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Dollarocracy: U.S. Congressmen Refuse to Address Keystone XL Southern Half Spill Concerns

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

What's the U.S. congressional response to the safety issues with the 485-mile southern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline raised by Public Citizen's Texas office? Mostly what Simon & Garfunkel called "The Sound of Silence" in their famous song.

Keystone XL Fork in the Road: TransCanada's Houston Lateral Pipeline

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Only Barack Obama knows the fate of the northern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  But in the meantime, TransCanada is preparing the southern half of the line to open for commercial operations on January 22.

Humanity Extinct in Decades?

By Dahr Jamail

I grew up planning for my future, wondering which college I would attend, what to study, and later on, where to work, which articles to write, what my next book might be, how to pay a mortgage, and which mountaineering trip I might like to take next.

Now, I wonder about the future of our planet. During a recent visit with my eight-year-old niece and 10- and 12-year-old nephews, I stopped myself from asking them what they wanted to do when they grew up, or any of the future-oriented questions I used to ask myself. I did so because the reality of their generation may be that questions like where they will work could be replaced by: Where will they get their fresh water? What food will be available? And what parts of their country and the rest of the world will still be habitable?

A Holiday Fantasy: If I Were Emperor of the USA

By John Grant


It’s that time of the year again. Ho. Ho. Ho. There’s the urge to celebrate the Winter Solstice (AKA Christmas) with family and friends. It’s also time for end-of-the-year assessments concerning the absurdities of life in a fading empire in denial.

New "Frackademia" Report Co-Written by "Converted Climate Skeptic" Richard Muller

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The conservative UK-based Centre for Policy Studies recently published a study on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas. The skinny: it's yet another case study of "frackademia," and the co-authors have a financial stake in the upstart Chinese fracking industry.

Titled "Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking" and co-authored by Richard Muller and his daughter Elizabeth "Liz" Muller, it concludes that fracking's climate change impacts are benign, dismissing many scientific studies coming to contrary conclusions.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Richard Muller — a self-proclaimed "converted skeptic" on climate change — said he and Liz had originally thought of putting together this study "about two years ago."

"We quickly realized that natural gas could be a very big player," he said. "The reasons had to do with China and the goal of the paper is to get the environmentalists to recognize that they need to support responsible fracking."

The ongoing debate over fracking in the UK served as the impetus behind the Centre for Policy Studies — a non-profit co-founded by former right-wing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1974 — hosting this report on its website, according to Richard Muller.

"They asked for it because some environmentalists are currently opposing fracking in the UK, and they wanted us to share our perspective that fracking is not only essential for human health but its support can be justified for humanitarian purposes," he said. 

This isn't the first time Liz Muller has unapologetically sung the praises of fracking and promoted bringing the practice to China. In April, she penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled, "China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas." 

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Buys Fracking Wells In Ohio's Utica Shale

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO and Founder Aubrey McClendon is back in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") game in Ohio's Utica Shale in a big way, receiving a permit to frack five wells from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on November 26.

TransCanada Begins Injecting Oil Into Keystone XL Southern Half

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Keystone XL's southern half is one step closer to opening for business. TransCanada announced that "on Saturday, December 7, 2013, the company began to inject oil into the Gulf Coast Project pipeline as it moves closer to the start of commercial service."

Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A 1991 report tracked down by DeSmogBlog from the University of California-San Francisco's Legacy Tobacco Documents reveals that the State Policy Network (SPN) was created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), raising additional questions over both organizations' Internal Revenue Service (IRS) non-profit tax status. 

Saudi America and the State of Denial

The U.S. will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015, and be close to energy self-sufficiency in the next two decades, amid booming output from shale formations, the IEA said.   Bloomberg Nov 12

The shale oil boom delivers dollars but at what cost?

Well, I guess that means every thing will be just fine.  We'll have plenty of cheap fuel to drive gas-guzzlers and lots of walking around money from out new status as oil suppliers to the world.  We might even have enough money to fund health care, Social Security, and fix our collapsing infrastructure.   There's just one catch.  But first, here's some more good news. (Image: Phillip Taylor)

Tim Johnson of McClatchy just wrote an excellent article outlining the geopolitical implications of our new energy wealth: "Rise of Saudi America will alter globe, prolong U.S. superpower role." Nov. 28.   Rather than a slow decline from superpower status, Johnson makes the case that the rise in domestic shale oil production plus sought after U.S. oil industry services and technology will sustain the U.S. as a dominant superpower.

