Archive for the ‘politics and government’ Category
we’ve learned very little, except that fighting Big Oil and especially ExxonMobil is never-ending.
It’s been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster. It’s a major reason for this blog’s existence; I’ve learned that ExxonMobil is bigger and more powerful than ever, and it’s grip on our lives is unrelenting.
ExxonMobil is an empire with it’s own set of rules; it does nothing that will weaken that empire.
A case in point from Friends of the Earth:
Despite the tragic damage to the ocean, wildlife and people, to say nothing of the score of spills since 24 March 1989, the oil industry and its supporters in Congress are pressuring the Obama administration to rescind a 40-year old ban on the export of U.S. crude oil. Lifting the ban would unleash a flood of oil tankers on our ports, significantly increasing the risk of another disaster.
“The Obama administration is turning a blind eye to the anticipated climate and environmental impacts of exporting fossil fuels like Bakken shale and Powder River Basin coal from the U.S., while at the same time touting a climate plan that claims to reduce our damaging impact here at home,” said Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth’s Oceans and vessels program director. “On top of that, the administration may actually be considering lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, which would exponentially increase climate change and the risks of more Exxon Valdez and Gulf oil spill disasters.”
An infographic, “Gateway to Extinction,” from Friends of the Earth and Healthy Planet/Healthy People details the potential threats posed by the proposed fossil fuel export terminal and pipeline projects in the Northwest. It also shows how lifting the ban would exponentially increase those threats.
Welcome to the New Year, same as the old year—in much of corporate America and the Republican Party.
A recent HBR Blog item by Peter Cappelli notes it was not all that long ago that companies worried about whether their employee practices were fair. “One of the functions of human resource departments was to advocate for the interests of employees.”
That was a long time ago in galaxy gar, far away. Shareholder activism as well as court cases sympathetic to shareholder interests have meant that the vast majority of companies pay more attention to maximizing stock prices, often at the expense of their employees. Read the rest of this entry »
The Pacific Coast Collaborative—comprising British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington—issued the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy late last month, representing an historic government and regional commitment–it covers the world’s fifth largest economy–to a comprehensive and far-reaching strategic alignment to combat climate change and promote clean energy.
Oh and by the way, President Obama issued a new Executive Order designed to encourage Americans to incorporate climate change awareness into their activities and plans, a few days later. His action this week followed up the White House’s Climate Action plan, released in June. (Check here for the White House climate action infographic.) Read the rest of this entry »
The coal industry’s plan to move millions of tons of coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to China and other Asian markets took a serious hit when Washington regulators said environmental impact reviews must consider the worldwide impact of burning the export coal in China.
A major battle surrounding the various export terminal proposals has centered on the “scope” of the environmental review process, such as whether the impact review would be limited to local port and terminal areas in the PNW region. Read the rest of this entry »
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent warning and major initiative about the impact of climate change on the city might seem like something out of a science fiction novel, maybe Flood by Stephen Baxter. But it’s not SF.
Major portions of the city could be underwater sooner than you think if actions are not taken now.
“I strongly believe we have to prepare for what scientists say is a likely scenario,” Bloomberg said at a press briefing last month at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Read the rest of this entry »
Today’s final public hearing on the proposed coal export terminal in Bellingham, WA promises to be a major happening, with thousands of red-shirted opponents primed to speak out against it.
Here’s the skinny from the Waterkeepers Alliance:
A growing coalition of Northwest residents are traveling hundreds of miles to make sure agencies understand their strong opposition to dangerous coal transport through their communities. The outcry from citizen groups across the Northwest is in response to a proposed expansion of exported coal from Powder River Wyoming to industries in China, India and the Far East. As part of its plan, the coal industry threatens to send 60 new mile-long coal trains through many rail communities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to five proposed export terminals, where the dirty carbon-based fuel will be loaded onto ships destined for Asia.
On Thursday, December 13th, in Seattle, thousands are anticipated to attend the final public hearing to weigh in on a plan to build the largest of five proposed Northwest coal terminals near Bellingham, Washington. The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, would be constructed in a wetland area adjacent to a critically important aquatic reserve, and would receive and export 48-54 million tons of coal per year.
