Hundreds of 350.org climate activists and Occupy Wall Street protesters took to Speaker of the House John Boehner's Ohio office today, where they proceeded to stage a "human oil spill". The action sought to draw attention to the GOP's efforts to smuggle a provision approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline onto an otherwise a popular payroll tax cut bill.
Garbed in black, the activists acted out a scene in which the pipeline ruptured and spread oil across a pristine Midwestern environment.
The president announced last month that he would delay his decision on whether to approve the pipeline until 2013, but fossil fuel industry interests don't seem to want to take no for an answer. They've leaned on the politicians they've long funded to help ram the unpopular proposal through. Last night, 234 Congressmen voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline in the House of Representatives.
BusinessWire offers a little insight as to why they might have done so: "The fossil fuel industry has poured an estimated $42,000,000 into campaign coffers of the 234 House members voting in favor, including $1,100,000 to Rep. Boehner alone, according to OpenSecrets.org. The industry lists the pipeline as a top priority."
Fossil fuel companies are among the most eager to fill the campaign coffers of sympathetic politicians like Rep. John Boehner, so it's really no surprise that he's led the effort to help them prosper despite opposition from his own constituents. It's this sort of imbalance, of course, that the Occupy Wall Street movement has honed in on. When campaign donations trump the demands of voters themselves, it's hard to describe what happens in D.C. as democracy.
“The House brings shame on itself when its members take tens of millions in big oil money and then do the industry's bidding. Keystone XL creates no net jobs and pours carbon into the atmosphere. That’s why millions across the country opposed it. Its only beneficiaries are the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they support,” Bill McKibben, 350.org founder and environmental author, said in a statement.
This collaboration between 350.org and #Occupy highlights yet again why the OWS movement is so important to modern environmentalism: anyone hoping for serious action on climate change should be aiming to get the money out of politics first.