Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
I’ve written often about Keystone XL and I’ve talked very little about it’s environmental impact.
Not because I don’t care, but because of the lies and corruption.
Frankly it’s all a big fat lie, the biggest since Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction; time and past time to give these liars the boot.
All of them.
Drill baby, drill.
The fact is that Barack Obama and his Third Way Neo-liberal Administration embrace Big Oil/Coal/Gas/Nuclear and the Climate Death Of Our Entire Planet just as deeply as Sarah Palin Republicans.
The Party Line – November 4, 2011: Self-Styled Clean Energy President Embraces Future That’s Dirty, Dangerous, and Expensive
By: Gregg Levine, Firedog Lake
Friday November 4, 2011 10:59 am
Back in 2008, Obama the candidate seemed to understand the threat posed by global warming, and he spoke often of moving away from carbon-heavy fuel sources like tar sands. Now, a good part of what is considered the president’s “base,” it seems, understands that the transcontinental pipeline is not only a danger to farmlands and aquifers, but also a betrayal of a campaign promise.
Moving beyond the observation that this is the same “We suck less” positioning that performed so poorly for Democrats in 2010, there are indeed many questions raised by Obama’s apparent take on our energy future.
LaBolt’s claim, “The president has done more to wean us off of foreign oil and transition the nation to a clean energy economy than any other,” first begs the obvious fact-check: Alberta is not in the US, and tar sands crude is no one’s idea of clean energy. But it is not a big leap to read this statement as something more inclusive, something meant to refer to all of the Obama administration’s moves in the energy sector. Indeed, with references to clean energy, climate change and China, the Obama campaign is probably hoping for some to hear a commitment to solar power, while others might understand it as an embrace of nuclear fission.
Intent notwithstanding, administration moves have underscored the latter-a White House enraptured with nuclear power-just as events continue to lay bare the lie that US nuclear power generation could fit anywhere into a tale of clean, domestic energy advocacy.
(C)ertification with no funding, or funding with no certification-to the US federal government, it doesn’t matter. And it spells out two points in bold type: The Obama administration stands squarely behind nuclear power. . . and the marketplace does not. Without help from what the campaign would have voters believe is the all-time greatest champion of clean, green, domestic energy, new nuclear reactors would not be built in the United States.
Eleven-and-one-half-billion dollars-and that only takes TEPCO through March 2013. Who here thinks the crisis will be over by then? It almost makes Obama’s $8.33 billion loan guarantee to Southern look like a bargain.
Except that the loan guarantee is just for construction of a yet unapproved reactor design-should Southern, or whatever entity might eventually operate Plant Vogtle, experience an accident, that would likely be a whole other ball of bailout.
But what could possibly go wrong? Well, as repeatedly documented in this column, a lot. Beyond the level-7 sinkhole that is Fukushima, in the US, 2011 alone has seen manmade accidents and natural disasters that have scrammed and/or damaged more than a half-dozen reactors. And with each event, a process of shutdown, repair, inspection, authorization and startup costs time and money that does nothing to provide America with clean, safe, renewable, affordable energy.
Since the earliest days of nuclear power, that siren song has gone something like this: clean, safe, and too cheap to meter. Obviously, 2011 has proven none of that rings true, but when an administration believes it can greenwash away the political fallout from a tar sands pipeline, is it such a stretch to see them ignoring the financial and radioactive fallout of nuclear power in their attempt to package Obama as the cleanest, greenest energy president ever?
Fears of Fission Rise at Stricken Japanese Plant
By HIROKO TABUCHI, The New Yory Times
Published: November 2, 2011
TOKYO – Nuclear workers at the crippled Fukushima power plant raced to inject boric acid into the plant’s No. 2 reactor early Wednesday after telltale radioactive elements were detected there, and the plant’s owner admitted for the first time that fuel deep inside three stricken reactors was probably continuing to experience bursts of fission.
“Re-criticality would produce more harmful radioactive material, and because the reactors are damaged, there would be a danger of a leak,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, whose prescient warnings about nuclear safety have won him respect in Japan.
Mr. Koide holds that the nuclear fuel at the three reactors probably melted through containments and into the ground, raising the possibility of contaminated groundwater. If much of the fuel was indeed in the ground early in the crisis, the “feed and bleed” strategy initially taken by Tokyo Electric – pumping cooling water into the reactors, producing hundreds of tons of radioactive runoff – would have done little to help.
Some experts had not expected even bursts of re-criticality to occur, because it was unlikely that the fuel would melt in just the right way – and that another ingredient, water, would be present in just the right amounts – to allow for any nuclear reaction. If episodes of fission at Fukushima were confirmed, Mr. Koide said, “our entire understanding of nuclear safety would be turned on its head.”
But ek you say, that only happens in 3rd world countries like Japan.
Faker of nuclear reactor records gets probation
BILL POOVEY, Associated Press
Updated 05:21 a.m., Friday, November 4, 2011
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – An electrician charged with falsifying inspection records at an unfinished nuclear reactor in Tennessee was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation and community service after he apologized for causing any nuclear fears.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian and Tennessee Valley Authority officials said at a March news conference after Correll’s arrest that the falsified records posed no harm to the public. The news came amid publicity about the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Prosecutors said he lied about measuring the diameter of cables designed to provide electric power to operate equipment, including safety systems, in the reactor containment structure at the plant in Spring City between Knoxville and Chattanooga.
