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Monday, October 24, 2016

Flush with their victory in the midterm elections, the Republicans in Congress promised fresh leadership.

Instead, both the Senate and House GOP majorities made the speedy and symbolic approval of Keystone XL pipeline bills one of their first priorities. They did this despite polls showing that Americans are increasingly skeptical about this tar sands pipeline and knowing full well that President Barack Obama would veto this legislation.

As if that weren’t enough, numerous studies, like one the EPA just released, predict that the project would be a climate disaster.

In their rush to force approval of the pipeline, Republican lawmakers plowed over a number of publicly popular proposals, voting down amendments that would have protected drinking water, supported wind jobs, and made the Koch brothers (who’ve raked in millions in the oil business) disclose the full extent of their prodigious political spending.

That doesn’t look like a bill for either jobs or energy. It looks like a plan to keep big polluters and major campaign donors happy.

It’s also a big waste of time. The president has made his intention to veto the legislation clear, and the GOP lacks a veto-proof majority.

Scrapping the pipeline would give Congress a chance to show real leadership by investing in clean energy and freeing us from our reliance on polluting fossil fuels. After all, the solar and wind industries have more than tripled in capacity since 2008 and now employ some 200,000 people.

Yet many Republican lawmakers oppose renewing critical tax credits that would help keep those industries thriving.

Instead, they’re remaining stubbornly loyal to King Coal and Big Oil. Most of them refuse to even acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are significantly causing climate change.

Well, there’s one notable exception: Senator Jim Inhofe. The new Senate Environment and Public Works committee chair did take time to write a book about the topic. Only the Oklahoma Republican claims that climate change is a hoax.

Meanwhile, polls show that the American people — including a majority of Republican voters — overwhelmingly want the government to take climate action and promote clean energy.

Instead of listening to the voters who elected them, Congress is falling over itself to fulfill every wish of the Koch brothers and other giant corporate donors.

Fortunately, we do still have leaders who take climate and energy seriously, and not just in the White House.

In his latest inaugural address, California governor Jerry Brown proposed that his state could achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. “The challenge,” said Brown, “is to build for the future, not steal from it.” (Though to actually do that, he’ll have to say no to fracking.)

Burlington, Vermont, meanwhile, just became the first U.S. city to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy.

With most members of Congress doing their best to flush our future down a dirty tar sands pipeline, it’s never been more important to show that this country has both the will and the means to build something better.

Climate activists don’t have Koch-sized billions to do it — nor do we need them. We’re already leading the movement for clean energy and climate action from the grassroots up, as we proved last September at the People’s Climate March in New York City.

That was the largest climate march in history, and it won’t be the last. Community organizations, college students, and a diverse array of coalitions are working together to lead the fight for clean energy.

Politicians who think there’s time to waste on bad energy policies need to think again.

Michael Brune is the executive director of the Sierra Club, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

Originally posted at Other Words.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    The Republican insistence to build the Keystone XL pipeline, and their efforts to help the coal industry, has nothing to do with stupidity. The position is influenced by the old adage “don’t bite the hands that feed you”. The Koch brothers, the coal industry, and the arms industry have spent billions of dollars helping Republicans win elections, and the recipients of that help are now obligated to protect and advance the interests of their masters.

    • drdroad

      Speaking of Big Coal, read Gray Mountain, its an eye opener concerning coaling in the Appalachia. Hard to believe this crap happens in America.

    • hicusdicus

      Dominick, as of right now alternative green energy is about a real as the second coming of Christ. If environmentalist were not so crazy radical I would join today . Right now all we have is fossil fuel to furnish the energy needs of 7 billion people. Science needs to work on getting all fossil fuel as clean as possible. Coal is one of the few reasons you can read this. I have installed complete solar, inverter, generator and battery power in a place where I lived. It is expensive, complicated, high maintenance and way to technical for the average person. Soar energy is not pollution free. Op’s speaking of pollution it morning evacuation time. Bye.

    • Dominick Vila

      I don’t recall saying that, at this moment, fossil fuels are not our main source of energy, or that alternative sources of energy can replace oil today. Unfortunately, it is going to be a very long time for wind, solar, and hydroelectric plants, to replace oil as our main source of energy.

      That doesn’t mean, however, that we should support the construction of a pipeline to transport highly corrosive tar sand oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for export to China. Why should we put our environment at risk, after the Canadian people refused to allow the construction of that pipeline through their country because of environmental concerns, to ensure the Koch brothers can increase their profit margins?

  • Doc Lakes

    Here we find even more lies from Obama, this time about Obamacare:

    • FireBaron

      And your point (outside of the one on top of your head) is?

  • FireBaron

    And once again people tend to forget that after the pipeline is built, under current federal standards there will only be 30-40 permanent jobs. Should the gutting of the regulations calling for that many workers take place (as the Koch brothers would like), this will only provide about 15 jobs.
    Also, not one drop of this oil is designated for use in the United States. If the Saudi Arabian tactic of allowing oil prices to plummet continues, it won’t be worth the money it takes to pump that stuff out of the ground.

  • Deepak Into

    We also need to keep in mind that the mentality of today’s liberals necessitates an active, vigorous, armed self-defense.