Last week, President Trump signed two executive orders to restart construction on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines despite months of protests and orders from the former Obama administration to halt the projects.
According to historian Timothy Mitchell, energy infrastructure has been a cornerstone of modern democracy. The author of Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil, argues that before oil became a primary source of energy, workers could organize to block the production and transportation of coal, giving them the leverage to make political demands. With pipelines transporting oil automatically from far-off sources, political organizers lost a powerful tool for democratization.
Mitchell joins us to talk about the role that pipelines play in shaping contemporary social movements, and how a transition to renewable energy might impact popular political engagement.