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, Feb. 13th: 

Time to Change Course–Let’s Move Forward: You may have heard some swooning lately over America’s “oil boom”–in fact one of the producing areas, the Bakken Shale, has entered into the KXL debate. Basically, the oil producers in North Dakota’s Bakken region are saying that they have more oil than they know what to do with, and so they need access to the added capacity the KXL would bring. But there is no guarantee that any of the oil flowing through the KXL will be from North Dakota, and we really don’t think that TransCanada will ultimately allow it to happen. But even if they did, a group of geologists have shot down the idea that the U.S. is somehow on its way to oil independence by virtue of the nation’s increase in production. That’s because the person who started that rumor did his math wrong. In fact, geoscientists gathering at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union completely debunk the claim that the U.S. will soon be producing more oil than Saudi Arabia. The geoscientists who presented on the “Myth of Saudi Arabia” say that only 1-2% of the known reserves in these American shale regions are recoverable, and will only be enough to fuel us for 2 years at 2011 levels of consumption. Their overarching argument, however, was that “oil production technology is giving us ever more expensive oil with ever diminishing returns for the ever increasing effort that needs to be invested.” Perhaps most importantly, they say “if we’re going to invest in expensive energy technologies, it would be better to pick long-term winners rather than guaranteed losers.” Read here

Terrible Legislation: Unicam Senator Bill Kintner has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for “state and local governments to receive funding from such groups as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives which promote Agenda 21.” Agenda 21 is a voluntarily implemented plan pushed by the United Nations to promote sustainable development around the world. Some of the actions that Agenda 21 promotes are “the development of bike trails, green energy, mass transit, land-use regulations and sustainable farming through local, national and global action.” Kintner’s reasoning for putting forth his legislation is that he sees Agenda 21 as “a broad plan to scale back development,” and also feels that it would “negatively affect farmland.” Cosponsors of this legislation are Senators Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, Tom Hansen of North Platte and Charlie Janssen of Fremont. Aside from not making any sense, we find it interesting that these Senators are now trying to show that they care about farmland when they would probably help build the KXL if given the chance. Approximately 20,000 people will come to Washington D.C. within the next few days, and four Nebraskans were arrested today in protest of the KXL. We want our leaders to take action on climate change, not make it harder to do so. Kintner’s bill works against what this generation’s priorities should be in order to provide for future generations. Read here

D.C. Action Update: Today was the first day of actions in D.C., and it was quite the day. It started off with the Nebraska Breakfast, where Jane had the opportunity to thank Senator Fischer for her vote on the Violence Against Women Act, and call out Lee Terry for his awful actions on the KXL. Then we proceeded right into preparations for the arrests. The bold protests of those who risked arrest drew in major media coverage—many experience activists said this was the most media attention they have ever seen at a protest in front of the White House. And there is so much more to come. We’ll keep you updated as the week goes on, and in the meantime you can check out photos from today and read the testimonies of our brave Nebraskan pipeline fighters who got arrested today. 


Monday, Feb. 11th: 

Free Film on the Tar Sands: To help build support for the big February 17 Climate Change/Tar Sands action in Washington, Specialty Studios is offering the award-winning film White Water, Black Gold free online for viewing and sharing by anyone through February 18. While we have been dealing with the threat of tar sands here in Nebraska for the past five years, many Americans have no idea that the tar sands are the world’s dirtiest oil — with its devastating environmental and public health impact. Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, the film can help raise public awareness about the little-known Tar Sands, motivate greater opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and increase support for action to reverse climate change. For those of you who have already joined us as pipeline fighters, this is still a great film to see as we get pumped up for the Forward on Climate rally. The full film is available to view free here

Koch’s Need the Tar Sands: An interview with Greg Palast (BBC investigative journalist) reinforces that those who will benefit the most economically from the KXL are already billionaires. We already knew that the Koch brothers have had their hands in the tar sands for years, but it also happens that their refineries in the Gulf of Mexico require the heavy oil that the tar sands provide—they aren’t built to process light sweet crude natural to Texas. Right now the Kochs are paying a premium on the heavy crude they get from Venezuela, while they could pay less for the Canadian tar sands oil. The KXL pipeline will then provide them with cheaper oil to process, making their business operations bring in a greater profit. However, this definitely does not mean that we will start paying less for oil. Nothing changes the fact that the reason for getting the oil to the Gulf coast is so it can be exported overseas to the Asian market. The KXL simply makes it possible for the Koch brothers to “make a killing” by threatening the greatest underground aquifer in North America. Read here

Obama Taking Lead: President Obama is looking to make more executive orders in his second term in order to further his domestic policy priorities. Congress has been slow moving on…well…basically everything, which is what has prompted the Administration to take this stance. A couple of the ideas Obama has for action relate to addressing climate change—having the EPA increase air pollution standards on both new and old coal fired power plants, for example, as well as energy efficiency measures. We hope this serves as an indicator that he is serious about taking action on climate change, and will add to this list of actions meant to address climate change denying the KXL permit. Other measures he is looking at include allowing all homeowners to re-finance their mortgages, creating new standards on cyber security, and pass laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Read here