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, October 25th

We Want Wind!: The Lincoln Journal Star has written a great editorial about how Nebraska needs the wind production tax credit (PTC). We have the 4th greatest potential for wind energy in the entire United States, yet we rank 25th in actual capacity. But we have started to improve, and the wind PTC has helped spur wind development all across the country. Given our public power status, our state has not always been able to benefit from the PTC, but laws were “tweaked,” and Nebraska seemed poised to “exploit this renewable resource.” The newly minted Broken Bow wind farm was intended to be expanded, but those plans will have to wait if the PTC does not get renewed. A wind turbine manufacturing plant in Columbus has announced that it will “probably have to lay off more than 200 employees next month.” We need Congress to act, so that Nebraska’s wind potential can materialize. Contact your Senators and Congressmen here. Read the LJS editorial here 

Romney Policies Would Hurt the Recovering Economy: The economy has taken center stage this election, and polls have Romney as leading on that issue. Aside from talking up his own experience in the business world (in which it was his job to make millions off of failing companies by helping them fail and fire workers) Romney has been advocating for massive austerity, and has been backed up by members of his party. Ironically, they all cite European austerity policies as models for our own nation, to help us get our economy growing and create jobs. The problem is, European economies are stagnating, while ours is growing. This is mostly due to what any economics book will tell you–that in a recession or economic downturn, one of the last things you should do is enact austerity measures. Read here

“Too Much $, Too Little Democracy”: By the time one of them has been elected to be President of the United States for the next 4 years, both President Obama and Mitt Romney will have likely spent $1 billion. Each. Hopefully, that will sound ridiculous to you–because it is ludicrous. But it today’s world of campaign finance laws, it is totally legal–in fact, limits on campaign spending, like those that were put in place following the Watergate scandal, have been deemed limits on political speech. While limits on how much one can donate to a specific candidate is limited t0 $5,000, one can make unlimited donations to super pacs that have the interests of the candidates in mind. While proponents of unrestrained spending see it as promoting democracy, it can actually harm the process quite a lot. For starters, it means some people have greater freedom of speech than others–far greater, in fact, millions of times greater. But it also puts our politicians in the position of, in a very direct sense, owing those people who have made extremely large contributions in order to get them elected–and they pay in legislation. In the words of James Bennet and Joe Nocera, “this can’t be good for democracy. Read here


Wednesday, October 24th

A Reminder: This weekend, we are hosting a showing of the film Pipe Dreams at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln before the Nebraska vs. Michigan football game, to raise awareness of the devastating tar sands spill that happened in Michigan two years ago. Admission is free and there will be yummy appetizers provided by Pepe’s Bistro. Come join us at 5:30, this Saturday for a fun event during which we will also share our New Energy Voter Guide. Here’s your Roundup: 

KXL Would Reflect TransCanada’s Record: New information is showing that preceding the massive explosion of TransCanada’s Bison natural gas pipeline in Wyoming (occurred this summer), TransCanada officials knew there were problems with the line. The problems “related to welding and inspection” caused an explosion that “blew out a 12-metre section of pipeline and shook buildings more than a kilometre away,” a mere six months after going into service. Naturally, TransCanada said this was a state of the art pipeline, and 2 months before the explosion, claimed that the line wouldn’t need repairs for 20 – 30 years. TransCanada fired an employee who called them out on their shoddy safety practices that are now being investigated by the NEB. Keep in mind that all of this has been happening while our public officials are seriously considering that this company may actually be good for Nebraskans. Seriously. Read here

KXL Won’t Lower Gas Prices: The OWH reported today that the U.S. will soon be the world’s second largest oil producer, second only to Saudi Arabia. However, it was noted that despite this rise in production, gas prices have not gone down. This is because of increased demand in the rest of the world and instability in the Middle East. We can’t help but comment that if our own increased production in oil isn’t making prices at the pump lower, it’s quite obvious that TransCanada won’t be able to either, even if we were to get the oil that would flow through KXL (which we won’t). Read here

#NOKXL: We oppose the KXL for many reasons. Among them is the effect the extraction of tar sands has on the land north of our border, and on the climate. As is noted in this piece by Laray Polk of AlterNet, scientists across the U.S. are majorly concerned about it too, so much so that they have “made public statements, wrote letters to the President, and committed acts of civil disobedience” to try to drive home why exploitation of the tar sands, and KXL’s role in that, is bad. In a nutshell: producing tar sands oil is more energy intensive than producing normal crude oil, the surface mining required for getting at tar sands means the removal of one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, and the whole process results in a massive release of methane, “a GHG 25 times more potent than CO2.” Read here

Tuesday, October 23rd 

When entering the voting booth, it’s essential to know which candidates stand with you on the issues you care about. Fortunately, we’ve made finding that out easy. We have done a lot of research on Nebraska candidates, from those running for the Senate to those seeking spots on the Public Power District Boards. With exactly two weeks until election day, it’s time to check out our voter guide. Here’s your Roundup:

Even Investors Say Tarsands is Risky: A group of key players in the tar sands have put up a warning sign–it says “slow down.” Investors with a combined $2 trillion in assets in the tar sands have acknowledged the major negative implications unrestrained development of the tar sands has on the environment and on social welfare, and has called on the tar sands developers to “lower greenhouse gas emissions, manage water use, promote land reclamation and consult fully with First Nations and other communities affected by oil sands projects.” These investors are calling these steps necessary if the industry hopes to “protect the long-term financial viability of this resource.” This is obviously a very big deal. Not only is tarsands risky for property rights, land and water…it’s a risky financial investment. Read here, click here for a visual on what so far mostly unrestrained development looks like

Nebraska’s Potential: Last week, the Sierra Club released a study on Nebraska’s wind energy potential, done by an economist who used to work in the Nebraska Energy department. Nebraska is ranked 4th in the nation in wind energy potential, but 25th in actual capacity. This is a shame for many reasons, and this study highlights one: that investment in this resource would be good for our economy. We already know that greater utilization of this resource that is so plentiful in Nebraska would be good for the environment, something acutely important as climate change has become a dire threat, and we have also known for awhile that it would bring economic benefits–we now have major numbers to back that up. According to the study, “more investment in wind generation and energy-efficient technology could create 14,000 jobs and save ratepayers $3.8 billion over the next 20 years, and that wind projects could generate as much as $130 million annually in property tax payments.” Governor Heineman today announced his desire to see the wind production  tax credit (an incentive that has spurred major investment in wind that is set to expire at the end of this year) continue. Read here 

Right for Nebraska: The Lincoln Journal Star has endorsed Bob Kerrey for U.S. Senate. Among the reasons for the endorsement, the JournalStar notes that Kerrey has shown a record for a willingness to cross party lines, while Fischer has shown her loyalty to her party–something that is so common in Congress today it has become toxic. The Star also highlights Kerrey’s experience, saying that it will make him an effective member of the U.S. Senate. Read here, and check out our New Energy Voter profiles of Kerrey and Fischer here