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, March 14th

The Vatican decided on a new pope yesterday, and physicists have announced that they are “achingly close” to confirming they have found the “God particle.” Meanwhile, new information comes out further solidifying our knowledge that the KXL is an export pipeline, and Lee Terry continues to prove where his allegiances truly lie. Here’s your Roundup (Brought to you by Carolyn and Chelsea):

Clear Data: Pipeline Not for We the People: Oil Change International has just released new data further solidifying what we already know: that the Keystone XL pipeline’s purpose is not to provide oil for the U.S., but to be used for export. The data “reveals that a full 60 percent of gasoline produced in 2012 at Texas Gulf Coast refineries was exported. Additionally, Oil Change International notes that U.S. consumption is “declining and the industry will continue to maximize its profits through exports.” An analyst at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch recently told the Investor Daily that, “The bulk of the Motiva plant’s production is — like a growing share of refinery capacity along the Gulf Coast — geared for export (…) (w)e can export gasoline and diesel to northwest Europe cheaper than they can produce it locally” (Oil Change International). The Keystone XL pipeline clearly has nothing to do with America or Americans except for its need for our land to serve as a vehicle for oil producer and oil refiner’s profits. “It is now clear that the Keystone XL pipeline is a pipeline through America not to America […] to get their product to refineries that serve international markets [to] expand their market beyond U.S. borders, increase the price they get for their product, and maximize profits […] That this has nothing to do with the U.S. national interest, the main criterion for State Department approval, is now even more abundantly clear” (Oil Change International). Read here

Out of Touch Terry: Yesterday’s comments on the KXL by President Obama were heartening in that it’s clear he is hearing us and isn’t fooled by the exaggerated claims of TransCanada and TransCanada’s supporters. However what also must be looked at when reflecting on yesterday’s meeting with House Republicans is how very out of touch our very own Lee Terry is (and believe me, we cringe to claim him). In response to Obama’s spot-on comments that the oil will be exported, Terry said that Obama’s statement about oil exportation was “flat-out-wrong” and “disturbing.” Lee Terry should have had the new Oil Change International data in front of him. But we all know Terry is out of touch with mostly everything except for the oil lobby’s needs. 2014 isn’t far off, folks. Terry continues to misrepresent Nebraskans and continues to prove where his allegiance really lies – and that’s not in the Heartland. Read here


Tuesday, March 12th

“Funeral For Our Future”: Yesterday, over 100 protesters blockaded TransCanada offices in Westborough, Massachusetts. They included students, clergy, mothers and community leaders who held “a Funeral for Our Future” in TransCanada’s office for a good hour until police showed up and asked them to leave. Twenty-five of those protestors refused, instead handcuffing themselves together and ultimately being arrested for their act of civil disobedience. Noting that their action came a week after the State Department released its flawed SEIS, the protestors dispute, as to we, the report’s assertion that the pipeline would have no impact on climate change. Discussing the day’s civil disobedience, the protestors said “we did not act in isolation on this day, but as part of an escalating global movement to fight for a stable future, a livable planet, and for justice for affected frontline communities.” Read here and here

“Can’t Buy Me Love”: The Omaha World Herald is featuring an article by the AP in today’s online edition. The title of the article is “America’s New Love: Water.” It takes a look at the Beverage Digest’s findings that consumption of water has finally retaken the top spot as America’s favorite beverage after soda/pop had taken the lead for over two decades. According to industry analysts, it’s unclear whether tap or bottled water will be more popular in years to come. Consumption of bottled water has continuously gone up year after year, for reasons like convenience and worry about the quality of the water coming out of the tap. But waste generated by plastic bottle use is lowering their consumption in many places. Aside from this new consumption trend being interesting, I do have another reason for including this in the Roundup, and I’m sure you can guess where my thoughts are headed. Upon reading the title of the article, “America’s New Love: Water,” and quickly discovering it was about beverage choice and not in fact, about President Obama making the surprise decision to choose water over oil and deny the KXL, I automatically thought about what it didn’t say: “America’s New Love: Oil.” That’s because the Beverage Digest wisely made the decision not to include oil in their “list of things humans can drink.” The simple finding that Americans are once again in love with water holds so much more power and meaning than what it can tell Coca-Cola about its market outlook. It should shape the President’s decision on the KXL. We can’t drink oil, and we love (and need) water. Read here

