Bold Roundup: Nov 14-18

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LB4, which would have TransCanada’s proposed new route undergo a state EIS process, was pushed to the final legislative step today. We will still be scrutinizing the process, but see positive results coming from both LB4 and LB1. Both bills will have a final vote on Tuesday morning. We expect them to go straight to the Governor. Here’s your Roundup: 

Nebraska Citizens’ Victories: InsideClimateNews has a great in-depth piece on Nebraska pipeline fighters and the place they call home–the Sandhills. Nebraskans have been chipping away at the Keystone XL pipeline and have achieved a couple significant victories in the past few days. But the fight isn’t over for most Nebraskans who will remain vigilant during our state’s environmental review process and the next legislative session to ensure enough protections are in place so that our land, water, businesses, and families will be sustained. Read here 

Snaps from Nelson: Senator Nelson commends the Nebraska Legislature on their work to take the KXL out of the Sandhills and create a process for siting future oil pipelines in our state. Nelson’s work the past couple of years to get Nebraskans’ voices heard has complemented the extensive grassroots effort of Nebraska citizens and helped these victories in happening. Read here 

Protecting the Vote: While costly voter ID laws are being passed in other states, Nebraska municipalities are refusing to pass legislation that would disenfranchise citizens and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. We consider the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimous vote of opposition to LB 239–legislation that would require valid, state-issued photo identification to vote–a victory for Nebraska common sense. Read here

O!ccupy: Occupy Omaha has been missing in action since November 3rd when police broke up the group’s 24th and Farnam campsite and arrested three people. But the occupiers filed a claim against Mayor Suttle, Attorney General Bruning, and police chief Alex Hayes that argues the arrests were unconstitutional. A hearing on the occupiers’ request for a temporary restraining order against the three public officials is scheduled for Tuesday. Read here

Back to Tahrir: Egyptians are back in Tahrir Square protesting the military’s attempt to hold onto power as the people attempt to draft a new constitution. Islamists are quickly becoming the major constituency of the protests though liberal activists originally called for demonstrations. Read here

 

Thursday, November 17th

Call your senator this morning to tell them we need an amendment on Dubas’s bill that protect the SandHills and that the state-based Environmental Impact study needs to be impartial and thorough. We don’t want back door deals brokered by TransCanada. We want our state senators to represent us, not oil companies. Here’s your Roundup:

Almost Unbelievable: According to Alex Pourbaix, president of TransCanada’s pipeline division, TransCanada is ready to start construction on the segment of the pipeline that runs from Cushing to the Gulf at the start of the new year. Although you’d expect that they won’t be able to start construction on that segment given that the project has been delayed a year, Pourbaix states they will be “looking at the regulatory side of it…at the worst, we would require the permission of the State Department to proceed on that … but we think that is something that is definitely doable.” This company obviously doesn’t take the Obama administration’s concerns seriously, and instead think they can just waltz in and easily do whatever they want. Read here  

We Don’t Trust TransCanada: South Dakota has realized TransCanada has only paid about a third of the amount of property taxes that they had said the state would receive from the first Keystone pipeline. Citizens are disappointed by the income they have received off of the Keystone I, but South Dakota Representative Bernie Hunhoff says TransCanada isn’t necessarily to blame for this disappointment. It’s the “politicians who allowed it” who are accountable. This is yet another lesson, learned from experience, proving TransCanada will inflate any number to make citizens believe their pipeline is a good idea. However, it is up to our legislators to take responsibility for the best interest of our state. Read here 

OWS’s Big Day: Today, the Occupiers are staging a daring protest at the New York Stock Exchange. Their plan is to shut it down and prevent the morning bell from going off. Experts in non-violent protests gave training sessions given some of the actions that have happened at OWS in the past couple of months and the recent eviction of Zuccotti Park. This protest has been in the works for weeks, and we will be watching to see how the day unfolds. Read here 

