(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
When I think of Abraham Lincoln, my first thought is emancipation: the process of setting one free from legal, social, or political restrictions. In his day it meant ending the scourge of human enslavement. And although Lincoln's primary challenge during his Presidency was preserving the Union, it's not often someone also thinks of the Lincoln Presidency as one that transformed American agriculture. His background made him uniquely suited for the vision: he was well-versed in pioneer farming and rural life; he understood and participated in small town democracy.
Lincoln understood the power in educating his fellow man: in July of 1862 he wrote in to law the Morrill Land Grant Act, establishing our nation's land grant university system. He understood the transformational nature of technology: from hand labor to horse-drawn power; from there to steam power. He understood the need to unleash the full production capacity of American soil. He understood that the best use of labor was for the opportunity for those laborers to become landowners, no longer the "mud sill" laborers, or slaves, that defined the current agricultural paradigm. Thus, the Homestead Act of 1862. Lincoln's Pacific Railroad Act opened up the western United States to trade and the delivery of goods. It also provided for a telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. He identified the need for a permanent government agency to further the research and development of crops and livestock, so in that same year he established the United States Department of Agriculture and gave it Cabinet status. He called it, "the peoples department".
Lincoln thought BIG.
At some risk of being taken out-of-context, it would be hard to argue that Lincoln's vision of an emancipated, educated citizenry has yet to come to full fruition. Our struggles as a nation continue. Today, there are more African-Americans on probation, parole or in prison than there were slaves in 1850. We are faced with a stagnant job market and woeful under-investment in educating our next generation. A crumbling infrastructure and a climate in collapse. A national economy addicted to petroleum – not unlike our addiction to slave labor in the days of Lincoln. And a wealthy few who would fight to the bitter end, even war, to preserve a business-as-usual scenario.
Our challenges remain. Today we're bombarded with a multi-million dollar ad campaign attempting to convince the American public that our national energy security will be found in a pipeline from Canada, the KeystoneXL. The business-as-usual crowd is spending millions to keep our addiction to the illusion of cheap oil firmly intact. That same crowd seemingly has no angst at the pillage of our nation's most precious resources to create immense wealth for a few. And a growing belief by some that our bests days are behind us.
If we don't deal with the root of our nation's problems in a full-out embrace, like the struggle of a freed slave over 150 years ago, we'll find our nation generations from now still unable to free ourselves of the shackles of enslavement of economic and climate ruin.
Just what would a President Lincoln do today – assuming he had the benefits of a cooperative Congress? Faced with the prospects of an encroaching pipeline from the north that would perpetuate our addiction to cheap resources, would he acquiesce in its establishment? Or, would his vision of a rural America, capable of embracing technology and converting its perennial, infinite resources into liquid fuel while creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs win his support?
Would he take a very different approach to the idea of the doubling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a physical, underground reserve of raw, crude oil established under the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), primarily to counter a severe supply interruption? The initial threat, which prompted the law, was supply interruption as a result of Middle Eastern conflicts. Today, our threats are different, and some would say more severe: extreme weather events. Lincoln would likely propose the expansion as an above-ground, working reserve of widely distributed biofuels plants with standing reserves of fuel. A network of plants incapable of being annihilated, in whole, by a single event.
We know how to do it. We know we have the resources. We know the threats. And we know the opportunities.
All we need is the political will.
A President Lincoln may well have declared war under these conditions. He would have erred to the side of emancipation. Emancipation from a centralized energy model dependent upon extraction and imports. Emancipation from an inevitable climate collapse. He would have erred on the side of American ingenuity, American, global leadership and growing our economy in a way that was built to last. He would have envisioned a LincolnXL Pipeline, extra-large in its vision for our future; extra-large in its embrace of American ideals. A virtual pipeline that gathers the best of our resources: human, natural, technological and political. A virtual pipeline that delivers the kind of change necessary to address our global challenges, not a perpetuation "business-as-usual". A virtual pipeline that values the ingenuity of America over sticky goo in the Boreal Forest. A virtual pipeline that can deliver the kind of rural renaissance we know is waiting in the wings. A virtual pipeline that gives us real national, economic and energy security.
By definition, Keystone stands for "locking the whole together". In that case it is aptly named: it will lock our globe in to a death spiral of economic and climatic challenges we can ill afford.
Let's say no to that vision.
Let's say yes to the LincolnXL Pipeline.