An Open Letter to US Sen. Michael Bennet
November 18, 2014
Dear Senator Bennet,
I am a rapper with the band Flobots, based here in Colorado. Maybe you have heard of us. We had a song on the radio once.
I am also one of your constituents. Actually, I have even campaigned for you. In 2010 I knocked on doors for you in Park Hill. I even changed my facebook profile to your little blue square logo thingy. It was hard on my rapper/hipster cred but I did it.
This weekend I learned that you plan to vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. You’ll be one of only several Senate Democrats to do so.
If the pipeline is built, it will facilitate the extraction of oil from Canadian tar sands, a move intensely opposed by environmentalists, indigenous peoples, and concerned citizens from around the globe. Climate scientists call the tar sands “the biggest carbon bomb on the planet” and say the tar sands project would mean “game over” for a stable climate.
Um…..are you sure you are on the right side of history on this one?
I don’t think you are. That’s why yesterday I joined with several hundred people in a rally outside your Denver office. Your staff met with us in groups. One by one, we asked the same question: If Sen. Bennet is not a climate denier- why would he vote like one?
Your staff were patient and responsive, but they were not able to provide a coherent answer. If anything, we left even more bewildered by your position. This is not because your staff are bad at their jobs. This is because your position actually makes no sense.
At one point in the midst of our friendly conversations, I asked your staff to take a picture with a sign I was holding. They declined. The sign said simply “Protect our Planet”. Is even this a controversial position for you now?
Senator Bennet, what in the world is going on??
In light of all of this confusion, I put together a list of questions for clarification. I know you are busy, so I made them multiple choice to keep things easy. See below.
I would very much appreciate your timely response. 2016 is just around the corner. If you no longer plan to be an advocate for climate stability, it would be helpful for us to know now so we can start investing in candidates to run against you in the primary.
Jonny 5, Flobots
10 Questions for Senator Michael Bennet
1. Do you agree with the phrase “Protect our Planet”?
2. Do you believe addressing climate change is important?
3. During the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 world leaders agreed we shouldn’t let global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Do you agree with this goal?
4. Climate scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, say we can only allow between 565 and 967 gigatons of Carbon Dioxide to be emitted by 2050 and still have a reasonable hope (80% chance) of staying below 2 degrees.
Do you trust these scientists?
b) No, I have a different understanding of the science
5. Scientists say that the amount of CO2 emitted by burning the fossil fuel reserves currently “on the books” and slated to be burned by Fossil Fuels companies and petro-states is 2795 gigatons. This is way more than the we can allow to be burned. This presents an obvious challenge.
How should we respond to this challenge?
a) Seek to LIMIT carbon emissions while investing in strategies for a just transition to a renewable economy
b) Seek to INCREASE carbon emissions by facilitating new projects with no regard for their environmental impact.
c) We should seek to limit emissions while also supporting projects which increase them
6. The Environmental Impact Study you point to says that the Keystone XL pipeline’s impact will be minimal because even without the pipeline, the tar sands oil might still be extracted and burned.
Do you favor or oppose the extraction of Canadian tar sands oil?
a) Favor. It is the right decision for our children’s future.
b) Oppose. I just think we should let a pipeline be built anyway.
7. Rosebud Sioux President Cyril Scott announced last week that he considered the vote to approve the Keystone Pipeline “an act of war” and threatened to close the borders of the Sioux nation if any attempt to build the pipeline is made.
Do you believe the US government should respect the Sioux nation’s sovereignty in the Black Hills?
8. This election cycle, the Koch-brother funded group “Americans Energy Alliance” put considerable resources into advertisements shaming Sen. Mark Udall for “opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline”.
How much did a fear of being targeted by outside money influence your decision?
a) Strongly influenced
b) Somewhat influenced
c) Not at all. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline is the right decision for our children’s future.
9. Due to the influence of programs such as House of Cards, some people might naively imagine that your vote in this case has less to do with heartfelt principles and more to do with political posturing.
Which best describes what this vote is truly about?
a) I am paying back another colleague for supporting me on another issue in the past which benefitted the people of Colorado
b) I received promises of future political favors which will benefit the people of Colorado.
c) It is not like that. I believe approving the Keystone XL pipeline is the right decision for our children’s future.
10. Do you guys have wi-fi in your office?
I’m gonna come by later and get your answers on all of these. I might try to get some work done in case I have to wait around.