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.
KXL Will Yield No Local Jobs: Of the roughly 4,000 construction jobs that the Keystone XL pipeline will create during its two-year building phase, 90 percent of them will go to workers outside of Nebraska and other states into which the pipeline will be interred. And most of these workers would come with their own facilities and amenities, so there’s little chance they’ll be visiting whatever small town they’re camped next to. Read more of Bloomberg’s report here.
Southern Keystone Leg Has 200,000 Barrels Of Daily Promised Crude: The Texas appeals court’s decision against Julia Trigg Crawford — who is taking her fight against TransCanada’s use of eminent domain to the state supreme court — is a lengthy and in depth look into the background of this lawsuit. Among the Keystone details revealed in the court’s decision is a statement from TransCanada showing they have a daily flow of 200,000 barrels of crude petroleum already promised and waiting to go into this mostly complete pipeline. These guys never expected a legal challenge to stop them, and still don’t as Crawford moves the legal battle to the state’s high court. Read more here.
Wind Turbines Do Not Reduce Your Property Values: Say it again with me. Wind turbines will not make your home values plummet, good people of Nebraska. A comprehensive study of property valuations and turbine construction dispels this popular myth. So, no worry for the folks close to Steele City who are seeing their view get a little more exotic with all those new wind turbines. Read more here.
KXL Investigation Pushed to 2014: We spoke. They heard us. The State Department Inspector General announced Friday it will publish results of an investigation into alleged conflicts of interest in the Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental review. You’ll remember that the State Department’s contractor, Environmental Resources Management Inc., said cutting a huge pipeline across the U.S. is environmentally A-OK. Your shock is understandable, dear reader. But this is also the same outfit that’s worked closely with big tobacco and is a dues-paying member of an oil and gas alliance as well as a former business partner with TransCanada. Woah! Brakes here, please. Everyone off the bus while the inspector general sorts this sheeze out. They’ll release a report in ’14, yet another delay — as well as a possible sign Obama may nix the damn thing anyway — in building a pipeline connecting Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, which BTW has a bunch of nice, shiny, new wind mills as of this weekend.
Nice Turnout At Pipeline Training: About 50 county reps showed up for training in York for how to protect their land from pipelines. BOLD officials and others walked the audience through what can be done to manage the risks of a pipeline coming through your county. While whether or not to build is definitely a federal decision, but deciding what lands are suitable for pipeline use and what existing infrastructure protections can be enforced are still within your rights as a county. Marion County, Kan., County Commissioner Dan Holub spoke on his experience working with the Keystone 1 pipeline. “Get all agreements in writing. TransCanada has a bad memory,” he said. Read more about the meeting here.
Al Jazeera America’s First Day Of Broadcasting Spends A Half Hour With Climate Change: Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking. “30 bloody minutes huffing about climate change? I do that on my commute! For free!” Consider this, outraged reader: that’s about half of all combined climate coverage from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in all of 2012. Here’s how climate change’s debut on the brand new major network read: “[F]or more than 20 years, 97 percent of scientific research has said climate change ishappening, and that it is indeed caused by people. But despite the scientific evidence, American’s remain divided on the issue.” Fair! Balanced! Can AJ America change how climate change is covered on TV where we’re making a big deal about 30 freaking minutes of airtime? Grist seems to think so.
44 Wind Turbines Going Up In Steele City Area: While the Keystone XL Pipeline linking Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City remains in limbo, the southern Nebraska city is getting a slate of new wind turbines over the weekend. NextEra Energy Resources is installing 36 turbines with more to come in a $138 million project that will generate 75 megawatts when done — power for about 19,000 homes. Between 120 and 130 employees are working on the project, about half from the area. Five will hang on for permanent full-time positions. Read more here.
Omaha Sen. Stands With Obamacare: State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist had some tough words for the Affordable Care Act’s critics in a recent interview with the Lincoln Journal Star. “Certainly, there are issues with the law that need to be addressed,” he said. “But too many people are grandstanding now. They need to get off their soapbox and sit down with their colleagues and resolve those issues. This is not a political debate anymore; it’s the law.” Wow. Norquist went on citing the 40,000 Nebraskans who have received rebates from their insurance companies that failed to meet the new law’s mandate that at least 80 percent of their premium dollars be devoted to health care costs. This on the heels of Sen. Deb Fischer’s vow to hold up the federal budget if the law remains unchanged. Read more of Nordquist’s interview here.
