Ralph Nader: Response to Bill McKibben

How easy it is to miscommunicate. I did not ask to speak at the rally opposing the Keystone XL devastator. On Friday, I went to the area in front of the White House to express my support for this extraordinary demonstration. Assistants to Bill McKibben asked me to return on Saturday and address the rally. If there was an arrest criterion for the speakers, it was not communicated to me when a few hours later they disinvited me. All this is to clarify the record – no big deal.

The other point brother McKibben makes is to equate criticism with a plea or a demand by over 1200 non-violent, civil disobedient arrestees before the White House that President Obama reject the pipeline project when it comes to his desk. They declined to, in their formal speeches and declarations, criticize Mr. Obama even though on the second to the last day of the two-week demonstration, Mr. Obama rejected the EPA’s key pollution control standard regarding ozone. This was preceded during the two weeks of McKibben’s group protest by the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that claimed the pipeline would have minimal environmental impacts.

There was no criticism of Obama by these White House protest leaders, who understandably, chose to position themselves in a way that conveyed to Obama and the media that they supported Obama and hoped he would adopt their position against the pipeline. (Some of the protestors, including McKibben even wore Obama pins or Obama t-shirts.)

We know how environmental groups “position” themselves whether dealing with deregulation of electricity years ago or with their differing stands on nuclear power. All we ask is not to muddle the language and equate demands for future decisions to be equated with criticisms.

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