Kate Aronoff / The Guardian – 2017-01-29 19:32:56
From Pipelines to Refugees, Everything Trump Does Is Connected
Kate Aronoff / The Guardian
LONDON (January 27, 2017) — Donald Trump is the fossil fuel industry’s puppet, and he’s spent the first few days of his administration doing its bidding. A former ExxonMobil executive is en route to become the country’s top diplomat, and the Centers for Disease Control has cancelled a long-planned conference to discuss the impacts of climate change on public health. And now, thanks to a presidential memorandum, the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines have been brought back from the dead.
Trump has sided with TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, since as early as 2011. Talking to the rightwing Toronto Sun, he praised the then-prime-minister Stephen Harper for championing the project scientists have deemed a “carbon bomb”.
TransCanada, in turn, flirted back. “Anytime someone is going to talk about the practical benefits of this $7bn project, regardless of what people think of Mr. Trump, it’s a good thing,” said a company spokesperson. Now, he’s virtually acting as their spokesman-in-chief.
The fights against those projects symbolized everything Trump and his cabinet appear to stand against: indigenous communities, working people, scientists, college students and more, all coming together to take on corporate interests and the governments that support them. Now, they’re being punished.
Most unnervingly for Trump, we won. The Keystone pipeline was rejected by the Obama White House in 2015 after a lengthy fight, and the Dakota Access pipeline — just over a year later — was denied an army permit needed to complete the final leg of construction.
Trump’s move to reverse victories feeds into his overall implicit goal: centralizing money and power in the hands of as few people as possible, freeing markets at the expense of people. Republican leaders and the corporate interests who fund them rarely work within the kinds of issue silos that progressives tend to, segmenting concerns about the climate off from those about mass incarceration and labor rights.
Take the Heritage Foundation, the rightwing thinktank from which Trump’s team lifted their draconian “skinny budget” proposal. The White House is now promising $10.5tn in cuts over the 10 next years, to be achieved by gutting everything from welfare to public transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
And Heritage’s Blueprint for a New Administration contains all sorts of proposals that have translated into White House action: rolling back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), promoting so-called “school choice” programs, opening federal lands to privatization. “The next President’s budget,” they write, “should prohibit all federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”
As the fossil fuel industry’s puppet, Trump is also Heritage’s and the Koch brothers’. And it’s not that Trump is being duped. It’s just that — as a one-percenter himself — he’s had their interests (his interests) at heart all along: to extract as much as possible from working people and communities of color in the name of profit.
The left doesn’t need issue silos, either. For one, they’re flat wrong. Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines are racist by design, cutting through sacred indigenous land in order to line the pockets of executives and investors like Trump, who, as recently as 2015, held $250,000 of stock in TransCanada, and still has thousands invested in the Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
The climate crisis those pipelines and Trump’s other proposals threaten to drive forward are already helping to force refugees out of places like Syria, exacerbating droughts that have fuelled conflict there.
As resources become scarcer, more people will be criminalized and imprisoned, making way for the wealthy to keep consuming as much as they do now. And the types of Wall Street executives Trump has appointed to his cabinet could stand to make a fortune off the climate crisis, like they did after the Great Recession.
The right is the most organized and unified force in America right now. The people opposing them might take a page from the people who killed the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines the first time around and catch up, leaving the silos and single-issue fights behind.
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