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.

Thursday, January 24th

“All Things Considered”: Jane was on NPR this morning talking about the pipeline. The topic was centered on what decision President Obama will make on the KXL.  Noted in the segment were statements John Kerry made in a confirmation hearing today, in which he offered no indication one way or the other as to his views on the project (although he has promised to divest from dozens of companies that could benefit from State Department decisions, including companies that would benefit from approval of the pipeline. Jane brought up President Obama’s inaugural speech, saying that there is no way Obama can say that we must act on climate change or we will be betraying our children and future generations, then turn around and approve the pipeline with a straight face. Toward the end of the approximately 4 minute segment TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard brings up the well-established lie that construction of the pipeline would reduce our reliance on Middle East oil, while we all know that the oil is bound for Asian markets, like China. Listen here

“Nebraska Farmers Dismayed by Gov.’s Pipeline Endorsement”: Many in the media have been writing about Governor Heineman’s decision to approve the pipeline route, implying or directly saying that it means Nebraska is on board with the pipeline. Well, we know that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Gov. Heineman may have turned his back on us, but we still have a voice. And while many news sources are skimming over those of us in opposition, there are many who recognize that pipeline fighters in our state are still here and are not going away. In this article by Brett Walton, attention is paid to Nebraska farmers who are still very vocal opponents. Property rights, land and water concerns, and climate change all play a role in why Nebraska farmers don’t want to see this pipeline built, and indeed in why all of us are pipeline fighters. Read here

Economic Leaders Need to Talk Climate Change: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is appealing to world leaders to put mitigating climate change at the top of their agendas. This week, economic leaders have gathered at the World Economic Forum to discuss finances, but Kim is pushing for them to also address climate change, which will ultimately have very dire consequences for our world economic system. The World Bank recently released a report concluding that the world temperature could increase by 4°C if something isn’t done about it now. He said “the world’s top priority must be” to get “all aspects of energy costs to support low-carbon growth. He suggested a price on carbon, incentives for energy efficiency and cleaner energy technologies, and the ending of harmful subsidies worldwide. Read here


Wednesday, January 23rd

Expanding Medicaid a Priority: Today Senators Kathy Campbell and Bob Krist (both Republicans), stood up and called for Nebraska to take part in the Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act. While Governor Heineman has opposed the Medicaid expansion from the start and continues to pit it against education funding, other Republican governors across the U.S. have come around to the idea, and the majority of our state legislators also appear to be on board. Krist said he supports the expansion because “This is a human question. (The) bottom line for me is that this is the right thing to do for our people.” We are excited to see this bipartisan support for something that will be of benefit to Nebraskans and hope that we will see our state implement the Medicaid expansion in 2014. Read here

Legal Discrimination: Senator Danielle Conrad has introduced legislation that would place a statewide ban on employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Similar to the fairness ordinances introduced in Lincoln and Omaha, this bill would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Supporters of this legislation note that it is economically important to have this ban in place because businesses and people will relocate out of the state if discrimination is allowed. It’s important to remember that it is also fundamentally a human issue; it is a matter of social justice and equality—discrimination should not be legal in any circumstance. Read here

Following the Money: You may see a headline that says a “bipartisan” group of Senators wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to approve the KXL. By bipartisan, they really mean 90% Republicans who have already voiced their support for the pipeline over and over again. Interestingly, but not really surprisingly, the Senators who signed on to the letter have each received an average of a half million dollars from dirty fuel companies. The Senators who signed the letter have received on average 340% more in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry than those who did not sign on. I think it’s fair to say those signatures mean a lot less when considering the money behind them. Read here


Tuesday, January 22nd

Today Governor Heineman turned his back on Nebraska citizens and landowners. He approved the Keystone XL’s route over the concerns of those who voted for him and those for whom he is supposed to govern in the best interest of. He turned his back on his own words, flip-flopping on statements he made to President Obama:  “I am opposed to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline route because it is directly over the Ogallala Aquifer.Governor Heineman, the route still crosses over the Ogallala Aquifer, and your original concerns about the pipeline threatening the livelihoods of Nebraskans still stand. In his letter approving the pipeline, Gov. Heineman relied on the faulty DEQ report and claims made by TransCanada that have already been demonstrated to be false. Read more on our reaction to Gov. Heineman’s decision here.

President Obama is now the only thing that stands between us and the devastating effects the KXL will have on our land, water, climate, and our neighbors and friends who have repeatedly said they do not want this pipeline on their land. Please send a letter to President Obama ASAP asking him to deny the KXL.

Here’s a Roundup of important information that demonstrates the KXL is NOT in our national interest:

President Obama declared yesterday that “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”  If President Obama is serious about tackling climate change, he has to deny the KXL.

