Pt 2: Subhankar Banerjee: The Obama administration’s focus on oil extraction and emphasis on fracking is not addressing climate change
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.
We’re continuing our conversation with Shubhankar Banerjee. He’s a photographer, writer, and activist, upcoming book Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point.
So, Shubhankar, we talked about the floods in Colorado, the link to climate change. Can you talk about what the Obama administration’s role has been in addressing climate change? He’s been praised for actually being a president that’s linked climate change to human activity. But what’s his relationship been with the environmental movement? And have his policies actually addressed the roots of climate change?
SHUBHANKAR BANERJEE, ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES SCHOLAR AND ACTIVIST: President Obama released his climate plan in this past June. And some have–some seem to believe that President Obama does have a climate plan. But the way–the reality shows–and I have been writing about it for several years now–is that the only plan that he has and has been following and pursuing and implementing is the one that was introduced in 2008 by Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican national party, and later made infamous by Sarah Palin, is drill, baby, drill. And President Obama essentially has been faithfully implementing Sarah Palin’s climate plan. Nothing has been going on.
And, in fact, what I have pointed out is that America is turning into a petro-imperial and petro-despot state. I say petro-imperial because the American foreign policy to get oil that we have done in the Middle East, in Nigeria, and other places is now being applied here in North America, Obama and Harper in tandem. And that’s the imperial part.
And then there is a despotic part, where the administration has been ignoring signs and ignoring the concerns of indigenous people and the rural communities. So it actually–the war is now against indigenous communities and rural communities in North America to push unprecedented drilling in the Arctic Ocean, an issue that I have been focusing on for the last 13 years. The administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, ignored all concerns of the indigenous communities, and allowed Shell to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean last year, exploratory drilling, the most dangerous form of drilling anywhere.
Now you look at fracking, which is actually a tragedy in Colorado right now, because more than 1,000 fracking wells have been flooded and a lot of those fracking crudes coming out. And we just heard today that even nuclear contamination is going on in Colorado right now. So there is fracking going on all across the country. The administration has supported a sale of and actually did sell coal in Wyoming, the Powder River Basin. And if you–and then extreme deep water drilling will happen now in the Gulf of Mexico, because Shell announced earlier this year that they’ll drill at a depth of 10,000 feet now. And the Deepwater Horizon was about 5,000 feet.
NOOR: Now, Shubhankar, so supporters of President Obama would say that, you know, he is confined by the political reality, lack of public support, and the Republicans, who will not back any real climate change initiatives. What’s your response to people that say that President Obama is doing is much as he can?
BANERJEE: That is absolutely not true, because you just mentioned the public. The public, as polls after poll show, are deeply concerned about climate change, and support, actually, public policy to address climate change.
And you brought up the Republican. Republican leadership of course has been horrible. Bush was the oil president, and then Obama is following in his heels. But the public–even the Republicans that Chris Williams, the author of Ecology and Socialism, pointed out in an article that I published on climate[incompr.].org is that even some 70 percent Republicans are actually in support, do now understand and believe climate change and do support public policy to address it.
So it’s the politicians in cahoots with the corporations are causing this destructive thing. It has nothing to do with the public. The public, the majority of American public now support climate change, understands climate change, both Republicans and Democrats. It is the politicians from both parties and in bed with the corporations are causing this trouble.
NOOR: Shubhankar Banerjee, thank you so much for joining us.
BANERJEE: Thank you, Jaisal.
NOOR: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.