You are hereEnvironment
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."
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.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The Guardian has published a major investigative piece that once again exposes the scandalous ways of the right wing lobbying group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Cross-Posted from Frack the Media
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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).
Earthwise - American David Swanson, journalist, author, blogger, peace activist discusses threats to Pagan Island
- Episode title: American David Swanson, journalist, author, blogger, peace activist discusses threats to Pagan Island, Northern Marianas from the US military
- Description:Vieques Island, part of Puerto Rico, has been ravished and poisoned by incessant US military bombing and other practices, including using Depleted Uranium. Will the same happen to Pagan Island?
- Duration:0 hour(s) 26 minute(s)
- Release date: October 16 2013
- Download: mp3 version
Pagan Island is known for its beauty and rich biological diversity. As David has said, "let's take this opportunity to build a bridge between peace activism and environmental activism." By the way, the Northern Marianas have observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum, in which New Zealand plays a leading role.
Rose Braz is the Climate Campaign Director for the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. The Clean Air Cities campaign has thus far organized 72 cities, large and small, across the United States, to pass resolutions demanding that the EPA make full use of the Clean Air Act to cut the greenhouse gas pollution that is drastically changing the earth's climate. See http://CleanAirCities.org
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In a major ruling that's flown under the radar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit - based in Denver, Colorado - decided not to grant the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Future Oklahoma a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.
The Court's decision hinged on an "injury" balancing test: Would Transcanada be hurt more financially from receiving an injunction? Had it lost, it would be stuck with one until Sierra Club, et al receive a U.S. District Court decision on the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant Transcanada a Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for construction of what's now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline in February 2012.
Or would ecosystems suffer even greater and potentially incalculable damage from the 485-mile, 700,000 barrels per day pipeline crossing 2,227 streams?
In a 2-1 decision, the Court sided with Transcanada, and by extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Court ruled, "the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause Transcanada."
Commenting on the case brought by Sierra Club, et al, Judge Jerome A. Holmes and Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. - appointees of President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush, respectively - shot down the arguments sharply.
U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes; Photo Credit: The White House
Holmes and Kelly ruled that Sierra Club, et al failed to show how the pipeline will have a significant environmental impact despite the fact it's been deemed a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet" by retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen.
Construction of Keystone XL's southern half - subject of significant grassroots activism by the Tar Sands Blockade and others - is now nearly complete. Tar sands dilbit is slated to begin to flow through it in early 2014.
NWP 12: "New Normal" for Tar Sands Pipeline Approval
After protestors succeeded initially in delaying Keystone XL, Big Oil has chosen a "new normal" stealth approval method: the non-transparent NWP 12.
This avoids the more strenuous National Environmental Protection Act permitting process overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires public hearings and public comments for major federal pipeline projects. NEPA compels the EPA to take comments into account in response throughout the Environmental Impact Statement phase, allowing robust public participation in the process.
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes explained in an interview with DeSmogBlog that NWP 12 is for utility projects with up to a half an acre of stream or wetland impacts, and has never been used for tar sands pipelines before Keystone XL's southern half.
The southern half of the pipeline was approved via Executive Order by President Barack Obama in March 2012, directly after Obama gave a speech in front of a Cushing, OK pipeyard.
President Barack Obama speaks in Cushing, OK in March 2013; Photo Credit: White House
"The Corps is abusing the nationwide permit program. Nationwide permits were intended to permit categories of projects with truly minimal impacts, not tar sands oil pipelines crossing several states," said Hayes.
Utilizing tricky legal loopholes, Transcanada used NWP 12 to push through Keystone XL's southern half in February 2012, calling each half acre segment of Keystone XL's southern half a "single and complete project." The Army Corps of Engineers agreed despite the fact that Transcanada refers to the pipeline at-large as the "Gulf Coast Pipeline project."
"What the Corps is doing is artificially dividing up these massive pipelines, treating them as thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review," Hayes explained. "In this case, there were 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, so the Corps has treated the Gulf Coast Pipeline as 2,227 'single and complete projects,' each of which qualifies under NWP 12."
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes; Photo Credit: Sierra Club
Why, I asked Hayes?
"The Corps artificially treats these massive pipelines as thousands of individual projects so as to qualify under NWP 12 and avoid NEPA compliance."
NWP 12 has also been utilized by Enbridge for the Flanagan South Pipeline, a 600-mile, 600,000 barrels per day pipeline set to shuttle tar sands crude from Flanagan, IL to Cushing, OK, crossing over 2,000 streams. That pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2014, demonstrating how NWP 12 is the "new normal" way to fast-track domestic tar sands pipelines.
Dissent: Laws Violated, Economic Harm Transcanada's Fault
Perhaps the biggest irony of the Appeals Court decision is that Judges Holmes and Kelly barely grappled with the central issue of the legal challenge to begin with: using NWP 12 rather than going through the NEPA process.
"The majority opinion avoided addressing the legal questions that are central to this lawsuit - whether the Corps violated the law in permitting this pipeline - and instead it was based on how much money a delay in construction would cost TransCanada," said Hayes.
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly stayed mum about these issues, dissenting U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez - an Obama appointee - did not, pulling no punches in doing so.
