Year 4, Month 4, Day 21: It Takes A Village

Washington Post: “Environmentalists hope spill will turn Americans against Keystone.”

The 1,700-mile project, which would bring crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta to refineries in Port Arthur, Tex., enjoys broad support from the public. A Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday found 66 percent of Americans back the project, as opposed to 23 percent who oppose it.

But billionaire Tom Steyer, who hosted a Democratic fundraiser which President Obama headlined Wednesday night, is hoping to change that. His consultants held a focus group in Boston Wednesday night with likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters. Initially they found the group roughly evenly split in terms of attitudes toward the pipeline, until they showed them images of last week’s Exxon oil spill in Mayflower, Ark.

“When we showed footage of tar sands oil rolling down suburban streets in Arkansas, people in the focus groups were practically out of their chairs – even at the end of a two-hour focus group,” wrote consultant Mike Casey in an e-mail. “To a person, they were outraged. Two switched their votes on the spot from Lynch to Markey. The footage hit home with all of them.”

Lynch campaign campaign spokesman Conor Yunits wrote in an e-mail that oil also spilled in a train derailment in Minnesota, showing that alternative methods of transporting oil also have a downside.

“The question is, how can it be transported in the safest possible way? ‬” Yunits asked. “Congressman Lynch believes that if we can construct the pipeline safely, we should consider it. But, as he has said all along, if President Obama and Secretary Kerry ultimately decide that it cannot be constructed safely, he will support their decision.”

Lynch is running against Ed Markey for the newly open Senate seat. He’s a tool of the big money interests. Anyway, here’s my screed, sent April 9:

We’re often told they’re a cheap source of energy, but the true cost of fossil fuels has long been camouflaged by government support on one side, and a collective refusal to consider externalities on the other. While subsidies have kept prices artificially low and enriched a few individuals beyond any dreams of avarice, unacknowledged costs (health impacts, cleanup of spills and leaks, and global climate change, not to mention the wars) are piling up. Who’s going to pay the enormous bill? The taxpayers, of course.

We have long known that sustained exposure to petrochemicals can cause brain damage, but it’s becoming clear that it’s toxic in ways that go beyond the purely physiological. How else to explain the grotesque responses of oil company executives to the recent oil spills in Arkansas, Texas, Minnesota and Ontario? Oil apparently damages ethics and morality as effectively as it decimates wildlife and ravages ecosystems.

Warren Senders

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