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.
Both Of Nebraska’s Nuclear Reactors Ready To Retire: Analysis by the Vermont School of Law shows both the state’s nuclear reactors — NPPD’s Cooper Nuclear Station and OPPD’s Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Generation Station, which suspended operation last year — along with a group of 38 other reactors just gotta go. The report measures the plants against 11 risk factors investors look into when sinking their money into one of these things. The plants that made the list have at least four, and OPPD’s reactor has a pretty identical risk quotient to the Kewaunee,Wis., plant recently shut down. Read a report about the report, as well as the actual report, here.
OPPD ‘Lost Credibility’ With Ft. Calhoun Shutdown: Omaha Public Power District’s investors haven’t been able to participate in one of the better years for electric utility bonds. This is largely because their broken nuclear station is, a, not generating the power they need to keep rates lower and, b, needing $143 million in fixes to get it up to Nuclear Regulatory Commission standards. That on top of the continuous delays in restarting after their June 2011 shut down is causing, frankly, a lot of pissed off attitudes in the investor and regulatory community. “They are not ready — they have a lot of work to be done,” said an NRC regulator. “They’ve lost credibility in the community.” Ouch. Read more of the market analysis here.
The End Of Glowing Green Power: A prescient essay by Truthout predicted nuclear power would come to some difficult times. Citing issues with water consumption, risks due to unanticipated flooding and thermal pollution, an op-ed published just after POTUS’ second term concluded that nuclear would at some point become unattractive for both utilities and investors. The crux of these accusations being risks incumbent with using a power generation method that has an hourly domestic water use in the equivalent off 4 to 5 million residents. The author writes, “The age of renewables will arrive when fossil fuels and nuclear power decline irreversibly and renewables increase irreversibly.” The present tense may no longer be applicable. Read more here.
Trayvon Martin Protest Scheduled For Sunday: At noon on Sunday on the south side of the Federal Building, 100 Centennial Mall North in Lincoln, protesters plan to gather in solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family and victimized minority youth. They’re also calling on the Justice Department to level hate crime charges against Zimmerman, which they may already be doing (keep reading). Read more deets about the protest here.
Protesters In Midst A 3 Day Sit-In At FL Capitol: Activists are gathered in Florida’s capitol building singing, sitting and sleeping in anticipation of a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott. They plan to personally make the case to for him to pass the Trayvon Martin Act, a law protecting the lives of all youth by rescinding stand your ground provisions. Scott reportedly has been avoiding his office since the protesters showed up. They’re camped outside his office and the vacant lieutenant governor’s office. You can help! Sign the petition to back this law here.
Funny You Should Mention That Lt. Governor: You may be wondering why the Lt. Governor’s office is vacant anyway. Rachel Maddow recently did a fascinating recap on the scandal that brought down the office’s former occupant, Jennifer Carroll. The politician was found to have connections with a money laundering operation that was posing as a veteran’s fundraiser. BUT, this was after Florida Gov. Rick Scott assigned Carroll to review the now-infamous stand your ground law in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting. Carroll made a public statement and issued a report saying hands off our stand your ground laws. Scott is citing this fair & balanced review in deciding to leave the laws intact. Let me restate: the Florida governor is citing flawed research by a disgraced peer to stand his ground on stand your ground. Here’s the full video.
Zimmerman Trial Evidence Seized By Justice Department: Hold the phone. The Justice Department is putting a hold on the gun used to kill Trayvon Martin and other evidence in the shooting. Are they possibly for their own lawsuit against Zimmerman? It’s hard to say until we see any actual charges filed, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless. Read more here.
Pipher: You Are A Climate Denier: Seems like Nebraska author and fellow green Mary Pipher has been all over the place lately promoting her new book “The Green Book.” She even made it to TIME magazine with an editorial titled “We Are All Climate Change Deniers.” Pipher writes, look, climate change is a big problem and the fact is we’re not cognitively engineered to cope with a big problem of this scope and size. The solution: get bigger. Expand your awareness and step outside yourself and look outward to increase your sensitivity to big, slow and usually invisible things like this. And, act. While we don’t know what’s going to happen with our planet’s future, Pipher writes that we know what the results of our engagement are: empowerment and connection. Check her TIME magazine piece here and her Living Earth feature here.