Foreign Policy: President Obama’s been hard at work furthering the U.S.’s foreign policy agenda. He declared yesterday 2,500 Marines would be sent to Australia to “shore up alliances in Asia,” and this week, he will be the first American president to participate in the East Asia Summit meeting to further discuss trade agreements with the region. China is worried this is a sign of aggression on the part of the U.S., but Obama promises the moves are only to further the U.S.’s presence as a state on the Pacific. Read here 

No Lingering Doubt: If there was any doubt that many of those sitting in Congress struggle to make decisions that will positively impact the lives of the American people, it has been severely diminished. On Tuesday, Congress decided that pizza counts as a vegetable for the use in school lunches. Read here

 

Wednesday, November 16th

We continue to keep a careful watch on the Unicameral to make sure that a strong, responsible bill is passed that protects Nebraska. We thank you for all that you’ve done and ask that you help us keep pushing to the end of special session. Here’s your Roundup:

Not So Fast: Just because Nebraska and TransCanada appear to have struck a deal, does not mean the Keystone XL project will be expedited. The State Department released a statement indicating that a final decision will still not likely occur before 2013. No matter what Nebraska decides, a presidential permit is still necessary for the pipeline to cross the border. We agree that there should not be a rush. While an environmental assessment by Nebraska is necessary, the State Department owes it to the country to provide another environmental impact statement that is not tainted by the involvement of TransCanada affiliates. Read here

Footing the Bill: While we support an independent environmental assessment by Nebraska, we can’t help but wonder why Nebraska is footing the $2 million dollar bill. TransCanada is the corporation that wishes to pass their pipeline through our state. Nebraska, if our leaders had wished, could have directed the study and chose the analysts not associated with TransCanada and still had them pay for the study. Speaker Flood has said he didn’t want it to appear TransCanada was buying its way into the state, but isn’t that what they’ve been doing with all their pro-pipeline ads? Read here

No Respect: A shameful display of disrespect by the Romney campaign occurred at a rally recently. Navy veteran Melissa Harmon was kicked out of a rally for wearing a shirt criticizing Romney’s plan to privatize VA benefits. We can critique this plan because Romeny’s horrible agenda for VA benefits has obvious faults, but the real problem is with his staff not allowing a simple shirt to be displayed at a rally. Apparently Mittens believes corporations are people and deserve first amendment rights, but people aren’t actually people. Read here

Not Adding Up: Well, Newt Gingrich’s story that is. The numbers are actually adding up quite extraordinary. Newt Gingrich received between $1.6-1.8 million from Freddie Mac and that seems a little much for the “historian” Newt claimed to be. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are constantly attacked by Republican candidates, including Gingrich. It appears Newt only likes the institution in private, when he can rake in a hefty paycheck. Publicly he is quite fine catering to the GOP base. Read here

Evicted: A judge has upheld the eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park. This presents an interesting challenge for the leading protest of the greater movement that has spread globally. As the world watches, OWS protesters have begun a search to re-locate themselves. Might we suggest occupying the polls? Read here

Also, a happy belated birthday to our board member Emily Schlichting!

 

Tuesday, November 15th

Despite TransCanada’s decision to voluntarily re-route the KXL, laws governing oil pipelines are still not on the books in Nebraska. The special session is underway to do this, and we still need citizens at the Capitol this week to support the legislature creating laws that will protect our land, water, and citizens. Here’s your Roundup:

Not Over ‘Til It’s Over: We had a big win yesterday with TransCanada finally agreeing to move the route of their pipeline out of the SandHills, but we can’t forget about past transgressions. Dr. Hayden, UNL economist, released his detailed study on the massive conflicts of interest that have tainted the process, especially economic conflicts and conflicts of law. These behind-the-scenes issues “invalidate the whole process,” says Dr. Hayden. It’s not time to sit back on our heels. Read here

