Earlier this month, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), celebrated its 40th birthday in Chicago, where the group’s corporate and legislative members gathered to discuss policy plans and new model legislation for the coming year. It was…
A family of three living in a home about 200 yards away from the blast escaped unharmed.
A natural gas pipleine explosion in northwestern Oklahoma sparked a massive fire on Monday night, CBS News reported.
According to News9, firefighters from Oklahoma and Kansas were called to the scene near the town of Rosston. Residents within two miles of the blast were ordered to evacuate. Highway 284 was shut down as a precaution.
Engineers were called in to cut off the natural gas flow to the pipeline, which is owned by Northern Natural Gas of Omaha, and brings gas from Texas to the Upper Midwest.
Thursday night, Stephen Colbert talked about the latest issues with fracking, and how some companies are imposing gag orders on families sickened by it or paying them off to ensure their silence. This is yet another stellar example of Colbert's amazing talent of combining comedy with serious news content, and achieving both the laughs and spreading important information to his audience:
"These days, I can burn carbon to my heart's content, because America is enjoying a new golden age of flammability."
DAVID POGUE, NYT (12/30/2012): There are 36,000 fracking wells in this country. Thousands more open up every year. The price of natural gas has dropped 86% from its high in 2008. We're actually about to start exporting it.
MONICA CROWLEY (1/9/2013): You could wipe out the unemployment problem in this country overnight by fracking.
ANN McELHINNEY, "FRACKNATION" DIRECTOR (10/28/2012): It's an extraordinary ability now for America to extract its oil and natural gas and, you know, become, you know, energy independent. It's amazing, amazing for America.
"Yes, it's absolutely amazing," the Colbert Report host explains. "Energy is so cheap, I can finally realize my dream of making my furnace and air conditioner fight. Who loves me more, boys?"
"America has found the goose that lays the golden egg." "Unfortunately," notes Colbert, "it is pooping all over our house."
In a January 12, 2012, speech, Thomas J. Donohue, President of the U.S Chamber of Commerce, said: "Labor unions and the business community alike are urging President Obama to act in the best interests of our national security and our workers and approve the pipeline. We can put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project."
Donahue took those pie-in-the-sky job predictions even further, "In fact, by knocking down the barriers, we can unlock up to $250 billion in private capital for infrastructure. Leverage this with public investments, and we could create 1.9 million jobs over 10 years."
With so many unemployed and under-employed in the U.S., it's no wonder there is such a bitter divide between environmentalists and those who support the KXL pipeline, 250k to 1.9 million new jobs is quite a carrot to dangle. But it's not true, according to the State Department.
TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, heralded by supporters as a major job creator, will add few permanent positions once the $7 billion project is built.
The number of people needed to operate and maintain the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) pipeline may be as few as 20, according to the U.S. State Department, or as many as a few hundred, according to TransCanada.
“I don’t see a big jobs impact,” Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, said in an interview. “It gets the oil into refineries that already exist. It’s like replacing a bridge on the highway.”
Numbers for temporary construction jobs along the pipeway, according to State Department, estimates are anticipated to be between 5,000 and 6,000. Note that those are temporary positions.
Of the 800,000 tons of 36-inch carbon steel pipe needed for pipeline construction, it's not altogether clear how much will be produced by U.S. steel mills, prompting Congressional Democrats led by Representative Henry Waxman, of California, to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling to disclose where steel for the project will be manufactured.
“TransCanada is entitled to decide where to purchase its materials,” Waxman’s Feb. 10 letter said. “However, providing misleading information to Congress in order to obtain a legislative earmark for the approval of its pipeline would be clearly improper.”
As few as twenty jobs. Why would anyone risk our precious land, water and air for twenty jobs with a dirty oil company?
Speaking from Hyde Park Academy in his hometown Chicago, President Obama says he wants to reignite the "true engine of America's economic growth, a rising, thriving middle class."
"Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions: How do we bring good jobs to America? How do we equip people with the skills those jobs require? And how do we make sure your hard work leads to a decent living?" Obama says in the address.
By launching manufacturing hubs across the country, the president says he believes it will "transform hard-hit regions into global centers of high-tech jobs and manufacturing." America should become a "magnet for new jobs," he says.
Obama explains that getting there should be simple.
"We need to make our tax code more competitive, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and rewarding companies that create jobs here at home. And we need to invest in the research and technology that will allow us to harness more of our own energy and put more people back to work repairing our crumbling roads and bridges," says. "These steps will help our businesses expand and create new jobs."
