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, November 15th

The Rising Price of Coal: NPPD and OPPD are raising their rates yet again in 2013. NPPD approved a rate increase of 4.5%, which its wholesale customers — 51 communities and 25 public power districts and cooperatives — will pass on to customers. This is the 7th year in a row NPPD has raised it rates; the utility raised rates 6.5% last year. NPPD said they are charging customers more due to “higher costs to generate and deliver electricity,” which is just another way of saying that coal keeps getting more expensive, and since NPPD gets 60% of its electricity from coal, that cost has to be passed on to consumers. OPPD’s 6.9% rate increase is attributed to the “costly effort to restart Fort Calhoun nuclear station.” Read here and here

Important Decisions: The Unicam is going to look a lot different this term. Not only did Nebraskans elect a great crop of new and returning senators (check out our election result list here), but there will also be a change of committee leadership that those senators will decide upon in the coming weeks. Heath Mello is vying for the chairmanship of the appropriations committee, and we would love to see him in that position. A committee that we are keeping our eye on is the Natural Resources Committee, which has major influence over the things we care about–like the pipeline and renewable energy. Neither of the candidates that have so far voiced interest in the position (Mark Christensen and Tom Carlson) would be good news for New Energy–Mark Christensen was one of the senators who flat out antagonized Nebraska citizens who testified during the special session. We hope to see strong, positive leadership on the Natural Resources Committee in order to move Nebraska toward New Energy. Read here  

A New High: Global CO2 emissions are at a new record, according to Germany’s renewable energy institute. Emissions rose 2.5% in 2011, to 34 billion metric tons–the United States was the #2 emitter, following China. World emissions have been steadily rising since the Kyoto treaty of 1990, and the effects we have seen from the dramatic increase in CO2 emissions over the past decades have become more and more visible. Perhaps that’s why, when asked to pick the “highest priority to help solve America’s energy challenges, twice as many voters select renewable energy like wind and solar power than any other choice.” Americans are also fed up with the fossil fuel lobby–67% say they are “very or somewhat concerned that political donations” by this industry is having an unwanted impact on the way our political leaders make decisions on our energy future. The U.S.A. is the #2 contributor to emissions that cause droughts like we saw here in Nebraska, and hurricanes like Sandy–and Americans are ready for a change. We hope that President Obama keeps his promises, and fights for that change we want to see by denying the KXL, supporting renewable energies, and doing much more to fight climate change. Read here and here


Tuesday, November 13th

The Lincoln Journal Star published a great op-ed by Bill McKibben today, and reading it makes us even more excited for his stop in Nebraska for the Do the Math Tour. In the piece, McKibben argues that Obama has a duty to deny the KXL if he is serious about taking on climate change. The consequences of a warming planet are prevalent–from extreme drought in Nebraska to superstorm Sandy right before the election, Americans across the nation have been facing climate change. Our leaders have been lobbied by TransCanada and big oil, but they have also listened those of us at the grassroots who have shown that this pipeline is a bad idea. McKibben notes that if Obama were to approve the pipeline, it would cancel out his auto mileage standards, one of his signature achievements, but if he were to deny the pipeline, his legacy “would stretch out into geologic time.” Read here

America’s economy will remain a high priority for the President, and one of the challenges he and Congress faces is how to address the “fiscal cliff.” The “fiscal cliff” is the expiration of all the Bush-era tax cuts coupled with draconian spending cuts–a situation that is being watched internationally as well as at home. Obama reiterated his commitment to making our tax code more fair, and announced his intention to raise more in taxes on the wealthy than previously stated. Negotiations on the issue will begin Friday. Read here

The results of last Tuesday’s election gave Obama a resounding victory in both electoral votes and the popular vote. But apparently, many people have a serious issue with this facet of democracy, and are now filing petitions for secession. So far, individuals from 30 states have filed petitions to secede, including some Nebraskans. This takes what has previously been dubbed hyperpartisanship to a whole new level, a level we hope to not see run over into Congress or state legislatures. Read here


Monday, November 12th

Experts say that the destructive wildfires experienced in Nebraska this summer are likely here to stay. Dubbing it a “new age,” the fire program leader for the Nebraska Forest Service said that the frequency and intensity of fires that have been occurring in Western states like Colorado will likely become the new norm in Nebraska, too. One of the main reasons for this new challenge Nebraskans will have to face is climate change, which “has an important role to play because temperature is increasing and rainfall is decreasing.” Read here

A recent study commissioned by the CIA reiterates what other studies have been saying for years: that climate change will have dramatic affects on our nation’s national security. The report’s lead author said that “humans are pouring carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases into the atmosphere at a rate never before seen,” which is already causing more frequent crises of the kind that will place “unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years.” This study adds that the United States is ill-prepared to take on these challenges–efforts to prepare the military, like making equipment more fuel efficient, have not gone far enough. Read here

With the President once again stating his commitment to tackling climate change, and the election under all our belts, we are primed to shut down the KXL pipeline. And there is more reason than ever for Obama to say no. The same environmental issues with tar sands extraction and transportation exist, as does the fact that we would be putting our land and water at risk for an export pipeline. Added to the list of reasons to say no is the fact that TransCanada is currently under investigation for an eroding safety culture, and with the Southern leg of the original pipeline application being built, the “need to remove the glut of oil in the Midwest” (which by the way will increase gas prices in this region) has been removed. The U.S. is also on track to become the world’s second largest oil producer and a net exporter of oil. And, if the President is serious about addressing climate change, he cannot approve a pipeline that would transport oil with a carbon footprint 20% higher than conventional crude and which would directly impact climate change. Check out these upcoming events and find out what you can do to fight the KXL pipeline. Read here