Why Won't Clean Tech Community Stand Up Against Keystone Pipeline?


Image credit: Tar Sands Action, used under Creative Commons license.
Leading environmental leaders have called for civil disobedience against the Keystone Pipeline, and James Hansen has argued that if Obama approves Keystone, it will prove his entire climate stance is a fallacy. Yet even as arrests of anti-tar sands protesters start racking up outside the White House, and Union leaders link arms with the environmental movement—one key stakeholder is apparently conspicuous largely by its absence.

Where the heck is the clean tech community on this issue?That's the big question emanating from many in the activist community. A recent press release from 350.org argues forcefully that while the labor movement and traditional environmental organizations are busy raising their voices and getting arrested, the clean tech community has yet to take a significant stance on this most crucial of climate and energy issues:

Now in its second week, the Tar Sands Action, a civil disobedience at President Obama's White House, is galvanizing and unifying the environmental movement and beginning to see support from national unions. Yet cleantech, a group of industries that see the business opportunity and moral goodness of global clean energy, has so far stayed away.

Exactly why the clean tech community has yet to join the fight in significant numbers is, of course, hard to say. Bill McKibben made the case back in early August for why clean tech should oppose Keystone, arguing that anyone interested in an innovative, efficient and clean approach to powering America has to start resisting those who pursue business as usual. Because business as usual will sure as heck be resisting change:

Our common opponent is, of course, fossil energy interests. Led by the likes of the Koch brothers, and oil and coal companies, it fights the clean economy in every theater: on efficiency (think of the stonewalled "Cash for Caulkers" bill, proposed by John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins), on renewables, on offshore wind, on empowering the EPA, on... well, look, or have your policy people look, and there they'll be.

Of course, with clean tech being a relatively fledgling industry compared to the gigantic fossil fuel lobbies, there may be many who argue that we shouldn't rock the boat. Let the environmentalists and the unions take on Keystone, and let clean tech work on its own issues. But with the US solar industry alone showing a large trade surplus, it's time that everybody who believes in clean energy started setting their sights higher.

Pushing for a 100% renewable world means garnering unprecedented support for clean technology, renewables and energy efficiency, but it will also mean standing up against the dirtiest forms of old school power. And there are few more dirty than Canadian tar sands.

More on the Keystone Pipeline
What You Need to Know About Canadian Tar Sands
Environmental Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience on Keystone Pipeline
NASA Scientist Says Obama Approval of Keystone Will Prove He WAs Greenwashing on Climate
It Begins: 70 Arrests of Tar Sands Protesters Outside White House

Tags: Activism | Canada | Global Climate Change | Peak Oil | United States

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