The Birth Of The 51st State May Hinge On Water: So you may have heard about 10 counties in rural northeast Colorado aiming to start a new state. While the move has strong support from the residents of Colorado, the success of the measure depends on how the largely agriculture based economies there broker a deal to get water from the cities that source it to them. Read more here.
Department of Int. Calls KXL Environmental Review “Inaccurate”: Wow. That makes two major governmental agencies criticizing the Keystone XL pipeline. The 12-page letter is currently up for your perusal, and warns the effects of harvesting the oil sands may have irrevocable consequences on wildlife. This goes against the State Department’s draft environmental statement, which holds that the effects would be temporary and limited mainly to the construction phase. The DOI warns of “loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation, species displacement, barrier effect, etc,” and says anyone making the claim that permanent effects are not expected is making an inaccurate claim.
These 7 Adorable Animals Are Threatened By KXL: The endangered — and super cute — Least Tern would nest just 40 miles downstream from where the pipeline would cross the Niobrara River. They are one of seven animal species named in the infamous Interior Department letter that calls the State Department’s Keystone XL assessment “inaccurate” adding it “should be revised. Grist is running on a feature on what animals would be endangered here, a list that includes the Black-footed Ferret and the elegant Sandhill Crane.
Get PIST With Grist: Grist is running a fundraiser to continue their excellent climate coverage. Join this thunderclap here.
Local Chef Vies For Lautenbaugh’s Seat: Joe Vaughn, a cook by trade, has decided to pursue the heat of another kitchen, the Unicameral. “In every election there are lawyers, career politicians, and wealthy individuals running for office that are excessively out of touch with the lives and struggles of the working class in Nebraska. In light of this vast divide, how could they honestly represent the public effectively?” he said in a press release announcing his candidacy. Among his most important issues are the influence of money in politics and supporting Nebraska teachers. Yes and yes. Kick the tires at his website here.
All Eyes On U.S. As KXL Decision Looms: Because the United States holds so much clout in global affairs — and due in no small part to our regrettable honor being the world’s number two carbon polluter — a lot of people are looking for us to stake a position on climate change through a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, Inside Climate News finds. They surveyed a bunch of people from around the world — scientists, teacher, political advisors — and found most don’t want this thing going through citing long term consequences outside of the KXL itself. It could set a precedent having one of the richest nations in the world continue doing what is effectively business as usual on climate change; by that same token, it could be a beacon of solidarity, a common flag if Obama were to reject it. Read more here.
Oil, Gas Prices Tanking: The money tree that is fracking may be drying up. The oil and gas products that they extract have lost half their value in a year. How in the hell did this happen? Grist explains underproducing wells, an over saturated market and perhaps an overvaluation of oil and gas are all likely suspects. The boom has bummed. Read more here.
Your Concerns About The KXL Just Won You A Place In The ‘Radical Left’ Category: If you are a pipeline opponent, you are now not only a terrorist but also one of the “blind leftwing ideologues” gumming up the works, according to some loving words from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. He delivered a speech that apparently will “completely destroy the argument of the radical left in America” who oppose the pipeline, Jindal called opponents elitists who oppose all forms of traditional energy production, explicitly favor higher energy prices and sometimes eat their young (kidding). Jindal, a two term governor who for some damn reason is a serious contender for a future presidential race, said the Democrats are “holding America hostage to their extremist and unscientific view.” El-oh-EL. Seriously, what clown car did this guy just step out of?
Bright Future For Solar: Mother Jones is running a very interesting article projecting a not-too-distant future in which solar power is not only as cheap as traditional energy sources, but cheaper. They’re encouraged by the explosive growth — solar installations have doubled in the last 2.5 years and will double again in the same time — and the declining costs for photovoltaics. “The race is on: somebody, somewhere, is soon going to deliver grid parity with clarity that silences all critics,” the a Telegraph report quoted reads. “Then we can all forget about subsidies for solar, and tax it instead, a future cash cow.” Dude, how can anyone live in 2013 and not be an optimist? Read more here.
LOOK AT THIS: Recently graduated architect Hank Buttita bought a bus and turned it a friggin’ house. Super handsome wood interior — made from reclaimed boards that were once on a gym floor, just so you know — and kitchen, bathroom and beds all included. They’re touring the sweet digs currently, but you can check out a video tour here.