— Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, ‘Keystone pipeline decision will write Obama’s legacy’ (via publicsq)
Nice little article that ends with what I dream every environmental writer would do, answer the question: “What do we do now?”…
Yet oil pipelines are hardly the only pieces of energy infrastructure that will require government approval in coming years. This is particularly true if the United States wants to build a new clean-energy economy.
The country has already seen strong opposition to offshore wind energy in Massachusetts (ie. the decade-long Cape Wind ordeal), including from environmental activists and local landowners, on the grounds that it will ruin spectacular ocean views. Solar plants will need to be built in sunny deserts, but local opponents continue to insist that the landscape blight would be intolerable. New long distance transmission lines will have to cross multiple states in order to bring that power to the places that need it most. Once again, though, a patchwork of local concerns and inconsistent state regulation is already making the task exceedingly difficult.
…Indeed, as energy becomes increasingly important to American foreign policy, there is a strong case to be made for giving more power to Washington. Security analysts have long argued that access to robust and varied supplies of fossil fuels, including domestic ones, enhances the nation’s freedom of action in the world. But another front has now opened: American soft power — its ability to attract and persuade — is increasingly undermined by the government’s inability to take strong action on climate change, something that local opposition to clean energy development only makes worse…
To be certain, energy policy cannot and should not disregard local opinion and opposition. Those who are affected most by energy development deserve a special role in shaping its course. But that should not be taken to an extreme that makes effective national energy policy impossible.