Waterkeepers from around the Northwest are opposing the transport of coal and the construction of the terminals. In Seattle, Waterkeeper Alliance National Director Pete Nichols will join local Waterkeeper programs to attend the hearing and to represent the dozens of other Waterkeepers across the U.S. and Asia that oppose coal exports.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Whether or not the Environmental Impact Statement produced for approval of the terminal reflects the true impact of coal mining, transportation and burning, and whether or not global climate change is considered for the most dramatic proposed expansion in fossil fuel exports in years.
WHO: Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper; Matt Krogh, North Sound Baykeeper; Bart
Mihailovich, Spokane Riverkeeper and Pete Nichols, National Director with the Waterkeeper Alliance will join thousands at the Seattle hearing and hundreds at the pre-hearing rally.
WHAT: A rally and press conference followed by a public “scoping” hearing for the Federal Environmental Impact Statement.
WHEN: Thursday, December 13th
2pm – Rally and Press Conference (Freeway Park)
4pm – Public Hearing (Washington Convention Center)
WHERE: The hearing is at Washington Convention Center, Downtown Seattle, 800 Convention Place, Ballroom 6F. The rally and press conference will be at Freeway Park, which is adjacent to the Convention Center.
At the final hearing, attendees will renew calls on the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an area-wide assessment of the proposed projects and to include a thorough evaluation of the dangers of snarled traffic, emergency response delays, threats to health and safety from toxic diesel and dangerous coal dust emissions, the risks of coal train derailments and marine spills, mercury emissions deposited in the Western U.S. from increased coal burning in Asia, climate impacts of additional coal development and costs to local businesses surrounding the rail line, and those reliant upon it to maintain a thriving business.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
This is reproduced from Think Progress, by Igor Volsky. Two things – Syria is Iran’s route to the sea? (Didn’t the Mittster even look at a map while preparing for the debate?) And I really like the picture that Think Progress captured.
Enjoy, or something:
1) “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.” Romney has his geography wrong. Syria doesn’t share a border with Iran and Iran has 1,500 miles of coastline leading to the Arabian Sea. It is also able to reach the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
2) “And what I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so [in Syria], first the president saying, well we’ll let the U.N. deal with it…. Then it went to the Russians and said, let’s see if you can do something.” While Russia and China have vetoed multiple resolutions at the U.N. Security Council on Syria, the United States has also been working through the Friends of Syria group and other allies in the region. Obama’s approach “would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.”
3) “Former chief of the — Joint Chiefs of Staff said that — Admiral Mullen said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This — we have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy. We need to have as well a strong military.” If Romney is worried about the national debt, why does he want to increase military spending from 3.5 percent of GDP to 4 percent? This amounts to a $2.1 trillion increase over a ten year period that the military says it does not need and Romney has no plan to pay for it.
4) “[W]hen — when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred, for the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake.” Obama spoke out about the Revolution on June 15, 2009, just two days after post-election demonstrations began in Iran, condemning the Iranian government’s hard-handed crackdown on Iranian activists. He then reiterated his comments a day later in another press conference. Iranian activists have agreed with Obama’s approach.
5) “And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Romney’s claim that he will create 12 million jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.
6) “[W]e are going to have North American energy independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and our renewables.” Romney would actually eliminate the fuel efficiency standards that are moving the United States towards energy independence, even though his campaign plan relies on these rules to meet his goals.
7) “[W]e’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers.” Paul Ryan’s budget, which Romney has fully endorsed, calls for spending 33 percent less on “Education, training, employment, and social services” than Obama’s budget.
9) “Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education principles that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.” Education experts have faint praise for his proposals while he was governor. “His impact was inconsequential,” said Glen Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. “People viewed his proposals as political talking points, and no one took Romney seriously.”
10) “So I’d get rid of [Obamacare] from day one. To the extent humanly possible, we get that out.” Romney cannot unilaterally eliminate a bill passed by Congress and his plan to grant states waivers may also be a non-starter.