“Game Over” for our climate: “Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening…If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate…President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.” –James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  Read his full article here

Tar Sands are even more threatening to the climate than we thought: “It is a well established fact that full exploitation of the tar sands is a grave threat to the climate…On a lifecycle basis, the average gallon of tar sands bitumen derived fuel has between 14 and 37 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average gallon of fuel from conventional oil…But as bad as these impacts already are, existing analyses of the impacts of tar sands fail to account for a byproduct of the process that is a major source of climate change causing carbon emissions: petroleum coke – known as petcoke…Petcoke is like coal, but dirtier…a ton of petcoke yields on average 53.6 percent more CO2 than a ton of coal.” Read more here

The KXL holds more economic risks than profits: “It is our assessment—based on the publicly available data—that the construction of KXL will create far fewer jobs in the US than its proponents have claimed and may actually destroy more jobs than it generates.” Read the Cornell Study here

The economic figures Heineman cites in his approval of the route are incorrect, misleading and refuted by journalists and economic experts. Additionally, Bold Nebraska requested a pipeline expert to review economic portions of the DEQ report and found the numbers to be biased and on very shaky ground.

The KXL is not about energy security, it is about opening up an export market to Asia: “A route to energy-hungry Asia could pass through refineries to ships on the Texas Gulf coast. That is, if and when the Obama administration in Washington gets around to approving it… And with the International Energy Agency forecasting the U.S. achieving energy self-sufficiency by 2020, Keystone isn’t really about reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Not in the longer term. It’s about a route to Asia for Canadian oil, and diversifying our markets.” –Ian MacDonald, named one of the 100 most influential people in the Canadian political scene. Read more here

The report Governor Heineman used to back up his decision was bought and paid for by TransCanada and cannot be accepted in a State Dept. EIS: TransCanada is a regular customer of HDR, the company the NDEQ commissioned to do the environmental impact statement. HDR advertises that one of its areas of expertise is in getting permits granted to oil pipeline companies. If the State Department uses the DEQ study in their environmental impact statement, which Governor Heineman asks them to do in his letter approving the route, then the State Department’s EIS will also be seriously flawed. Read the Citizen’s Review of the DEQ report for more on how flawed the report is. Read more on HDR’s conflict of interest here

More resources on the pipeline can be found on our KXL issue page, located here

Send a letter to President Obama reminding him of all these reasons why it is imperative that he deny the KXL. 

We are still moving forward with the Vigil planned on Jan. 29th outside the Governor’s mansion. Our message will be the same, we must stop this pipeline from risking our land, water and property rights. Join us on Jan. 29th at 6pm to send a clear message to Heineman and to Obama that we as Nebraskans will not stand for politicians selling our kids’ future for some dirty tarsands.

Join us in Washington D.C. Presidents Day Weekend for the ForwardonClimate Rally, where we will demand that President Obama deny the KXL and take action on climate change


Monday, January 21st

President Obama took the oath of office this morning, which also happens to be MLK day. Ring in President Obama’s second term by sending a letter urging him to reject risky KXL export pipeline Here’s your Roundup:

Breaking Communities Apart: Jessica Ernst is a scientist who has worked in the oil and gas industry. She discovered first-hand the consequences of hydraulic fracturing in her town of Rosebud, Alberta, Canada. Seeing the impacts oil and gas companies have on communities and the land has made her an activist, speaking out against these companies and urging people not to buy in to their promises. She has traveled around the world to warn communities of the dangers of fracking, and in this video she notes that “no healthy community would allow fracking.” With this in mind, she says oil and gas companies have been brilliant because their strategy is to break communities apart by tapping into the bad side of human nature: greed. These companies’ business and profits rely on turning those who are attracted by the companies’ monetary promises against their own concerned neighbors. Watch here

No Commentary Needed; It’s Just Awesome: You may remember Ken Igulnas from the DEQ hearing on Dec. 4th. He’s been walking the entire route of the KXL, starting his journey in the fall of 2012. He wrote this article about his hike “from the beginning until he reached Albion, which was a turning point in many ways.” It was published in Salon magazine yesterday, and it is one of the best articles I have ever read on the KXL. Read it here, and follow Ken’s blog here; he just crossed the Red River into Texas.

Let’s Give Him No Choice But To Keep His Word: Today, in his second inaugural address, President Obama declared that “we will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” While these words are encouraging, we know that it is up to us to remind him that we expect him to actually follow through on those words. We will be going to Washington D.C. on Presidents Day weekend to tell him the first thing he can do to take action on climate change is deny the KXL. We still need you to send in letters asking him to deny the KXL so that he knows there is a strong base of KXL opponents with many different reasons (its link to climate change being one of them) as to why the KXL is bad for the United States.

This is the full segment of his speech that was dedicated to climate change:  “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

Read his full address here