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.
Friday, May 24th
Watch a Tar Sands Development Project’s Insanely Fast Growth: The federal government will be posting the 1.2 billion comments the received in the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. Among them is are photos of a tar sands development project over the last three decades. It’s a pretty depressing overhead view: the green marking the forest is pretty faint at the end of the time line, while the indigo marking the project’s goo lagoons — or “tailings ponds” in industry speak — grow at a frenetic pace. It’s pretty gross scene. Keep in mind that we’re helping that grow if we let the Keystone XL Pipeline come through our backyards. Check out the map here. The rest of the comments can be found here.
Mismanaged Canadian Oil Among the Many Reasons to Reject KXL: There were 700 crude oil and bitumen spills in Alberta in 2012. And this is an improvement, Canada’s Global News reports. The average number of pipeline spills and their volume has typically gone down, which is good since the biggest one deposited over 22,000 barrels of crude into the Peace River (a situation ripe with didactic and metaphorical potential, right?) in spring of 2012. The piece notes that every pipeline is supposed to automatically detect these things and shut down the operations but, as we have noted in the past, that doesn’t always happen. This sucks. Let’s limit the amount of damage Canadian oil companies can do to their land by refusing the project that will carry it through the U.S., the Keystone XL Pipeline. Read more here.
Exxon Threatens InsideClimate News Reporter with Arrest: Reporter Lisa Song was looking for answers from federal officials on the Mayflower, Ark., spill when Exxon officials threatened her with arrest. After getting no information about precisely what EPA or Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrations officials are working out there, she decided to step into the compound the oil giant has erected for everyone to work under. Before song could reach government officials, Exxon spokeswoman Kim Jordan told Song to leave. A second official arrived threatening her arrest. It’s all good and well that Exxon controls activity on their property. What’s not so clear here is why the government has decided to hide behind the private company’s barricades in this debacle, especially when we so desperately need an honest conversation about what’s going on out there. Read more about the threatened arrest here.
Thursday, May 23rd
Keystone XL Resistance Making TransCanada Rethink Future Projects: I guess TransCanada never expected to run into BOLD Nebraska and our allies when they proposed the $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline. The Vancouver Sun writes that Alex Pourbaix, president of energy and oil pipelines, called the long delays in getting the pipeline off the ground (or into the ground?) an “education.” They’ll be thinking long and hard next time they want to bring something on like this again, Pourbaix said. Good. Read more here.
Living with Oil: Wayne Johnson lives with oil in the backyard of his Sundre, Alberta, house. Guess what: it sucks. Worse, it spills. 39 spills in 37 years. Enough for 45 barrels of crude. Friends, this could be us. Get a look at the feature here.
Despite Shortcomings, Drones Here to Stay: Deep in the throes of a controversial deaths of four Americans resulting from drone strikes (oops), President Obama issued a speech at the National Defense University promising to reign in this RC warfare. But Bloomberg Businessweek says it’s probably a lot of BS for a lot of non-BS reasons. Because drones are cheap and accurate with less than two percent of the casualties unintended (except those pesky U.S. citizen deaths), these are probably not going anywhere. Get informed here.
Tuesday, May 21st
Americans Want A Cleaner Future: A new report released by George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communications shows that the vast majority of Americans say the President and Congress should make development of clean sources of energy a very high, high, or medium priority. Majorities of Americans also support providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels and regulating CO2 as a pollutant, as well as eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry. These results should clearly demonstrate that Americans want more action on climate change and creating a more sustainable world—more renewable energies and less fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the study also shows that the majority of Americans have never heard about the KXL and that those who have support it. However, as we have pointed out before, the more people learn about the devastating impacts the pipeline would have, the more likely they are to oppose it. We still have work to do in educating others about the pipeline and making sure our stories are heard. Thank you for all you do to help us spread the word and fight the pipeline. Read here
Immigration Reform Will Move to the Senate Floor: An attempt at comprehensive immigration reform was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today on a 13-5 vote. The LA Times reports that after going through a list of over 300 amendments, the right deals had been made in order to advance the legislation out of committee with bipartisan support. The key Democratic provision included is a path to citizenship, while Republicans won when Sen. Patrick Leahy “shelved his amendment” that would have extended green card allowances to the spouses of same-sex married couples—a compromise that was “made with a heavy heart” but which Republicans on the committee made clear was necessary if anything was to be done on immigration reform. Read here
Send OK Relief Items Here: Nebraskan Dan Kroeker is headed down to Oklahoma with a pickup and trailer that will hopefully be packed full of donated items for the victims of the Monday tornado. I say hopefully because he needs your help in filling the trailer! Donations can be dropped off at the Rock Creek Apartment Complex in Omaha at 14814 Giles Rd during regular business hours. Key items needed include canned goods, childrens clothing, diapers, and hygiene products. See Dan’s facebook page for more information here
Monday, May 20th
Time For OFA To Voice Its Stance Against the KXL: Today Politico reported on Organizing for Action’s silence on the Keystone XL. Organizing for Action (OFA) is President Obama’s grassroots organization that was created to support his agenda, and therefore says that its silence reflects the fact that the President still has not taken a public stance on the KXL. But OFA has been conducting a campaign against climate change deniers in Congress and works to raise support for taking on climate change head on. Jane here at Bold Nebraska was quoted saying “OFA can’t avoid Keystone forever. Since climate change is such a huge issue for the president’s base, they’re not going to be able to dance around that.” We’re still waiting for OFA’s support and don’t see how the organization, the State Department, or the President can reconcile talking big on climate change while at the same time hiding from the Keystone XL. Read here
Send Love to Oklahoma: Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Moore, Oklahoma. Around 3 pm today an EF-4/EF-5 struck Moore, staying on the ground for over 30 minutes. The half-mile wide tornado leveled most of the town, a suburb of Oklahoma City. A particularly hard hit elementary school has captured attention as we wait for updates on the search for survivors in the rubble. The death toll in Moore is currently at 51, including 7 kids, and is expected to rise. The Guardian reports “Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said ‘hearts were broken’ following the storm” – hearts will be broken across the U.S. as more news of this horrible event comes out. Read here and here
Budget Bill Passes the Legislature: Today the Unicameral sent its budget bill to the Governor’s desk, with all but three voting in favor of it. The three dissenters were Pete Pirsch, Charlie Janssen, and Beau McCoy. The budget includes “increased payment rates for child welfare, child care and health providers; and meets requirements of the federal health care overhaul.” It also allows for more people with “intellectual disabilities who are on the state waiting list” to be served and allows for the state university system to freeze tuition for two years. One thing it does not include is funding for the new airplane our governor desires. Read here
ACTION Needed: Tomorrow at 1:30pm the Nebraska Legislature will hear debate on LB104. This legislation is one of two bills addressing renewable energy sales tax abatement—the other one is LB402. Graham Christensen of the Nebraska Farmers Union explains why you should weigh in to your senators as to why they should vote against LB104 and in support of LB402: “LB402 is fair. It treats everyone the same, big or small.” Basically, LB102 favors big projects at the expense of small projects and out of state contractors at the expense of Nebraskan workers. LB402 supports wind development at all levels. Read more about why LB402 is a better bill here; contact your senator by map here or by zipcode here