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 11th

Thank You, Randy: Yesterday, pipeline fighter Randy Thompson gave a presentation to a group of students, professors, and locals at Iowa State University about his experiences with TransCanada and his five year struggle against the KXL. We cannot give Randy enough thanks and credit for his work to protect Nebraska’s land and water, and for raising awareness of TransCanada’s much less than friendly tactics when trying to take landowners’ property. We still Stand with Randy. Read here and here

A Mysterious Oil Sheen: The Coast Guard has released their assessment of the oil sheen found in the Gulf of Mexico around a month ago. It matches oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill two years ago. But they don’t know where it is coming from. Oil drilling professionals say it’s “unlikely that the Macondo well is leaking again,” and some BP internal documents imply that the oil is coming from the pipe that had connected the drilling rig to the now sealed up well. Call us crazy, but it seems a little ridiculous that this oil sheen has been there for a month, is now 3 miles long by 300 yards wide, and no one knows where it is coming from. Oh, and according to officials it is posing no danger and there is no way to clean it up. Read here

#NOKXL: “We will never get all of the oil out [of the river]. It’s impossible,” said Steve Hamilton, a Michigan State University Professor who has worked intensively studying the dilbit-contaminated Kalamazoo River. He is referring to the fact that the EPA has asked Enbridge to dredge up 100 more acres of the Kalamazoo river because they keep finding oil in the water. In fact, they are finding that the dilbit has been moving and forming a plume—something that we have been “promised” will not happen here in the Ogallala Aquifer when the KXL ruptures. Officials continue to acknowledge the difficulty of cleaning up dilbit because it is unlike any other oil they have worked with before. It is also continuously brought up that the situation is being treated with extra care because scientists and others are worried about the impact of dilbit on ecosystems and water, because not much is known about it. Read here


Wednesday, October 10th

Voting Against Basic Rights: On an 8-2 vote, the Grand Island City Council voted to reject an ordinance like those passed in Omaha and Lincoln that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Council also voted against putting the ordinance before voters. Reasons for this shameful decision range from  believing it would have “unintended consequences” to Councilman Mitch Nickerson saying Grand Island should not be a “gay-friendly” city. At the end of the day, whatever justification is offered for votes like this is only in defense of denying people basic rights–and there is no justification for that. Read here  

More Reasons to Be a New Energy Voter: Yesterday, an 80 MW wind farm near Broken Bow was dedicated by NPPD. This wind farm is projected to produce enough power to provide electricity to 25,000 homes. This is the type of energy project we would like to continue to see more of in Nebraska. To do that, we need to get officials in charge of promoting wind energy on board too. One way to do that is by being a New Energy Voter yourself, and voting for candidates whom through research, we have found to be likely to support New Energy projects like this wind farm near Broken Bow. We also need to tell our representatives in Congress to extend the wind production tax credit, which has been a major driver behind wind energy expansion. Read here and here 

Putting Our Veterans to Work: In a press conference yesterday, Governor Heineman announced the launch of the state’s new campaign to “find jobs for military veterans, increase the state’s population and help employers recruit quality workers.” This campaign aimed at veterans has already held several job fairs to bring veterans together with employers, and also works to provide assistance with every step of the job search process. These programs are currently serving more than 8,000 veterans statewide. We hope that this effort continues to be a success, and provides even more of our veterans with services that will still only begin to pay them back for the service they have given us. Read here


Tuesday, October 9th

Our Entire Nation Needs Climate Scientists to Call for Action: As we noted yesterday, the UNL scientists who came out last week with their unprecedented joint call for action on human-caused climate change did so at a crucial time. Polling data currently shows that the American public is ready for action to be taken, and campaigning or at the very least talking about addressing climate change is a winning issue for politicians.  In an interview with Mother Jones, Joe Romm (who has been dubbed “America’s Fiercest Climate Blogger,”) said that climate change is “an issue that the public broadly gets–and there is an underlying respect for science and scientists.” And he said there “is a way to talk about the issue that works politically,” it just needs to get communicated–which is exactly what our state’s scientists are doing. Read here

CFRA Finds Major Benefits for Rural Nebraskans in Expanding Medicaid: The Center for Rural Affairs released a new report yesterday detailing the importance of Nebraska implementing the Medicaid expansion provided for in the Affordable Care Act. The report concludes that the decision of whether or not to take part in the expansion holds “significant implications for Nebraska’s small towns and rural residents.” The report looks at the economic and social impacts of implementation on rural residents, and finds that significant revenues and job creation will come to the state, and that expanding coverage will obviously benefit those who will gain access to the security and improved well-being that health coverage offers. Read here

Terry Called Upon to Take Down Ad: Nebraska Congressional District 2’s race is heating up. Lee Terry has put an ad up to mislead voters,  and Ewing has called on Terry to pull the ad and apologize to the Douglas County Treasury Office.  In the ad, Terry states that Ewing has racked up budget deficits year after year, when in reality Ewing has consistently operated under his allocated budget. Read here


Monday, October 8th

Lost Benefits from Losing Cap-and-Trade: In policy-making circles, it cap-and-trade appears to be a dirty word, and a solution that our leaders would not touch with a ten-foot pole.  But it hasn’t always been that way; in fact, it used to be a policy choice that was seriously considered before it got too political. Farmers Union President John Hansen laments the failure of cap-and-trade, because he and his members recognized the benefits it would have brought to Nebraska farmers. In fact, “Nebraska lost over three million acres that were enrolled in carbon sequestration and millions of dollars per year that could have been paid to farmers who kept soil tillage to a minimum and trapped greenhouse gasses under the surface.” These losses are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the consequences of not addressing climate change—a challenge that most countries in the world have agreed needs to be tackled. Read here

An Unprecedented Move: Last week, we saw five Nebraska University faculty members from climate and climate-related fields issue a joint public statement on the evidence of increasing climate extremes and the potential for more extreme weather. Art Hovey of the JournalStar points out the importance of this action. Never before (at least in the memories of these faculty members) have members of this NU department came together with a call for action. But there is no more time to wait. One signor of the letter made it clear that “he’s a scientist and an educator…not a sociologist, not an economist, not a politician;” and he sees his role as “making sure the science is out there, truthfully, factually, and that the science can’t be misrepresented in the policy debate.” This is even more important in this election year when human-caused climate change denial is so rampant (NE Senate candidate Deb Fischer is one of those deniers), and when we need our leaders to act. It is one major reason why BOLD Nebraska and partner groups collected research and created the New Energy Voter Guide—so Nebraskans can vote for candidates who will work to protect the environment and bring us New Energy. Read here

Hopeful Jobs Report: On Friday, the September job numbers came out, and they were good news. The unemployment rate is now at 7.8%, the lowest it has been since January 2009, when Obama took office. This drop in unemployment is even though more people entered the labor force, “bringing the ratio of Americans with a job to its highest level since May 2010.” Additionally, pproximately 456,000 fewer Americans reported not having a job but wanting one. The Labor Department also revised its estimates for July and August–they now show that job creation is now at a level above that needed to keep pace with a growing population. President Obama noted that work still needs to be done to bring the unemployment rate down further, and it appears that our nation is on that path. Read here