The president also notes his goals raising the minimum wage and providing every American child with "high-quality preschool," because, he says, "kids in these programs do better throughout their lives."
"These steps will help grow our economy and rebuild a rising, thriving middle class. And we can do it while shrinking our deficits. We don’t have to choose between the two, we just have to make smart choices," he said.
A full transcript of the President's remarks after the fold, or visit the White House website.
Some of the world's largest energy giants are moving into eastern Australia and investing billions of dollars to exploit coal seam gas reserves so vast they could rewrite the world's energy map. Despite generating massive amounts of revenue and creating thousands of new jobs, they are being met by a groundswell of public protest and a rising chorus of concern about the long-term impacts of coal seam gas extraction on the nation's health, environment and land. Coal seam gas has the potential to make Australia an energy superpower, but at what price?
12 protesters were arrested this week during a demonstration of about 150 people at a coal seam gas drilling site. Activists had locked themselves to trees and trucks.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham criticized police for being forceful:
"It's a sad reflection on the coal seam gas industry that police have to arrest local residents and force their way through a community blockade so that they can drill for gas," he said in a statement.
"There is no future for coal seam gas in NSW if each drill rig needs to have a police guard to force its way into communities."
The protesters have been keeping a blockade of the drilling site going for nearly two months now, but police seem determined to break any protest that interferes with drilling.
Rig Runs Aground in Alaska, Reviving Fears About Arctic Drilling
One of Shell Oil’s two Arctic drilling rigs is beached on an island in the Gulf of Alaska, threatening environmental damage from a fuel spill and calling into question Shell’s plans to resume drilling in the treacherous waters north of Alaska in the summer.
Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Wind Tax Credits One Year
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Warming Twice Earlier Estimate
US researchers say they found the first evidence of warming during the southern hemisphere's summer months. They are worried that the increased melting of ice as a result of warmer temperatures could contribute to sea-level rise.
Gas Prices Hit Record High in 2012
Annual gas prices hit a record high in 2012, the AAA motor club said Monday. On average, the national gas price for the year was $3.60 per gallon, eclipsing last year’s record of $3.51 per gallon. AAA attributed the increase to weather events and global turmoil.
Emerald Coal Sued In Pennsylvania For Allegedly Polluting Waterways
A citizens' group has sued a longwall mining company in southwestern Pennsylvania, claiming it is polluting key waterways — including at least one high-quality fishing stream — that feed the Monongahela River.
12 Eco-Stories to Restore Your Faith in Humanity
We often hear people complaining that there is much more bad news in the media than good news. This is even frequently the case with eco-news. Looking back over 2012, it turns out that there were plenty of upbeat eco-stories this year that demonstrate how individuals, schools, companies and even cities are making positive impacts. Click through to see a dozen stories that might just help restore your faith in humanity.
Leading Environmentalist Rebecca Tarbotton of Rainforest Action Network Dies at 39
In case you missed the sad news, Leading environmentalist and human rights champion Rebecca "Becky" Tarbotton, executive director of the organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN), has died at the age of 39. Tarbotton was vacationing in Mexico with her husband and passed away after a swimming accident.
Guest Post by Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America
For this video, we asked people to compare Mitt Romney's real positions with the ones he's claimed to support in the final weeks of the campaign.
We know Mitt Romney will say anything to win, even if it’s not true – just like he did in Massachusetts and in the first debate. The real Mitt Romney has been running on his “severely conservative” positions for years, but now – just weeks before Election Day – he’s trying to hide them because they’ll hurt the middle class and his chances of winning.
We saw this clearly in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, as Governor Romney cynically and dishonestly hid the self-described “severely conservative” positions he’s been running on – and there’s no doubt he’s memorizing more deceptions as he prepares for Tuesday’s second debate.
On Tuesday, Romney will be asked some simple questions by Americans from diverse backgrounds about how his plans will impact their lives. So we’ve provided some simple translations to help voters – and the media – interpret the deceptive answers he’s most likely to give in return.
Question #1: What’s your tax plan and what will it mean for middle-class families?
What he’ll say: “I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: As part of his tax plan, Romney has proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his plan, Mitt Romney has promised $1 trillion more in tax cuts for the rich than there are tax benefits to close. As a result, he would have to cut popular tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions, to pay for $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires. Paying for Romney’s tax cuts would mean the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year.
