Why has Florida’s senior senator Bill Nelson, who has a strong pro-environment record, changed his stance this year to favor the Keystone XL pipeline extension?
That mysterious switch is the current focus of a new club that has been meeting at my house, called 350 South Florida, and the group is the subject of my Going Green column this month in the Biscayne Times. In the article, several founding members express reasons for joining this grassroots group to address the climate crisis.
Solving the Sen. Nelson mystery is just the first of many efforts that the group is planning, with the intent to raise awareness locally and solve climate change issues globally. The group formed after an intensive weekend training in Coral Gables provided by 350.org, an international movement founded by Bill McKibben, a leading writer and activist against global warming. Within only a few years of existence, the movement has led some of the most visible and effective demonstrations to address climate change.
Getting back to Sen. Nelson, he was against the Keystone XL pipeline before he was for it, so something or someone influenced him within the past year. Money? Fame? A secret crush on Republicans? As a leading Democrat from a non-oil state–actually an anti-oil drilling state–his position makes little sense, and suspicions grow around such contradictions.
Recent comments from President Obama indicate that he is likely to kill the project. Even if that happens, supporters of the project will need to explain why they want to risk pumping dirty fuel through the heartland so that a port in Texas can send it overseas. The new pipeline from Canada offers very few jobs and benefits for Americans and a very, very high risk to the seven billion people of planet Earth.