Biased KXL Poll Shows Overwhelming Support: Understandably when you use phrases like “ease America’s dependence on Mideast oil and create jobs” to describe the Keystone XL pipeline, you’re going to get a positive outcome. Outrageously positive, in fact. Results from a recent United Technologies and National Journal poll show 67 percent of Americans support the pipeline, and just 24 percent oppose it. But a closer look at the poll question’s wording calls the results into question. For example, we know for a fact that the KXL will not carry oil, but it’s much nastier and harder to clean up cousin diluted bitumen, which will then be shipped off to foreign markets where it fetches a higher price driving up the cost of energy for everyone. And the number of people it will employ overall could fit on a school bus, so let’s ease off on that plural, ok? A closer look at the polling data shows about 40 percent of respondents are both unemployed and have a high school education or worse. No beef with people who don’t have jobs and didn’t decide to advance themselves academically, but maybe they’re not the best people to ask about policy matters and help you create a great splashy buoyant headline like “Americans Support the Keystone XL Pipeline by Wide Margin,” Yahoo! News. It’s also worth noting that United Technologies Corp. is a major defense contractor and the sixth largest donor to political candidates in 2006, mainly to Republicans by shall we say a wide margin. So let’s not break out the champagne just yet. Read more here.
Struggling Counties Looking For Economic Support From KXL: Of the million-plus public comments submitted to the State Department related to the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, seven mention direct offers from TransCanada to help rebuild crucial infrastructure like bridges provided the pipeline comes their the author’s area. Many are from rural counties dealing with diminished tax bases hoping the pipeline’s increased land valuation stabilizes their economic situation. But, as we’ve pointed out in our own statement, the monies will run dry after seven years and you’ve still got an active pipeline in your backyard for 43 years after. These counties are sorely mistaken if they think TransCanada is taking care of them. Read more of the public comment synopsis here.
Why It’s Not Important That Farmers Believe In Climate Change: Let’s visit a curious stat; 66 percent of farmers believe that climate change is occurring, but only 41 percent believe humans are behind it, according to an Iowa State University poll. Even though — or perhaps because — ag is a big contributor to the warming of our planet, farmers are generally unwilling to join environmentalists on this point at least ideologically. The kicker: they do join in practice. The Agriculture Department is encouraging farming to take a less resource-intensive approach like encouraging no-till practices to retail soil, taking advantage of cover crops and generally using the land they have in a smarter and more effective matter. The end gain is a more efficient and often cheaper operation that also happens to cut back on environmentally harmful practices. Read more about that shift in ag strategy here.
Own Land With A Pipeline On It? Insurers Will Not Cover You: Richard Sterling of Orchard has contacted a number of insurance companiesto see if they’ll cover his land if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved and spills wisely acting on TransCanada’s literature saying it most certainly will. He fouind out they most certainly don’t. He was one of many who attended at the Antelope County Zoning Board meeting where concerned and engaged members of the public (i.e. terrorists) unsuccessfully tried to get the board to pass an anti-Keystone XL resolution. The discussion has been tabled indefinitely. Read more here.
Consumer Watchdog: KXL Will Raise Gas Prices: If the Keystone XL pipeline ever becomes active, the ease of access to the tarsands oil would increase the price of crude, not decrease it. A report by Consumer Watchdog finds that increasing the availability of tarsands oil will introduce it to overseas markets where it fetches a much higher price than in the U.S. This in turn makes the tarsands more expensive and more profitable. To you and me, that means higher oil prices of between 20 and 40 cents per gallon, and an overall anticipated economic hit up to $4 billion annually. Annually! I can name a number of pyramid schemes with a higher rate of investor return. Read more here.
Janssen: Give Me Money And I’ll Make All The Mexicans Go Away: Bouyed by recent court decision upholding Fremont’s controversial anti-immigrant measure, Charlie Janssen — now in give-me-your-gubernatorial-vote mode — is campaigning for conservative immigration reform in Nebraska. He’s not a fan of what the Senate’s doing, and with just $35, you can help make sure Janssen throws out all the state’s illegal aliens who are sitting around contributing nothing. And what’s with that music they play? Amirite? Read the article here, and then read the best comment here.
Cartoon Louis C.K. Lays Waste To Planet Abusers: Comedian Louis C.K. had a routine he did a while ago turned into a cartoon. In it he asks what would happen if God came back. The comedian believes He would have some choice words for those who haven’t been taking care of the planet. Because of language issues, it’s better that you don’t watch this at work. Wait until you get home, then click here.
Sen. Warren Calls For Serious Financial Reform: This recession, eh, it’s just a cyclical part of the system, right? WRONG. The excellent Sen. Elizabeth Warren said this is what happens when you deregulate and let big banks get bigger. Warren is working on a bill to break up financial conglomerates. What chance does it have of passing? The better question is why aren’t we backing Warren with the full force of our strength as a public. Read more about what she’s trying to do here, watch an awesome video where Warren slams these clueless CNN hosts and then say hey, what’s up to the senator here.
DEQ Prioritizes Hog Farm Over Residents’ Interests: In spite of local protests, northwest Butler County is probably getting two hog production sites. The vocal residents of Brandenburgh Lakes and others that will potentially have their air and water quality degraded by a hog confinement site are getting the back seat over Pillen Family Farms of Columbus. Residents — all of which draw from a sensitive aquifer there — say it’s game over the for the neighborhoods in the area. Read more here.
It’s Not Over For Zimmerman: