THE BLOG
12/06/2013 09:41 am ET | Updated Feb 05, 2014

Sit Down, Mr. Donohue

Thomas Donohue, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce President, needs to sit down and be quiet.

On December 3, Donohue said that an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, slated to come out in early 2014, could enforce new standards for drilling techniques in the U.S. output of oil and natural gas.

As the Huffington Post reported, Donohue said the Obama administration is: "Costing jobs and growth in our country," going even so far as saying the rules were hurting the economy and "undermining freedom."

But it seems Thomas Donohue is not interested in the true meaning of economy, because if he were, he would know that economy actually means the care of the household.

As the Washington Post reports, Donohue speaks for more than three million companies:

The blunt-talking Donohue has been point man in marshalling aggressive opposition to President Obama's top priorities: health-care reform, climate-change legislation and a bid to make it easier to unionize through the Employee Free Choice Act. In Obama's first year, the chamber launched a major campaign that helped defeat the bill's key pro-union provision.

Fracking, and large companies that promote it, like Halliburton and Enbridge, do not care about individual households either -- they care about the bottom line.

Driving across North Dakota in November, my nose was hit with the tang of propane and sulfur. What happens to the family or the town that starts inhaling propane due to unregulated fracking? What happens to the people whose aquifers are drained in the process of fracking?

I'm curious about Donohue's accusation that the EPA's report would undermine freedoms. What freedoms? It seems that the EPA's report could enforce certain freedoms, like the guarantee of clean drinking water, clean air and the elimination of flaring natural gas, which sends numerous chemicals into the air.

Maybe Donohue means that the EPA's study would undermine the freedoms of corporations, which, it seems, Donohue has a large interest in representing. After all, Donohue reports that at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "We have to raise $5 million a week to run this place."

Donohue's remarks, and our own remarks in this country about green technology development, take pressure away from what should be the focus of our conversations: large oil corporations. Instead of worrying about eliminating jobs in the coal and oil industry, we should look for ways to create more and better paying jobs in renewable energies.

In our daily discussions we could better understand that supporting large oil corporations means sacrificing our political freedoms. We could understand that when we don't speak up when Tesoro spills 865,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota, or Enbridge leaks over a million gallons of tar into the Kalamazoo River, we are choosing environmental destruction over environmental protection.

Convenience is one of America's top values. As Jim Farrell says:

Convenience is a way of saving time by spending money, and we do it all the time. It's a way of getting someone else to do our work for us. Often, that someone else is a multinational corporation with international supply lines maintained by fossil fuels.  When we choose convenience, therefore, we generally elect the social (and environmental) values of corporate America. We opt for industrial agriculture (with its immense environmental impacts, including erosion of the topsoil that supports life on earth). We opt for time-saving devices cheaply made in China (with environmental impacts all along the supply chain).  We opt for cars instead of time-consuming public transit. Without intending to, we generally opt to use more natural resources minimize our time. Saving time, therefore, does little to save the planet, and all of our conveniences add up to one big 'inconvenient truth.'

In our listening to news and perusal of the media, we might take time to read between the lines. As a substitute for quick-thinking, we might practice reflection and understand that if we want a better market we'll need to shop for a better deal, and that might mean putting out money elsewhere. In a time where our freedoms are undermined and under assault, we might find that it's a convenient time to practice sustainable thinking, which would mean creating more and using less.