The Supreme Court ruled in favor of oil and gas companies on Monday when they approved fast-track permitting for pipeline construction across the U.S. This was in reaction to a ban on fast-track permitting for pipelines that cross water bodies that was issued by a lower court in Montana. The Supreme Court ruled that this ban on crossing water bodies will only apply to the well-known Keystone XL Pipeline. Other pipelines, like the Mountain Valley pipeline in West Virginia, now can be more easily permitted to cross under nearly 1,000 rivers and wetlands.
Environmental groups that have fought against the Keystone XL pipeline are right to celebrate that this pipeline will be further delayed. At the same time, the overall ruling was applauded by the American Petroleum Institute and called a “significant step towards restoring more certainty for energy companies.” The government makes a big show of putting their finger in the dam to block oil production, but this is a distraction from the floodgates they keep opening further for oil and gas.
Even as the U.S. Supreme Court delayed construction in the U.S. for the Keystone XL pipeline, the construction in Canada has continued completely uninterrupted, and with the help of 5.3 billion U.S. dollars in financial aid from the Canadian government.
Activists in the environmental movement must draw an honest balance sheet: the fight against global climate disruption is not being won in court or through legislation. We have won some serious victories because of our pressure in the streets, blocking industry’s plans aggressively on the ground.
2020 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, with record breaking temperatures and fires in Siberia, which will dump further greenhouse gasses into the environment. Delaying individual pipelines, just like changing individual lifestyles, will do nothing in the face of the climate disruption we are facing.
While we stall the fossil fuel industry here and there, in order to begin to face the climate crisis seriously it will take at minimum a revolution that places the power in the hands of working and oppressed people. The mass movements of working people leading to a revolution will create alternative decision-making organizations for society that will be completely outside of the control of any industry. This new democracy of the 99% will allow us to pour all of our resources, scientific knowledge, and efforts into transforming the world, not only to end fossil fuel dependence, but also to begin to slow the feedback loops that threaten our entire species and life on this planet.
featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons