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Round Up May 8th – May 10th

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.

Wednesday, May 8th:

Society Will Pay Up to $100 Billion Annually for KXL: Oil Change International authored a study on the social costs of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the results aren’t pretty. Between damages to health, property and the environment, the group estimates the pipeline could leave regular people like you and I a bill of $100 billion if not more. Kinda makes you want to ride your bike more, doesn’t it? Read more here.

Let’s Actually Regulate Tarsands Pipelines: BOLD joined a number of Nebraska and Texas landowners as well as a bevy of other groups to push a petition to strengthen tarsands pipelines’ regulations. The National Wildlife Federation-led initiative calls on the EPA to update some very old laws dealing with the hazardous materials transported by the pipelines. This is a big issue because a lot of these pipelines are carrying raw bitumen — a term I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again in the KXL debate, but it’s worth defining: think peanut-butter-like, chunky black goo. Like a really thick deadly milkshake, this stuff takes a lot of power to push through the lines meaning there’s a lot of strain and heat on the machinery. Not to mention is a harm to human health not if but when it escapes, so you’ve gotta make sure this machinery can handle it. For too long, weak regulations have given a free pass to crappy equipment until you get a situation like the Pegasus or Enbridge spills. Let’s really regulate this stuff. Or, we could just not try to suck these tarsands through a metal straw. That’s also cool with us too. Read more about the petition here.

Arkansas DOH tells Exxon’s victims tough cookies: Mayflower, Ark., residents recovering from last month’s infamous spill lost an ally in the Arkansas Department of Health. William Mason, the department’s chief of emergency response said residents who weren’t forced to evacuated should have left if they were that worried the oil would make them sick. While many officials say the toxins residents were exposed to were low enough to not be harmful, the science they’re relying on for those claims is anything but settled. For example, take benzene, which causes all sorts of nasty problems like cancer and, oh yeah, death over long periods of exposure. You can be sure the 210,000 gallons Exxon left in these guys’ back yards contained plenty of that. What it does over the short time, well, we’ll see. After all, it’s not like these folks couldn’t have just left their homes and retreated to one of their condos just like the rest of us, right? Right. Read more here.

Journey Along the KXL’s Proposed Path: Find out what it’s like to leave near where TransCanada wants to put it’s wonderful pipeline in the Globe and Mail’s new series. Reporter Nathan Vanderklippe hangs out with the people who’ll be closest to this thing if it ever gets built. Part journalism, part anthropology, it’s a helpful reminder that there actual peoples’ livelihoods at stake if we lose this fight. Settle in: it’s a mighty beefy read. Check it out here.

Let’s Rap This Climate Change Thing in the Bud: Ever wonder what Russell Simmons is listening to? Answer: environmentalist rap! No, I’m not kidding. And now you can too! Click here to sample a hip hop slam on the KXL Pipeline. It’s what the cool kids do. I mean, not that you should care about any of that.

Artists Take a Stand to Preserve the ‘humanity of the immigrant story’: A collection of over 100 artists from Junot Diaz to Cake have sent a small but powerful note to the President and Congress advocating fair immigration reform. DeVotchka has had enough of the more than one million deportations that have occurred within the last few years. Dave Eggers says bad immigration policy just sucks. We think so too. Thanks friends. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 7th:  

Biden Does Not Dig the Keystone XL Pipeline: During a meeting with supporters, Vice President Joe Biden disclosed to an attendee in private conversation that he is not in favor of TransCanada’s tarsands project. Or so purports BuzzFeed citing an email exchange between the attendee, a Sierra Club member, and another activist. Allegedly, the attendee, “was able to ask Vice President Biden if he supporting [sic] rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.” The response: “He grabbed my Sierra Club hat on my head and said, ‘yes, I do — I share you views — but I am in the minority’ and smiled.” Biden, the shy environmentalist? Reticent is very un-Biden if you ask me, but it sounds like he could use a few BOLD friends. Read more here.

Nearly All of Enbridge’s Pump Stations Are Illegal: The largest oil and gas company in Canada is shirking regulations at 117 of its 125 pump stations. Only eight of them have backup power systems required by the National Energy Board. Of the 125 stations, 83 are missing emergency shut-down buttons. Company officials said they were simply too busy to address the regulations before now. Yet many of the rules are between 12 and 14 years old. Oops. Read more here.

Wall Street Deregulation Advancing in House: Citing a vulnerable U.S. economy that simply can’t take any more regulation, a bipartisan committee is advancing a bevy of initiatives that would negate a lot financial regulation. Separate bills that would repeal a lot of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act once again allow for sketchy actions like tax evasion and free-for-all international trading much like what occurred in the lead up to The Great Recession. It doesn’t look like these will make it anywhere past the Senate and the President’s opposition, but it’s a little frightening that there’s an appetite to make it easier for banks to once more perform the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am of 2008. Read the Huffington Post’s coverage here.

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