Authored by Christiane Montuori on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Add the first comment!
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Cushing welcomes Obama. Why? And why was Obama in Cushing, Oklahoma? It’s the last place in the country he should be during a campaign season. It’s also the last place that should welcome him, coming on the heels of his decision to block construction of the (northern portion of the) Keystone XL pipeline. It’s very confusing. But Cushing is more than a just another Red State hotbed. It is the self-proclaimed “pipeline crossroads on the world”. If the U.S’s transition to renewable energy is successful, Cushing is in deep trouble.
Maybe that’s exactly the point. The transformation of our energy policy will disrupt the identities and lives of tens of thousands of good and earnest people…people who are dutifully feeding our energy thirst and, yes, creating a life of their own.
I began to see the connection while watching the advance screening of the documentary Switch, a visually astonishing effort to lead a balanced national energy conversation. The film follows Dr. Scott Tinker, Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology as he visits the most significant energy producers in the world. Here is the Plant Manager of Belle Ayr Mine, one of 13 in the Powder River Basin which together produce half of all US coal and nearly a quarter of US electricity (and a fair share of our CO2 emissions), beaming with pride about his excavation of “three Panama Canal’s worth” of coal every single year! Here is the bright and compassionate manager of the Perdido offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, risking life and limb – as did his colleagues on the BP Horizon rig – to power our Ford F-150s and automotive industry resurgence. Here is the undeniably human face of a vast, complex energy infrastructure…the very face that turned – respectfully, cynically and hopefully – toward a visiting Obama in Cushing.
Was Obama’s visit an act of leadership to begin “pacing the loss” for Cushing? Or, rather, was Cushing a convenient prop to appease those independents teetering toward the right in November? Some of us hope for a renewable energy answer in the technical solutions of solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear. Others recognize the need to change our own energy behavior. We need energy transformation, but it will not happen unless the advocates for change take responsibility for the casualties they will create along the way.