Keystone XL and an ‘outrageous abuse of the law’: My interview with Tavis Smiley


Last week, it was my honor to fly to Los Angeles to sit down for an interview with PBS’ Tavis Smiley for his nationwide late night show, to discuss my new book Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America. It was a fast-moving conversation that touched a lot of ground, including my early cases over radioactive oil pollution, the limitless lobbying clout of Big Oil, and the failure to carry out meaningful reforms in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe five years ago.

Our most lively exchange involved the fate of the much debated Keystone XL pipeline proposal. Here’s an excerpt of what I told him:

I sincerely hope that the president does what he said he was going to do and vetoes the bill. A lot of people don’t really understand this Keystone thing just boils down, to me, an outrageous abuse of a law that was passed to produce oil and gas in the United States after World War II and to build our energy infrastructure. Here we have a foreign corporation that is bring given the right to take people’s land by expropriation in America. And this Canadian company under the law – FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Control law – can go into federal court and has the ability to sue people all the way from Canada to Houston to make them, to let them lay their pipe across their property. That’s allowed under our law, a foreign company coming here and purchasing huge tracts of land in the United States.

Tavis Smiley seemed shocked by some of the things that are happening in the U.S. with Big Oil these days — but people should be shocked. From fracking to offshore drilling to oil trains that go off like bombs, we need to be having a serious national conversation about energy. I’m happy to play a small part in getting that started.

Watch the full clip of my appearance on The Tavis Smiley Show here:

To read more about my battles with Big Oil, check out my book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America:

© Smith Stag, LLC 2015 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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