Contaminated Aquifer: The EPA has released new water testing results on an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyoming, where residents have long complained about the quality of their water declining since fracking was introduced to the area. Cancer causing agents such as benzene and phenols have been found in extremely high levels in the water, as well as methane gas that links the contamination to the process of extracting the natural gas. However, the EPA has been careful to not to directly identify fracking as the cause for the contamination due to the controversy around the issue. Read here

Occupiers Ousted: Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy Movement, has been cleared of protesters. In a decision by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police officers cleared the park and reportedly arrested 180-190 people on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Bloomberg argued the reason for the eviction was that the conditions in the park were becoming hazardous, and it was no longer open to the public which it is meant to serve. This move, however, will likely only galvanize the movement, as a young protester stated the morning’s sweep “reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying.” Read here

Looking at the Health Care Law: The Supreme court agreed to hear an injunction filed by 26 states (including Nebraska) that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. The court also decided to look at two more issues linked with it: the law’s mandatory Medicaid expansion and whether or not the court can actually rule on the health care law until after the consumer tax penalties are paid in 2015 by those who have not purchased health care insurance. While it has long been expected that the SCOTUS would take up the issue of the individual mandate, this broader look and time devoted to the task was rather unexpected. Read here

Final Loss of Faith: A Penn State graduate reflects on being the product of Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation, and his lost faith in his parent’s generation. Read here

 

Monday, November 14th

A Nebraska win and the beautiful weather make it easy to ride the wave of hope from the Obama administration’s decision to delay the pipeline. We thank you all for your efforts, and we must continue the pressure on our state senators to take action to protect Nebraska and the Sandhills both now and in the future. Here’s your Roundup:

 Starting Somewhere: If there’s one thing we have learned from the fight against TransCanada’s KXL, it’s that you’ve got to believe when no one else will. Small passionate action in Nebraska translated to a nationwide movement. The people of Missoula, Montana are doing just that as a recent vote overwhelmingly passed a referendum stating that corporations are not people. Missoula voters are continuing a small trend that is growing throughout American cities calling for the reversal of the landmark Supreme Court case, Citizens United. Read here

Quick to Start: We keep wondering why so much work has begun and money committed to a project that was never legally approved. TransCanada arrogantly began initial phases of construction of the KXL pipeline, and we have no doubt they pressured NPPD to begin construction on projects to provide electricity to pumping stations. Luckily, a great deal of work hasn’t been done by NPPD, but a great deal of money has been spent, totally over $7 million thus far. However, should the project be re-routed or stopped, TransCanada will have to pay these costs. Another thorn in their side for acting too quickly. Read here

Not Worth It: Paul Hammel’s in-depth look into the tar sands mine of Canada offers a pretty clear picture of the industry. Despite the best intentions of fixing the destruction that tar sands producers cause to Canada’s northern forest, it’s impossible to keep up with the rate at which this environment is being ruined. It’s currently taking 40-45 years to reclaim an area, and it’s unrealistic to believe that the toxic tailing ponds and disturbed ground can be feasibly returned to their pre-oil mining state. When an industry like this becomes viable because of rising crude costs, it is time to look at other greener, renewable energy sources. Read here

The Outside Two: Almost the entire field of Republican presidential candidates pledged to begin reusing waterboarding if they took the White House. Only Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul were willing to stand on the debate stage and disagree. President Obama called out those candidates who supported the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. Re-allowing this torture would do nothing but lower America in the eyes of the world and limit our commitment to human rights. Comedy Central takes a humorous approach to Hunstman and Paul’s more sane approach here. Obama’s rebuke here.

Hat Tip to the Boss: As we alluded to earlier, the protection of the Sandhills seemed like a lost cause earlier this year. But it became a nationally rally cry for Americans looking to Obama to uphold his campaign promises. We like to give some of the credit for this momentum to our Executive Director, Jane Kleeb. Read a little more about Bold’s fearless leader: Part I and Part II

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