Dependence on Middle East oil will soon be a thing of the past.  Johnson suspects that will make disasters like the Iraq invasion, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria a thing of the past.  The shale oil boom, according to Johnson, has us fat and happy, counting our dollars from energy exports rather than bringing democracy (aka military action) to oil producing countries.   

There's just one catch 

Tar Sands' Next Frontier: Shipments on the Great Lakes

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Great Lakes, drinking water source for over 40 million North Americans, could be the next target on tar sands marketers' bullseye according to a major new report out by the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Firm with History of Spill Cover-Ups Hired to Clean Up North Dakota Oil Spill

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Tesoro Logistics — the company whose pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of fracked Bakken Shale oil in rural North Dakota in September — has hired infamous contractor Witt O'Brien's to oversee its clean-up of the biggest fracked oil spill in U.S. history.

The oil was obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the Bakken Shale basin.

US Court Denies Halt on Pipeline Set to Replace Keystone XL Northern Half

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The ever-wise Yogi Berra once quipped "It's like déjà vu all over again," a truism applicable to a recent huge decision handed down by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 

Fighting Tar Sands In New England | Asher Platts | Resistance Report Segment

Originally posted at AcronymTV

ExxonMobil plans to build a toxin-spewing export terminal on the shores of Casco Bay in Maine.

According to 350.org:
“Such a terminal would allow the flow of millions of gallons of Canadian tar sands to be transported through the region, putting our planet, our local waterways, and community health at unacceptable risk.
All evidence indicates that ExxonMobil – the majority owner of the PMPL - wants to pump toxic tar sands oil through New England and South Portland is now a crucial battle line in the fight to stop them.

Climate Change Fail

Originally posted at AcronymTV

In what should be another colossal embarrassment for the United States- recently leaked internal documents show how little our government is prepared to take responsibility for the damage done by climate change, the negative effects of which are caused by our hyper capitalist culture of consumption without consequence.

Nithin Sethi, writing at the Hindu.com reports:


Fracking Lobby’s Tax Forms: Big Bucks to Media, “Other ALECs,” Democratic PR Firms

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) - the public relations arm of the oil and gas fracking industry - has released its 2012 Internal Revenue Services (IRS) 990 form, and it's rich with eye-opening revelations, some of which we report here for the first time. 

South Koreans on Jeju Island and the Afghan Peace Volunteers say “No!” to U.S. military bases

By Hakim and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

On the 22nd of October, 2013, the Afghan Peace Volunteers ( APVs ) in Kabul, Afghanistan, had a Skype conversation with peace activists at Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea, during which they shared solidarity in saying ‘No!’ to the U.S. war apparatus in Afghanistan and South Korea.

They represent the ‘small people’ of the world, ordinary Afghans who are opposed to the establishment of nine U.S. military bases in Afghanistan through the Bilateral Security Agreement currently being negotiated, and ordinary South Koreans opposed to the construction of a Korea/U.S. naval base on Jeju Island. They understand that these bases will serve as launch pads in the ‘Asian pivot’,as tools in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020 for ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the world.

Both groups speak as and for common folk. They are not ignorant, and are certainly not terrorists. They wish for genuine security.

They care for the earth they inhabit, both Afghanistan and Jeju Island having naturally beautiful areas designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Their conversation was a time of discovering one another, and of connecting their protests to one another and to the people protests against elitist rule that are breaking out all over the world. With their unarmed voices, they were questioning the conventions of abusive power and thinking.. 

They represent the ‘faces’ and hope of a better world!

In that better world, the U.S. will no longer maintain more than 761 military bases in foreign countriesand U.S. military personnel in as many as 153 countries.

Current U.S. plans to establish one more military base on Jeju Island and at least nine more military bases in Afghanistan will add to the destruction of both the earth and civilized, human relations.