11) “Number two, we take some programs that we are doing to keep, like Medicaid, which is a program for the poor.” Medicaid isn’t just a program for the poor. While it provides health coverage for “millions of low-income children and families who lack access to the private health insurance system,” it also offers “insurance to millions of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities” and is “the nation’s largest source of coverage for long-term care, covering more than two-thirds of all nursing home residents.” Medicaid is also a key source of coverage for pregnant women.
12) “[W]e’ll take [Medicaid] for the poor and we give it to the states to run because states run these programs more efficiently.” A Congressional Budget Office analysis of Paul Ryan’s proposal to block grant Medicaid found that if federal spending for Medicaid decreased, “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” As a result, enrollees could “face more limited access to care,” higher out-of-pocket costs, and “providers could face more uncompensated care as beneficiaries lost coverage for certain benefits or lost coverage altogether.”
13) “Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…That, in my view, is making — is making our future less certain and less secure. The U.S. Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, but it is not making America less secure. The navy has actually grown in the sheer number of ships under Obama and Romney’s plans to increase shipbuilding is unrealistic. As one historian told PolitiFact, counting the number of ships or aircraft “is not a good measurement of defense strength because their capabilities have increased dramatically in recent decades.” Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’” he said.
14) “And then the president began what I have called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”
15) “And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they noticed that as well.” They haven’t noticed because it’s not true. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN, “President Obama is doing . . . more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].” “When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issues, security, I think it’s a highly satisfactory record, from an Israeli point of view,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres.
16) “And — and — we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they — they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer.” Obama hasn’t wasted time on Iran. In July 2012, Obama signed into law the most effective sanctions ever put into place against Iran, targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors. These sanctions were imposed unilaterally by the U.S. and come in addition to the four rounds of sanctions the UN has enacted since 2006. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the sanctions “very effective,” and Romney has said he would continue them if elected.
17) “I would tighten those sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil, can’t come into our ports. I imagine the E.U. would agree with us as well.” Almost no Iranian oil has come into the United States since Ronald Reagan signed an executive order in 1987 banning all U.S. imports from Iran. The nation received a small amount of oil from Iran after the first Gulf War, in 1991.
18) “I see jihadists continuing to spread, whether they’re rising or just about the same level, hard to precisely measure, but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very strong.” Obama’s policies appear to have gravely weakened al Qaeda Central, the lead arm of the organization in Pakistan and Afghanistan principally responsible for 9/11.
19) “It’s not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people.” The Romney campaign routinely touts government military spending as a way to create jobs and boost businesses.
20) “My plan to get the [auto] industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these [auto] companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy.” Romney’s plan for the auto bailout would have ensured the collapse of the auto industry. In his editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Romney advocated for letting the private sector finance the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Auto insiders, however, have said that plan was “reckless” and “pure fantasy.”
21) “Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks is great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.” Ryan’s plan, which Romney has endorsed, “could cut spending on non-defence-related research and development by 5%, or $3.2 billion, below the fiscal-year 2012 budget, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the long term, Ryan’s small-government approach would shrink funding for research and development to historically small sizes.”
22) “One is a path represented by the president, which at the end of four years would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt heading towards Greece.” The U.S. is not headed down a path like that of Greece. Greece, contrary to popular belief, had a revenue problem rather than a spending problem. While its spending was high compared to US standards — 50.4 percent of GDP compared to 38 percent of GDP in the US — its spending was average among European nations. As CAP’s Michael Linden and Sabina Dewan note, “Over the past 10 years, Greece has consistently spent less, as a share of GDP, than the European Union as a whole.” However, it generated less that 40 percent of GDP from revenue — one of the lowest rates in the EU.
23) “I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle.” Given Romney’s 844 vetoes as governor, Massachusetts legislators dispute this claim. As the New York Times has noted, “The big-ticket items that Mr. Romney proposed when he entered office in January 2003 went largely unrealized, and some that were achieved turned out to have a comparatively minor impact.”
24) “We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment, and that of our friends, we should coordinate it to make sure that we — we push back and give them more economic development.” Romney’s website promises to “Reduce Foreign Aid — Savings: $100 Million.” “Stop borrowing money from countries that oppose America’s interests in order to give it back to them in the form of foreign aid,” it says. In November of 2011, Romney said he would start foreign aid for every country “at zero” and call on them to make their case for U.S. financial assistance.