Looking Forward to Change: This year’s unicameral session has so far seen quite a few bills related to energy—just in the past two weeks we have seen the introduction of Senator Haar’s “true cost of energy bill,” Senator McGill’s Solar Gardens bill, and Senator Larson’s bill to increase the net metering limit. This is what happens when 90% of Nebraskans want to see their energy come from sources other than coal and would like “to see government support and incentives for alternative energy sources such as wind and solar increase.” This support only grows, and it’s no wonder, considering the unexplored potential for renewables that our state possesses. Renewables and diversification are in, status quo coal is out. This is something that our Public Power Districts have yet to catch on to, however, as evidenced by the fact that our utilities are still heavily dependent upon coal, and the only two testifiers to oppose Senator Haar’s bill (after 18 proponents came and went) were representatives of our public utilities. We started to bring New Energy to our public offices in 2012, but 2014 is going to be bigger. We need people in office who will represent what we, as citizens, as them to. Ignoring 90% of the population must no longer be tolerated. Read here   


Monday, March 11th

The New York Times’ editorial board came out against the KXL today. This is a big deal, as the staffers of Congressmen and the Administration all read the NYT. The overriding reason the board cites is that if the President is serious about climate change, he cannot say yes to this pipeline. The editorial says that Obama needs to focus on the long term consequences of approving the pipeline, and just say no. Here’s your Roundup: 

“Oil-Fueled” Legislation: Last week draft legislation was introduced by our favorite oil representative, Lee Terry, to take the KXL decision out of President Obama’s hands. Four other “oil-fueled” Congressmen have joined Terry in co-sponsoring this bill. Together, these 5 representatives (Terry, Matheson, Barrow, Upton, and Whitfield) average 400% more lifetime fossil fuel campaign contributions than the average member of the House of Representatives.  You read that right: 4 times the Dirty Energy Money than their counterparts! Shocking, I know. Terry has failed to win support for similar pieces of legislation, but that doesn’t mean he has stopped trying. Terry’s motto is apparently “10th time’s a charm.” Read here

Harsh Reality: A video depicting wealth inequality in the U.S. has gone viral. Released in November, the video contains infographics that lead us through our understanding of inequality in America and the very different reality that actually exists. It highlights what Americans see as the “ideal” level of wealth distribution, and first compares that ideal with what Americans think is the real distribution. It then compares that perception of reality with what the wealth distribution actually looks like. It turns out that the average person’s understanding of wealth inequality is far from reality. In fact, while our ideal level of inequality and the level of inequality that we actually think exists are able to fit on the same scale, the true level is off the charts. Watch here

“Battle Lines”: National Geographic wrote a piece on the “New Battle Line in Oklahoma” that the KXL will draw if Obama approves the pipeline. Cushing will be the connecting point between the northern leg of the pipeline and the southern, and author Bret Shulte finds that the town that is a pipeline hub is also home to grassroots resistance to the KXL. The general view is that the section from Cushing to the Gulf Coast was supposed to be the “easy part.” But while TransCanada has already started to build the southern leg, it has been met with resistance along the way, both by activists like Elisabeth Leja (a 74 year old retired math teacher who chained herself to a piece of TransCanada’s equipment last month) and by landowners who are fighting the company in court. Schulte notes that in reality, TransCanada has struggled to find much real, widespread grassroots support for the pipeline. That’s because it really only benefits producers in Alberta and refiners in Texas. Those of us who stand in the way, those of us along the pipeline route, have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Read here