Below is a summary of their conversation.

Save Jeju Now,

resisting the construction of a U.S. military naval base

The Afghan Peace Volunteers protesting in the streets of Kabul

against the killing of two Afghan cattle-herding children by U.S./NATO forces

 

APV, Ghulam Hussein: When did the people of Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island start their struggle?

Jeju Island activist, Sung Hee:In 2007, the Republic of Korea military quietly sneaked into the village, without the knowledge of most villagers. As soon as the villagers realized the navy’s intention to build the naval base in their hometown, the villagers non-violently protested in whatever ways they could, including walking around Jeju Island in protest. A Jeju-born femalemember of the South Korean National Assembly held a 27-day hunger strike. There are about 1,900 villagers in Gangjeong Village and in a vote on August 20 that year, 94% voted in opposition to the construction of Jeju NavalBase.

 APV, Ghulam Hussein:When did the people of Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island start their struggle?

Jeju Island activist, Sung Hee:In 2007, when the U.S. military quietly established their presence on the island. The villagers walked around Jeju Island to protest the construction of a U.S. military base. A member of the South Korean Parliament held a 27-day hunger strike in protest. There are about 1900 villagers in Gangjeong Village and 94% of them are opposed to the construction of U.S. military base.

APV, Barath Khan:Have you met any resistance from the government authorities?

Jeju Island Activist, Paco:Since 2007, we’ve had more than 700 arrests, 500 court hearings, and so far, atleast 28persons have been sentenced to varying amounts of time in prison. Currently, we have a 22 year old girl on a six-month sentence in prison. Dr.Song Kang-Ho, whom you saw in the Al Jazeera video ‘A Call against Arms’, is in prison for the third time, this time since July 1st.A filmcriticis in prison for 18 months. The South Korean government does not merely consider us ordinary criminals, we are sentenced as criminals threatening national security.

APV, Barath Khan:Have the arrests and imprisonments dampened your struggle?

Jeju Island Activist, Silver: No. We are persisting with hope. I have participated in the struggle since

2012, and have observed consistent actions to resist the military base construction.

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee:We’ve had to use more and more creative ways of non-violent resistance.

APV, Abdulhai:We understand that Jeju Island has UNESCO Heritage sites. Has the UN or UNESCO protested against the military base construction?

Jeju Island Activist, Paco:UNESCOhas been evading our requests for more information. We asked for a map of the exact boundaries of the UNESCOHeritage Sites because we had conflicting information, but they wouldn’t help us.

APV, Abdulhai: Afghanistan also has UNESCO Heritage sites like Band-i-Amir in Bamiyan Province. So, Afghanistan and Jeju Island have the same struggle against militarism destroying their land and people.

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee: It is so good to know that.

Jeju Island, South Korea

designated Biosphere Reserve in 2002, World Natural Heritage in 2007 and Global Geopark in 2010,

making the sub-tropical island the only place on Earth

to receive all three UNESCO designations in the natural sciences

The Afghan Peace Volunteers at Band-i-Amir,

Afghanistan’s first National Park

and also on UNESCO’s world heritage list.

APV, Ali:Are people from other villagers in Jeju Island joining your struggle?

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee:Sadly, we haven’t had many people joining us from other villages. I’ve thought much about why this is so, and I think it may have to do with the trauma and memories of the islanders after the massacre at Jeju Island in 1938. I would expect that the decades of war in Afghanistan have also traumatized Afghans.

APV, Faiz:We also have many people who have experienced war trauma. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health has reported as many as 60% of the Afghan population having mental health problems. In 2013 till the month of September, 2500 women have committed suicide.

APV, Ali: The Afghan Peace Volunteers are mainly young. Are there many young people in your work?

Jeju Island Activist, Paco: Yes, we have people as young as 13 attending our week-long Peace Schools. We also have grandfathers and grandmothers.

APV, Abdulhai: Great, let’s arrange a conversation with the youth, the grandfathers and the grandmothers of Jeju Island!

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee : Can you tell us about the general situation in Afghanistan?

