Well, Auntie Ruth didn’t write that line. David Bowie did, years ago. And it was no headline, it was a lyric. These days? We reduce everything to sound bites and headlines, and this lyric is headline-ready. President Barack Obama could write it. Bill McKibben could. The Environmental Protection Agency sure could, or the National Resource Defense Council, or the Sierra Club.
The car we’re always crashing in is, well, not a car. In this case, Auntie Ruth is referring to the Keystone XL Pipeline intertwinement with Congress’s payroll-tax-cut package. Stated differently, “It’s bullshit,” Sierra Club president Michael Brune noted on Politico. “This is no way to run a government.”
The opposition to the pipeline has been inspired. It’s durn rare for thousands of people to get arrested for an environmental issue (1,200-plus did in Washington, D.C., in November); it’s durn rare to have civil disobedience result in a win for our side (which it did, until mid-December). And it’s durn rare when an environmental cause becomes the wishbone in the national debate.
By wishbone, Auntie means that familiar imbroglio when Republicans grab one side of the bone, the Democrats the other, and they pull until the bone is cut in two, with the side having a little more bone than the other being declared the winner. Usually the environment is ignored as unboneworthy.
Here are the facts. Bone up: The pipeline will not create 20,000 jobs as Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann have stated. It will create a work force “of 5,000 to 6,000 workers” according to a state-department analysis. The 20,000 figure is “based on ‘person-year’ estimates … employing 6,000 people for three years equals 18,000 jobs,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont noted to CSM that the Republicans are “unable to sell the pipeline as necessary to meet the country’s energy needs, which it is not, or to refute charges that tar-sands strip mining and the burning of high-carbon oil cause egregious harm to the environment and health, which it does.” He dismisses the inflated job numbers as a scare tactic.
Will the tactic work? As of this writing, it’s moment to moment. See www.tarsandsaction.org for the current skinny. May the new year will bring fewer crashes in the same car. Right. And we breathe the weary sigh.