Natural Gas NOW
The Constitution Pipeline rejection by corrupt Andrew Cuomo must be the beginning of a new approach by pipeline companies unaccustomed to pipeline politics.
My frustrations with Andrew Cuomo’s decision on the Constitution Pipeline are as deep as anyone’s, but pardon me if I don’t act surprised. Upstate New Yorkers learned the hard way the man was deeply corrupt and not to be trusted. They already knew the sting of betrayal from his fracking ban and the way it was done. They were smart enough to realize the fix was in years earlier when Cuomo put three senior NRDC attorneys on his fracking advisory committee, not to mention Joe Martens and all those other NRDC allies. Unfortunately, con men adept as Cuomo are always able to deceive again and again, which is what happened with the Constitution Pipeline.
Williams played along as if New York’s bureaucracy’s was like any other state’s; cooperate, follow the rules, give them political cover to do the right thing and all it would be fine. They didn’t understand the pipeline politics of a corrupt State of New York. Like the folks behind Port Ambrose who thought they could appease a governor in debt to the NRDC gang with some token references to being the alternative to fracking, they didn’t appreciate the relationship between radicals, a compromised press and deep-pocketed special interests that makes New York so corrupt. They thought rallies and demonstrations of public need and support would get the job done, but that’s yesterday’s politics. Today’s are much more corrupt and much more vicious, as evidenced by the whole “ExxonKnew” scandal that grew out of the La Jolla Junta conference in 2012.
Whining about the problem, though, isn’t going to get us anywhere. We know the press is hopelessly compromised and/or incompetent, we know we’re dealing in New York with a slime-ball governor and we know the names of the special interests who are the enemy. These are neither things that need to be rehashed here, nor items likely to attract much public sympathy with an urban population thinking their energy comes from the thermostat. It’s time to engage directly in the pipeline politics that yields decisions such as the atrocious one made in this instance.
And, by pipeline politics, I don’t mean more rallies, more public meetings, more endorsements, more speeches, more letter-writing or more of any of the conventional tools of politics. Those things play into the hands of the special interests (an unholy alliance of elitist power-makers, radical enviros and trial lawyers) engaged in an entirely different game. No, what I’m talking about is going on the offensive, acting like the gorilla for a change. Or, is the guerrilla?
What does this entail? Well, let me suggest five specific things:
- Investigative reports and RICO lawsuits exposing the networks of relationships among these special interests with press conferences and hard-hitting exposes that cannot be ignored by a press otherwise largely sympathetic to supposedly “green” causes serving as their cover.
- An intense social media campaign that engages ordinary citizens on platforms actually commanding attention these days. (Pipeline companies are light years behind on this score and, sad to say, most of the ordinary folks who support energy development refuse to participate in these forms of communication, viewing them as just so much meaningless glitter, but they must and companies need to take the lead in showing how). There’s no hope for changing biased media such as the New York Times; one must instead go over their heads and around them. It’s the only way.
- Challenging the tax-exemptions of the multitude of fractivist non-profits and their private foundation financial sponsors who are hiding behind IRS designations as charities and horribly abusing the rules.
- Encouraging the creation of numerous local support groups who will attend meetings, engage in protests and sponsor highly publicized petitions demanding action by state and local officials. While the opposition has mastered this technique and operates very effectively as a community of loosely connected guerrilla groups, our side tends to do the reverse with a top-down approach and politically correct softball messaging that doesn’t get the job done.
- Turning the tables on fractivists and pipeline opponents by protesting them. It takes no special training or help. The supporters are there to make it happen and they don’t even need motivation. It requires only pipeline companies get out of the way and refocus their own efforts away from useless demonstrations of conventional political support toward providing detailed public information about their projects that supporters can marshall for use in their own campaigns. Frankly, as a pipeline supporter, I’ve found pipeline websites to be among the worst imaginable in conveying needed information. They tend to be long on politically correct PR messaging approved by the legal department and woefully short on details. Their websites should provide ever possible detail on the projects themselves, the benefits, the nature of approvals needed, whom to write to express opinions and easy access to FERC dockets, so friends can see who the enemies are and what they’re saying and doing, so it countered. No ask is required; just the access to the information.
None of these are being done effectively today by most pipeline companies. This cannot continue. Pipeline companies and natural gas supporters (and there are more of us than them) need to be engaged in the new pipeline politics.