APV, Faiz: The mainstream media has generally given the impression that there would be a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2014, and that the war will wind down. There won’t be a withdrawal. The U.S. military is not withdrawing from Afghanistan.Instead, the U.S. and Afghan governments are currently negotiating the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would establish the long term presence of U.S. troops on at least nine military bases across Afghanistan, and which would grant legal immunity to U.S. soldiers.

APV, Abdulhai: The South Korean government started contributing troops to the NATO coalition in Afghanistan since 2010. If you can, please tell your government not to send any South Korea troops to Afghanistan.

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee: We will.Wow, nine U.S. military bases in Afghanistan!  

Jeju Island Activist, Paco: The young South Korean soldiers sent to Afghanistan are conscripts.

APV, Faiz: We understand that the South Korean soldiers have no choice. Likewise, U.S. soldiers need their jobs to earn a living. How difficult it is for them psychologically, doing something they’re not willing to do; 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day!

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee: How do you wish for us to support you?

APV, Abdulhai: Keep in touch with us, be our friends and give us courage. Tell others to connect with us and friends all over the world through our Global Days of Listeningprogram.

APV, Faiz: Oppose drones! Oppose weapons production!

APV, Ali : Share with us your experiences and lessons in non-violent work for peace.

APV, Abdulhai: Thank you for your work and your time in speaking with us.

Jeju Island Activist, Sung Hee:Thank you for the opportunity! Your voices and stories of hope and peace are so important. You must never lose hope. Never give up. And share your ‘face’ with the world. The world needs to see your ‘face’.

Hakim, (Dr. Teck Young Wee), is a medical doctor from Singapore who has lived for the past 12 years in Afghanistan. In Kabul, he is the mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an interethnic group of young people dedicated to finding alternatives to war. 

 

Super Typhoon Haiyan and the Climate Change Link

The scale of death and destruction is hard to wrap your head around. Several days after Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed the Philippines, we still do not have a full picture of the scale of death and destruction that lay in its wake.

Estimates put the number of dead in the city of Tacloban alone at 10,000, and scores of survivors in that city are now in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.

Trying to make sense of the disaster, many are quick to point to the man-made causes for the increase of violent weather events, like the scene that played out on Piers Morgan recently wherein Mark Hertsgaard berated Morgan for allowing a "climate denier" to speak on live television. CNN’s Morgan held his ground, insisting it is only fair to allow both sides of the debate to be aired.

Public Citizen: Dents, Holes in Keystone XL Southern Half Weeks Before Planned Startup

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is supposed to begin pumping up to 700,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day through the Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, TX route within weeks. But is it ready to operate safely?

Public Citizen has released a chilling report revealing that the 485-mile KXL southern line is plagued by dents, faulty welding, exterior damage that was patched up poorly and misshapen bends, among other troubling anomalies.

In conducting its investigative report, "Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline," Public Citizen worked on the ground to examine 250 miles of the 485 mile pipeline's route. The group and its citizen sources uncovered over 125 anomalies in that half of the line alone. These findings moved Public Citizen to conclude the southern half of the pipeline shouldn't begin service until the anomalies are taken care of, and ponders if the issues can ever be resolved sufficiently.

The Truth About Climate Change

Originally posted at AcronymTV

In what will come as a surprise to almost no one, 2012 was another record year for the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

MSNBC "Leans Forward" Into Running "Native Ads" Promoting Fracking

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Three years into its "Lean Forward" re-branding campaign, MSNBC has given new meaning to the catchphrase, leaning forward into running branded content promoting hydraulic fracturing ("fracking)

Coal Baron and Major Ken Cuccinelli Campaign Donor Sues Blogger for Defamation, Invasion of Privacy

Robert Murray, owner of the Ohio-based coal giant, Murray Energy Corporationfiled a defamation lawsuit against a prominent liberal blogger and The Huffington Post

Revealed: Never Before Seen Photos of Tesoro Fracked Oil Spill in North Dakota, Pipeline Restarted Today

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A month after over 865,200 gallons of oil spilled from Tesoro Logistics' 6-inch pipeline near Tioga, North Dakota, the cause of the leak is still largely unknown to anyone but Tesoro. The pipeline resumed operations today.

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