Reality under President Obama: The typical middle class family has seen their taxes cut by $3,600 by President Obama over the course of his first term, and he has a detailed plan that would keep income taxes low for 98% of families and 97% of small businesses, while asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share to help create an economy built to last.
Question #2: What about that $5 trillion tax cut skewed toward the wealthiest I’ve heard about?
What he’ll say: “First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut…I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: Mitt Romney has detailed a specific tax plan that provides $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires – a combination of a 20 percent cut in individual income taxes, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, repealing the estate tax and the high-income Medicare tax, and cutting taxes for corporations by $1.1 trillion. That math is clear, but when it comes to paying for these tax cuts, Romney hasn’t specified a single loophole he’d close. Even if he eliminated every deduction for high-income taxpayers and enough loopholes to pay for his corporate tax cut, he’d still need to increase middle class taxes by $1 trillion to pay for his plan.
Reality under President Obama: President Obama has already signed $1 trillion in spending cuts as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion, while maintaining critical investments in innovation, education, and infrastructure needed to create jobs now and grow our economy in the coming decades.
Question #3: So how can you claim your tax cuts won’t result in more taxes for the middle class?
What he’ll say: “Six studies have guaranteed…that this math adds up…even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn't correct.” – Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential Debate, 10/11/12
Translation: While Romney will cite “studies” to back up his wild suggestion that he won’t raise taxes on middle-class families, independent fact checkers and journalists have noted time and time again, those so-called “studies” are actually partisan op-eds, blog posts and analyses by conservative think tanks. None have disputed the total cost of his plan or the fact that it is a large tax cut for those at the top – so none prove that he can pay for his tax plan without raising middle-class taxes. He’s trying to take statements out of context to get around the truth: he’s proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts, and even if he closes every deduction for the wealthy, he’ll still fall $1 trillion short. That means he has to either raise taxes on middle-class families or explode the deficit.
President Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night with an appeal for another four years to continue with the platform of "change" he was elected on in 2008. "If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election," Obama said.
“On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties."
“It will be a choice between two different paths for America."
“A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future."
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way – those of us who carry on his party’s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington."
“But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future. I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country – goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.”
Obama presented a clear set of achievable goals on manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit – an achievable plan that will create jobs, expand opportunity, and ensure an economy built to last.
Obama's speech may not have been the "best" speech of the convention this week, but I think there is a message there for every one of us, and the message is that he has heard our voices. If you think he hasn't heard the cries of Occupy Wall Street, listen to this speech. Goals centered around jobs, education, college tuition, and energy. The message of "Hope" and "Change" are still there, but they've been tempered by four years of the reality of money and politics in Washington, just as all of our dreams have been.
The President himself has acknowledged that there is much more to be done, and has accepted the nomination again, and stands ready to help us face our challenges.
Personally, I'd rather not hand it all over to Mitt Romney in mid-struggle and wait to see what's left of our nation when he's finished with it.
A full transcript of Obama's speech follows below the fold.
Blood flows down the face of an injured protester who was injured during clashes between supporters of Spanish coal miners and riot police as they ended a "Marcha Negra" (Black March) near the Industry Ministry in Madrid July 11, 2012 (Reuters/Paul Hanna)
At least 76 people have been injured in Madrid as clashes flared up between protesters and police, the latter using rubber bullets. Thousands of Spaniards turned out against new cuts introduced by the government.
Those injured include 33 police officers and 43 protesters – miners and their supporters.
Minor arrests have been made so far, with eight people being detained. Three of those arrested reportedly threw bricks at police, local El Pais newspaper reported. The police have confirmed that there were no miners among the arrested.
Witnesses and demonstrators claim that police started the attack without any warning.
Protesters disagree with a 63 per cent cut in subsidies to coal mining companies, major contributors to the Spanish energy market. Unions say the plan threatens 30,000 jobs and could destroy their livelihoods.
Miners, who were hiking from the north of the country for the past two weeks, have been joined by tens of thousands of Spaniards also protesting against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s tax hike.
The prime minister announced his decision to raise VAT by 3 per cent as part of the plan to trim the public budget by 65 billion euro over the next two-and-a-half years. Rajoy also declared a 3.5-billion-euro cut to local government spending.
Many protesters marched more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from mines in northern Spain.
As protesters call for more demonstrations to make their voices heard journalist and writer Miguel-Anxo Murado told RT that the government seems to underestimate the protests.