Whom do you serve? A question for local government

A question asked about big oil and Mobile is just as relevant to every local and state government along the proposed Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, and Transco and Florida Southeast Connection, too. A couple of local elected officials and several candidates did make public statements Saturday (stay tuned), so maybe we’re starting to get some answers to this question in Lowndes County, Georgia. Some other locations have already been getting answers.

Brad Nolen wrote for New American Journal 28 March 2014, How Big Oil Controls Local Governments: Whom Do You Serve? Thoughts on Local Government and Dirty Industries,

Now, it should go without saying that the purpose of councils, commissions and public office in general is to represent the varied interests of the citizens, and hopefully through consensus- seeking achieve some semblance of collective wisdom; and then, if we’re really lucky to apply said wisdom in charting our course toward a Mobile our great grandchildren will be proud to inherit.

Yet, when it came to finding a voice to protect our drinking water from Big Oil, we heard nothing substantive from our local leaders, even though we marched on their doorsteps in boots that are still wet with BP oil.

And now, when Big Coal comes into our lovely town in need of a place to store dusty mounds of coal coke, where do they want to set up shop? Nowhere other than the banks of our river, and the shores of our bay! Why, on the very doorsteps of our city!

And in a county that accepts Superfund wastewater, coal ash, and PCBs into its landfill and then makes an exclusive contract with that landfill operator, sues a local business about it, and even appeals, is it any wonder that a toxic methane pipeline company would want to go through that county?

And Big Coal knows very well how to handle our local council “representatives.” And it can easily tickle the business-friendly ribs of appointed commissioners to get its way. Like the oil that will soon to flow through our water source, the piles of blue creek coal look like a done deal.

But of course lots of things have been done deals, like the San Onofre nuclear plant restarting, until some local school boards and city councils and the state PUC and a few U.S. Representatives complained. And in Lowndes County, Georgia, a biomass plant and a private prison were done deals, until they weren’t.

The habit of local career-politicians failing to truly serve the citizens that hired them has become so commonplace as to look like business-as-usual.

Though we may have the structure of representative governance, it is clear that, represent us, they do not.

Sometimes local governments try, as in Colquitt County, where the Commission passed a resolution for minimum pipeline depth and the county attorney stood up and reminded FERC, causing FERC to admit that FERC had itself required minimum pipeline depths in other states.

Previously speaking against the pipeline:

There’s an election going on in Lowndes County, Georgia. Remember who brought us toxic industry and toxic wastes. Remember who repeatedly stood up against that.

Anywhere you are, especially anywhere in Georgia, Alabama, or Florida along the proposed path of the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline or its triplets Transco’s Hillabee Extension Project or Florida Southeast Connection, this advice from Mobile is just as good there:

Call your local politicians, visit a City Council or Planning and Zoning meeting, and above all remind them who hired them and pays their salaries.

Call to oppose oil pipelines through your water source, call to oppose tank farms and piles of coal on your shores, and while you have your local representatives’ attention, ask them, whom do they serve?

Whom do you serve? A trash company’s investors from New York City? A fracked methane pipeline company from Houston? Or your own citizens?