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez; Photo Credit: Judgepedia
"Given the totality of the circumstances...I believe the...Gulf Coast Pipeline required a comprehensive NEPA analysis," Martínez wrote.
"There are also no specific findings in support of the Corps' conclusion that the Gulf Coast Pipeline, as a whole, would have minimal cumulative impact. The failure to consider the cumulative effects of all of the water crossings involved in the Gulf Coast Pipeline violates the terms of NWP 12, and, therefore, the approval of the use of NWP 12 for construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline violated the law."
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly grappled with the issue of water crossings - belittling the amount of water Keystone XL's southern half would cross over - Martínez said it's about much more than just water.
There is "real and signifcant harm caused by the actual construction of the pipeline, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, removing topsoil, filling wetlands, building access roads, and clearing an eighty-five foot construction right-of-way for the length of the pipeline," he stated.
Hayes agreed with this assessment, pointing to examples of things the Judges simply ignored in their assessment.
"[T]he court's balancing test ignored the host of environmental impacts associated with this pipeline, including the risks of tar sands oil spills," said Hayes.
"Remember that the 2010 tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan is still being cleaned up, and so far has cost over a billion dollars. It's a bit of a Catch-22 to say that this is all just about a few acres of wetlands loss, when the whole point of this lawsuit is that the Corps avoided analyzing any of the pipeline's environmental impacts as required by NEPA."
Lastly, Martínez put the onus on Transcanada for its economic decision-making.
"Transcanada chose to incur its economic harm by entering into contracts for services before the Gulf Coast Pipeline was approved, even in light of the controversial nature of the Pipeline," said Martínez (emphasis his).
U.S. District Court Decision Forthcoming, Activism Persists
Sierra Club, et al now await a summary judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on whether Keystone XL failed the dictates of NEPA. It's a key decision, Hayes says, because "a ruling in our favor could prevent the Corps from doing this in the future."
While they await this lower court judgment, activists continue efforts to fend off these pipeline projects.
"This decision yet again demonstrates why direct action is necessary. The permitting process for Keystone XL's southern leg was illegal, yet regulators, inspectors, Obama, and the courts are failing to do what is necessary to protect the people and ecosystems threatened by this toxic pipeline," said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesman.
"If all the branches of government are so helplessly captured by industry that they will do nothing to stave off climate change, then the people must rise up and take the defense of the environment into their own hands."
Baltimore's poorer neighborhoods have been dealing with Martin O'Malley for years and years, as I can recall from when I worked in ACORN's national office and heard all about the trouble this man was from our Maryland chapter. O'Malley, once mayor of Baltimore and now governor of Maryland, may run for president of the United States on a what's-left-of-the-left-wing-of-the-Democratic-Party kind of platform. His current and former constituents will have the usual warnings about who the newly packaged candidate has really been. Perhaps they'll be heard, although that's not usually how these things work.
One of many angles worth observing about O'Malley is his position toward the natural environment. He's been pushing for fracking and for a
coal liquid natural gas terminal on the Chesapeake Bay at Cove Point (Obama just approved it!). My friend and Baltimorean Diane Wittner says she thinks O'Malley is after campaign money "at the expense of a livable bioregion."
One of O'Malley's destructive proposals is of particular interest because of the resistance to it organized by young people. O'Malley wants to stick a giant incinerator into a poor neighborhood in Baltimore. This monstrosity, called the Energy Answers Incinerator, would be the largest trash-burning incinerator in the nation, consuming 4,000 tons of trash a day including plastic, rubber, vinyl, metal, and household waste. In violation of state law this worse-than-a-major-coal-plant pollution machine would be situated less than a mile from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary School. The incinerator would flood the air with mercury, nitric oxide, lead, dioxins, and particulate matter, producing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, respiratory problems, and -- if all the stars align -- just possibly a single uncomfortable question in a presidential "debate."
The neighborhood to be victimized, Curtis Bay, already has the highest toxic air pollution in Maryland and among the worst in the nation. Here's a map I've just made because I think people who visit Baltimore's tourist area would appreciate knowing how close this less favored area is:
Now check out this great website where I've learned about this outrage:
"For the health of our community and our children we are calling on Governor Martin O’Malley to stop the proposed trash burning incinerator from being built in Curtis Bay. If built the Energy Answers Incinerator would be the largest of its kind in the nation, producing more pollutants per hour of energy produced than the largest coal plants in Maryland. Worse still, the project is set to be built less than a mile from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary School, in violation of Maryland state regulations. It is this kind of recklessness that has led Baltimore to be ranked number one in air pollution related deaths per capita.
"Energy Answers was required to begin construction in August. While the Maryland Department of Environment investigates if they failed to do so, we are calling on Governor O’Malley to intervene and protect our children’s health and the health of our community.
"Please contact Governor O’Malley if you want to stop the nations’ largest incinerator from being built less than a mile from schools. Let him know that our community is not a dumping ground. Let him know that the Energy Answers incinerator needs to be STOPPED."
Governor’s office phone # 410.974.3901 / 1.800.811.8336
Governor O’Malley’s contact page: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/
Watch this terrific video: