The Keystone Fight Was a Horrific Waste

I want to echo what Jon Chait says here – the fight over the Keystone pipeline was a horrible one for environmentalists to embrace as their central battle.  The Keystone pipeline is, to be clear, not a good idea.  But the stakes of the pipeline are just so, so, so unimaginably low.  As he says:

Estimates differ as to how much approval of the Keystone pipeline would increase carbon emissions, but a survey of studies by the Congressional Research Service found that the pipeline would add the equivalent of anywhere between 0.06 percent to 0.3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year.

For this, the environmentalist movement has dedicated itself for years.  Not focusing on legislation about automotive efficiency, or pollution regulation or green energy – just this one pipeline.  For reference, here is a map of currently existing pipelines in America.

But one more would really mess up the place.

I’m sure the Sand Hills of Nebraska are wonderful, but good god.  The scale of environmental catastrophes that America is dealing with are simply staggering.  There’s overfishing, ocean acidification, urban particulate pollution, environmental lead, and of course actual real global warming.  Some of these are too large to hope to tackle all at one – but others are imaginable targets that deeply affect many millions of Americans every day.  Choosing to ignore all of those problems in favor of the pipeline seems like just an unconscionable waste of time.

It reminds me of what I once wrote about Mitt Romney and his continuous refrain of “entrepreneurialism” as the solution to all of life’s ills.  Romney and Bill McKibben have the same problem – they don’t see that their platform is irrelevant to most people, and they don’t seem to care.  They talk past everyone and don’t understand why no one and listening.


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