Carrie La Seur of Plains Justice is mad. President Obama goes to oil country to fast-track the Keystone XL South. Oklahoma state troopers corral protestors in a Cushing, OK, park far from the President's invitation-only crowd. And who has egg on their face? "Big Green," says La Seur, the environmental activists who unnecessarily politicized Keystone XL away from a discussion of very substantive, non-partisan concerns:
Back in 2010, Keystone XL was undergoing serious scrutiny for pipeline steel quality, emergency response planning, routing issues, and other serious technical matters that had the potential to alter or even shelve the project. There were administrative challenges contemplated that wouldn't have involved the presidential permit but would have required re-evaluation of the full length of the project. Inadequate pipeline siting oversight by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, for example, was a major issue allowed to fall into the weeds by an international tar sands campaign fixated on drawing television cameras and column inches. There was a deliberate decision in late 2010 to back off of technical research and administrative challenges to fund billboards, big ads in major media, protests, etc. [Carrie La Seur, "Public Support for Keystone XL and How Big Green Played It All Wrong," Great Plains Tar Sands Pipeline, 2012.03.22]
La Seur poses an interesting conundrum. President Obama had plenty of good practical reasons to reject the original Keystone XL application. But in a political environment, we needed the very public protests led by Jane Kleeb, Bill McKibben, and others to get that TV time and column space and turn up the political heat that pushed the President to make his decisions last November and January.
Now, though, that political push has provoked the inevitable counterpush. La Seur says that counterpush has "weakened the standing of one of the bestenvironmental presidents since Nixon" to the point where we get Obama at Cushing saying Yay, more oil!
This didn't have to happen. It's neither good politics nor good policy, and the tar sands campaign drove him to it without accomplishing any of its own goals. Take a bow, folks [La Seur 2012.03.22].