The things he didn’t say…

Posted January 29th, 2014 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on The things he didn’t say…

Fostering Ecological Hope
Reflections on Culture and Meaning

by Margaret Swedish

I’ve heard and seen people applauding President Obama’s nod to climate change in his State of the Union address.

“…the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

He made that statement after reaffirming his commitment to increased greenhouse gas emissions from fracking and more environmental devastation with his “all of the above” approach to energy.

“The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades. One of the reasons why is natural gas—if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.”

The man speaks with forked tongue. Fact is, more fracking and drilling is going on under his watch than ever before and his bid for the bogus thing called “energy independence” is part of what is driving this wholesale assault on the Earth wherever shale full of gas bubbles exists.

Sorry, Mr. President, but you can’t have it both ways – you cannot destroy the village to save it.

So, what might President Obama have said that would have indicated a serious commitment to strong environmental policies?

How ’bout this:

“We call for a moratorium on fracking until we can fully understand its impacts where it is occurring. We will look into the evidence that it is poisoning groundwater, placing exorbitant demands on water leading to potential severe water shortages and diversions which can cause harm to wetlands and aquifers, leading to the strip-mining and wholesale destruction of sand hills in the Upper Midwest, contaminating the air with pollutants, causing earthquakes, and emitting huge amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas more potent in what it contributes to global warming than CO2. We will examine industry practices and ultimately give the higher priority to protecting the environment than to fracking more oil and gas.”

Or this:

“We were all shocked by the chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people in the Charleston area. Investigators discovered that Freedom Industries was grossly negligent in the inspection of their site and should never have been allowed to build a chemical storage facility immediately upriver from city’s source of drinking water. The water remains unfit to drink. Since the spill, further reports have come out about the dangers of the chemical industry and the lack of regulations, endangering millions of people in this country. I pledge to create enforceable regulations on the industry to force them to place their highest priority on the safety of human and other living communities, and on protecting our water, air, and land from contaminants that can cause illness and death.”

Or this:

“Because fossil fuels are the source of emissions leading to catastrophic climate change, we call for an end to all taxpayer subsidies and tax credits for the oil, gas, and coal industries and for these public funds to be redirected towards the development, as quickly as possible, of alternative safe and renewable energy sources focused on locally sourcing them as much as possible. Rather than huge scale development we will prioritize appropriate technology based on the available resources of a given area – from sun to wind to geothermal to recycled hydrological sources.”

Or this:

“Recent reports show that, while the United States has lowered its emissions in recent years, one reason for that is that we are exporting more of our energy intensive industries to other countries, exporting more coal and oil to China, India, and elsewhere. If we are committed to reducing emissions, we will need to slow down and eventually end these exports, while creating a financial incentive to end our economic reliance on fossil fuel exports by the middle of this century.”

Or this:

“There is no question that if we are serious about tackling climate change, taking measures like these will cause the price of oil and gas to increase. That is actually a good thing. We need to raise the price as a disincentive for their use while making it less expensive to get our energy from the sun and the wind, or from other new technologies being researched as I speak. We will continue to create incentives for the most creative projects where scientists and engineers are developing wholly sustainable, clean, renewable energy sources for the future. Our economic and ecological future depends on us doing this as quickly as possible.”

Or this:

“You’ve probably noticed that train transport of oil has increased exponentially in recent years – more than 5 times, according to MSNBC, since 2008. You have seen the stories of train explosions in Quebec, Alabama, North Dakota, and New Brunswick. Investigators have determined that there is something extremely volatile about the oil being fracked in Bakken. I pledge to make a high priority of protecting our communities from the dangers posed by these tanker car trains. In that regard, I am halting the transhipment of Bakken oil by rail until we can determine whether or not it can be made safe.

“In addition, we have also seen in recent years multiple leaks and explosions from pipelines carrying natural gas and/or oil from Bakken and from the tar sands in Alberta. This cannot continue. Part of the reason for moving away from fossil fuels is that there is no safe way to transport them to refineries or to ports for export. Accidents will continue to happen and the stakes are only rising. For this reason, I have decided not to allow the northern section of the Keystone XL to be built, and I am calling for a halt to plans by other pipeline companies to repurpose or expand their pipeline infrastructure to increase transport of these dangerous fuels.

“Finally, there has been great controversy over two Canadian pipeline companies, TransCanada and Enbridge, which are using eminent domain to try to force property owners to relinquish their property rights so that proposed pipelines can cross their land. This is un-American and I will not allow it.”

What do you think? I mean, I could go on – a long list. Would have silenced a lot of his audience under the dome, and certainly many big donors to political campaigns, but it would have cheered millions of US citizens all across the country.

Dream on, Margaret, right? One day we will live in a world where a speech like that is possible – hopefully not too late for our survival.

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