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, Jan. 30th

Saying No to Tar Sands: The EU is sticking by a plan to label tar sands oil as “highly polluting,” giving it a ranking of higher carbon intensity than conventional crude. This is a big deal because Canada has been lobbying heavily for the EU to abandon this plan because it will potentially mean the loss of an export market for the tar sands. In 2009 the EU passed legislation that gives EU member countries the directive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport fuels by 6% by 2020. Because oil coming from tar sands produces so much more emissions than conventional crude in the “well to wheel” cycle, EU member countries wouldn’t be able to use this fuel AND meet the stipulations of the Fuel Quality Directive. This is just one more major group saying “no” to the tar sands and proving that it is not at all certain that “the tar sands will be developed regardless of us allowing the KXL to be built or not.” People around the world are realizing how dirty the tar sands are, and want no part of them. Let’s help Obama say “no” too. Join us in writing him a letter and/or in D.C. for the Forward on Climate Rally. Read here

Looking at the Last Resort: TransCanada is looking at building another pipeline; this one would go all the way across Canada to the country’s east coast. Producers in Western Canada are looking for any way to get their tar sands oil to the Asian market, and since they have been facing major battles in both the U.S. and in British Columbia, this route is next on the list. The fact that the only reason the KXL is being proposed is to get tar sands oil to the Asian market is consistently reported on in the Canadian media, as is the important point that we have been getting a discount price on Canadian oil since we are basically their only market right now. Oh, and our imports of Canadian oil are going down. If only our politicians that have signed letters of support for the KXL read the Canadian newspapers instead of TransCanada’s PR materials. Read here  

No Eminent Domain for Private Gain: Hearing room #1113 was filled with proponents of LB 152 today, a bill that would increase the standards entities would have to uphold when it comes to exercising eminent domain. Testifiers drew on their experiences with TransCanada when calling on the Judiciary Committee to proceed on LB 152 immediately. They described the difficult situations they were put in when facing threats of eminent domain by TransCanada, and brought up how common sense it is to require a company to demonstrate a public purpose and to tell landowners what the project will be used for. These are some of the common sense regulations that are not actually on the books. Read more about LB 152 here, and more about the hearing today here


Tuesday, Jan. 29th

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Idle No More gathering at the State Capitol building yesterday. It was an inspiring event and it was great to feel the atmosphere of solidarity. We can beat this pipeline if we unite and work together, for all of our reasons for fighting the KXL. If you missed the gathering, you can read a short run-down of the event here

Enbridge Resisting Cleaning Their Spill: Three years ago a tar sands pipeline ruptured, spilling dilbit into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Clean up is still in progress because regulators and oil spill experts continue to find more oil in the water—the dilbit is spreading. Normal cleanup methods have been useless in cleaning up the river and regulators still do not fully understand the nature of a dilbit spill. In October the EPA asked Enbridge, the company who owns the pipeline, to continue their cleanup efforts and dredge up parts of the river—parts of the river that have already been cleaned or that didn’t have oil there before. Enbridge is resisting, saying they don’t want to dig up the oil. Parents have decided to never allow their kids to swim in the river and some families have been completely displaced from their land. They still have not been told all of the chemicals that were released in the spill. We have been promised that if there is a spill in the Ogallala Aquifer, TransCanada will clean it up and it will be better than it was before. We have been promised that nothing will happen, but if something does happen, the spill will be “localized” and easy to clean up. The people of Kalamazoo Michigan were promised these things too. Read here

Immigration Reform: Today President Obama announced some of the details of his plan for immigration reform, following up on the Senate’s announcement yesterday. MotherJones outlines some key differences between the two plans but both emphasize increased border security and a path to citizenship. President Obama’s plan allows for an expedited path to citizenship for DREAMERS, while the Senate plan does so for both DREAMERS and Ag. workers. The Senate plan has a guest worker program and requires stringent border requirements to be met before a path to citizenship can happen, while Obama’s does not. Another key difference in Obama’s is that it allows for families headed by same-sex couples to be treated the same as other families. Read here

New Secretary of State: John Kerry was confirmed as the new Secretary of State today by an overwhelming majority, with only three Republicans voting “no”. We are hoping that Kerry will remember his history of concern over climate change and care for environmental issues when he reviews TransCanada’s application for the KXL. When we go to Washington D.C. in less than a month to pressure President Obama to hold true to his words on addressing climate change, John Kerry and all of our other public officials should take note of the number of Americans that care enough about the issue to make it out to our nation’s capital. Read more on Kerry here