Read today’s news from around the state and country. Each day in the Roundup we cover politics, always with a side of bold humor. We think politics should be fun, informative and encourage us all to take action.
Thursday, March 7th
Today’s Roundup is authored by Contributor Carolyn Nolte
Dystopian News: Why has ExxonMobil just announced a new 5-year capital-spending plan to begin shelling out $38 billion per year? This is how they are dealing with output declines that are nearly double what they had predicted and dropped profitability of each barrel they produce. Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson said, “I never would have dreamed we’d be spending at these levels,” illustrating a reality that the oil industry will continue to face as world demand continues to rise and they are forced to take more and more desperate measures. Exxon (which is currently working to be “engaged throughout all of Iraq) is also highly dependent upon approval of the KXL. Asked what the company would do if the KXL is not approved by the State Department, Tillerson said, “it would be difficult.” Moves like these indicate that we need to move forward and develop on the commercial scale alternatives to oil. I was thinking of sending Tillerson signed, first editions of Richard Heinberg’sThe Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, but the Giant may be deaf. If you are interested in meeting Tillerson, Charlie Rose is interviewing him tonight, Thursday, March 7 on PBS. Read More about the Exxon spending program here
Archiving Exxon Valdez Records Raise Concern: Alaska has spent more than $1 million storing litigation files, according to a project focused on archiving records of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The project “allows archivists to determine which records have permanent value and should be saved for research and review, and which no longer need to be kept. The file is currently up to 8 million pages long, and the archivers note “storing and managing files was and continues to be a significant cost to the People and State of Alaska.” When Exxon and the Justice Department came to a plea agreement for $100 million, Judge Holland, the original Judge to the 1991 claim, boldly “rejected a plea agreement…saying [at that time] the $100 million criminal fine…was too small” (Hevesi, 25 April 1991, New York Times). The $900 million settlement and consent decree that resolved the 1991 claim includes a “reopener” clause, meaning the government could seek additional moneys for restoration projects. Holland, who in a recent letter regarding the archiving project “expressed concern it [the project] could inadvertently affect ongoing dispute[s]” in the Valdez case, was sent in the interest of the settlement’s reopener clause. According to JuneauEmpire.com, the attorney general’s office assured Holland that records will not be destroyed without his consent and that none have yet been destroyed. Read here
Bold Independent Media Value: Good news announced today: Mother Jones the non-profit news magazine receives the Izzy Award for Special Achievement in Independent Media. Right on! The award, named after the maverick journalist I.F. Stone, honors Mother Jones for publishing “major, timely stories and investigations throughout 2012 that had significant public impact” (Ithaca College). Mother Jones has been a strong watchdog breaking national stories like David Corn’s September’s 2012 discovery of Mitt Romney “describing 47% of the electorate as people as people ‘who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims’” ( Ithaca College). According to DemocracyNow.org, Romney partially blames that video for his loss. In addition to Corn’s reporting, senior editor Mark Follman and a reporting team “compiled the definitive (and interactive) database on U.S. mass shootings over the last 30 years — with supplementary articles exploring mental illness issues and NRA-backed state laws furthering gun proliferation” (Ithaca College) “In a competitive field this year, the judges were bowled over by Mother Jones and its accessible reporting on tough issues, with journalism that affected and informed national debates,” said Jeff Cohen, Park Center Independent Media (PCIM) director Jeff Cohen. Mother Jones is the award’s fourth recipient continuing a tradition of valuing and recognizing independent news sources. Read Ithaca College’s article here, or Watch Democracy Now’s coverage of the award here
Tuesday, March 5th
Unwilling to Take Responsibility: It looks like Enbridge has reached its limit on how much the company is willing to pay for its mistakes. As you probably recall, back in 2010 Enbridge was responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the United States history. And it wasn’t just oil, it was dilbit derived from the tar sands—this unmentioned fact about the nature of what was flowing through Enbridge’s pipeline led to spill response teams with no clue of what they were dealing with, and a clean-up process that is still going strong three years later. Enbridge has already reimbursed the Fish and Wildlife Service for $520,814 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with $165,278 (however it still owes NOAA another $176,528). But Enbridge has not reimbursed all of those who are cleaning up the company’s mess and who have been affected by the release of carcinogenic chemicals and the world’s dirtiest oil into their water. Enbridge owes money to tribal groups, and is currently “refusing to pay $800,000 to complete two new studies to assess the spill’s damage” on the Kalamazoo River. The company sent a letter to the trustees of the National Resource Damage Assessment saying it was “declining to participate.” Read here
Needing Climate Action: Yesterday President Obama fulfilled the prophesy on who he would nominate to fill the nation’s top two positions when it comes to addressing climate change and other environmental issues. He nominated Gina McCarthy for the spot of EPA administrator and Ernest Moniz for the Department of Energy. The NYT wrote an editorial on the President’s selections, with the main point being that they will be doing the heavy lifting in a political environment where Congress is unlikely to pass any major climate change legislation soon. The NYT focused on the need for the President to push them to success on drastically cutting carbon emissions in order for the President to make good on his pledge to “reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.” We would like to add that the President is going to need us at his back making it clear that this is what we want. We want a clean, healthy future for our country and planet. We need him to start with denying the KXL and not stop until we have made real progress on clean energy and energy efficiency. Read here
Big Time Climate Action: The previous post is put in greater urgency when considering that U.S. scientists just reported that the world’s amount of CO2 emissions jumped dramatically in 2012. This is largely due to the increase in emissions coming from China and other developing countries, according to the scientists reporting the bad news, and while the U.S.’s emissions went down in 2012, we are still #2 in the world. The new readings on carbon emissions in 2012 dampen the hopes that we will be able to stay under a 2° C increase in worldwide temperature, which according to Michael Mann of Penn. State and other climate scientists, means we will experience the “more harmful effects of climate change sooner.” It’s time for action, we’ve already waited too long. Read here
Omaha has been ranked #2 in the world by an MTV music website for “most up-and-coming music city”, Lincoln has been named the “happiest city in the U.S.,” beating out “188 other metropolitan areas in the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,” and Bold Nebraska earned the spot of best Nebraska political blog. We’re on a roll here in Nebraska, folks.