initiative
On my list of New Year's resolutions, I have a lot of what you'd expect: go outside more, drink less coffee, try new music, learn how to play banjo. But there's one on there that sticks out - Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. At first blush, that seems like a rather lofty, atypical goal. But I guarantee you, I'm not the only one. Hundreds of thousands of people across the US and Canada have made this one of their New Year's resolutions (and I bet you're one of them).
Here's the kicker though: we only have 42 days. Yup, let me say that again: We have 42 days to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being permitted into construction.
On December 23rd, Congress passed the Payroll Tax Cut bill which Obama signed into law. While the bill was intended to address many pressing economic issues, it hoghoused an amendment on KXL. It requires the Obama Administration to prove, within 60 days, that a delay in the Keystone XL pipeline (as was established last November) is not in the national interest. If it fails to carry this burden of proof, or fail to make a decision at all, then KXL is automatically permitted.
That deadline is for this decision is Tuesday, February 21st.
We know this has very little to do with climate change or human rights. Both parties have made it abundantly clear that those two issues are pretty far down on their list of priorities. This is about power groping, a quibbling tit-for-tat between the two parites, and most of all, money.
Now, more than ever, do we see the insidiousness of money creep into our halls of government; it pours poison into the ears of our elected officials like some modern-day Lady Macbeth. Above all, Big Oil has made our democracy a sham. From Chevron to BP to TransCanada, it's undeniable that Big Oil is the pupetteer.
That's why our explosive showing of grassroots power frightened them (yes, Big Oil was genuiinely frightened). We excercised a power they'll never have - people power - although they are trying to appear as though they have it. Big Oil is frightened that their bag of tricks won't work anymore, so they did the next logical thing - they threatened Obama.
American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard threatened President Obama that should he deny the KXL permit, there would be "huge political consequences." In a post-Citizen's United world, we unfortunately have to take this seriously.
And we have to show what consequences we can leverage. We have to take the fight to Big Oil's doorstep. We have to use our people power to prove that there are human consequences to their actions, there are real-life repurcussions to malevolent back-room deals, there are serious ramifications to trying to buy out democracy.
We'll do this by greeting API and it's membership at their events and mic-check them; by visiting them at their offices and disrupting business as usual; we'll storm their disingenuous advertising and brand-jam them. At every turn, they will hear the voice of the American public and see the strength of the 99%.
For the battle against KXL to be won, it has to be absolutely clear that incurring the ire of the people is by far the gravest consequence. So for the next 42 days, let's be an inescapable, unignorable force against Big Oil and corporate greed.
Let's not make a threat. Let's make that a promise.