And it’s such an important part of our future energy supply, not controlled by all those angry brown people.
Exclusive: IEA draft: Nuclear to fall as power demand (declines)
By Henning Gloystein, Reuters
Fri Nov 4, 2011 2:58pm EDT
“The share of nuclear power in total generation drops from 13 percent today to just 7 percent in 2035, with implications for energy security, fuel-mix diversity, spending on energy imports and energy-related CO2 emissions.”
The report said “the prospects for nuclear power are now much more uncertain than before the Fukushima nuclear accident” and that it had “greatly increased the uncertainty about the future role of nuclear power in meeting the world’s energy needs.”
The IEA report said the drop in nuclear generation caused a rise in oil- and gas-fired power generation equivalent to about 0.2 percent of global oil supplies and 0.4 percent of natural gas supplies.
“Our natural gas price assumptions have been revised downwards because of improved prospects for the commercial production of unconventional gas resources,” the IEA said.
Financial analysts shared the IEA’s view that new unconventional gas resources would cause gas prices to fall.
“The recent acceleration of discoveries and evaluation of large existing reserves of unconventional gas in countries like China is changing the cost outlook,” said Emmanuel Fages, an analyst at Societe Generale.
But he added, “The real question is at what price this gas will be marketed, as contractual frameworks lead to a high price for producers on international markets.”
Most gas is supplied via oil-indexed, long-term contracts, and the strength of oil prices is preventing gas prices from dropping despite rising resources.
“In this respect coal remains a cheaper alternative and might actually surprise by keeping a much larger share of generation than what was expected some years ago,” Fages said.
T. Boone Pickens and his fracking brigade? Also a lie.
Here Comes the Sun
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: November 6, 2011
Fracking – injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels – is an impressive technology. But it’s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.
Economics 101 tells us that an industry imposing large costs on third parties should be required to “internalize” those costs – that is, to pay for the damage it inflicts, treating that damage as a cost of production. Fracking might still be worth doing given those costs. But no industry should be held harmless from its impacts on the environment and the nation’s infrastructure.
Yet what the industry and its defenders demand is, of course, precisely that it be let off the hook for the damage it causes. Why? Because we need that energy! For example, the industry-backed organization energyfromshale.org declares that “there are only two sides in the debate: those who want our oil and natural resources developed in a safe and responsible way; and those who don’t want our oil and natural gas resources developed at all.”
So it’s worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government “pick winners,” yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner.
The good news is that, just like Occupy Wall Street, the message that our Air, Water, and Climate is being sold out by Barack Obama, his corrupt Adminstration, our D.C. “Representatives”, and the Versailles Village of Simpering Sychophantic Beltway Bootlicking Media that enables their Big Lies, is starting to gain some attention.
TransCanada Pipeline’s Opponents Urge Obama to Buck ‘Oil Power’
By Katarzyna Klimasinska, Bloomberg News
November 07, 2011, 10:05 AM EST
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) — Environmentalists opposed to TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline encircled the White House, urging President Barack Obama to reject the project even if it means overruling his own State Department.
“It will be the real test of his character, you know: Is he going to stand with people’s power, or oil power?” Bill McKibben, organizer of the demonstration, said in an interview after the rally in Washington yesterday whose sponsors said it drew as many as 12,000 people.
Activists at W.H. to protest pipeline
By ERICA MARTINSON, Politico
11/6/11 6:48 PM EST
Organizers estimated 12,000 people surrounded 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in three rings to protest TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Chants of “Yes we can! Stop the pipeline!” were audible across Lafayette Park.
Obama 2008 T-shirts and buttons were common, worn alongside “No XL” gear, designed to drive home the point that these organizers are the president’s key constituency.
“What I think this is doing is showing Obama that the environment is not the path of least resistance,” Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said.
How much of the message the president received is unclear: Obama was out golfing most of Sunday, arriving back at the White House at 4:30 p.m.
Decisions over the last six months, including September’s choice to pull back on pending EPA ozone standards, “proved to the environmental community that President Obama really can’t be trusted on environmental issues,” Pica said. “And without active political pressures, his instincts are to make the wrong decision.”
Barack Obama’s re-election may just hinge on your believing his big fat lies again, at least for a while.
Obama Banks on Disappointed Environmentalists
By Kate Andersen Brower, Bloomberg News
Nov 7, 2011 12:00 AM ET
From alternative fuels to clean air, President Barack Obama’s record is a disappointment to environmentalists, who helped get him elected and now are threatening to sit out his re-election bid in 2012.
“He’s been held hostage by Congress, but at some point I feel that the important thing is to stand up for what you believe in, and he’s not doing that,” said Rhoden Streeter, 67, who attended a White House demonstration yesterday against a proposed crude oil pipeline that would cut through six states.
Obama’s re-election campaign’s response: Where can they go?
“When Americans compare the president’s record promoting clean energy and America’s energy security to those of the leading Republican candidates,” Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, said in an e-mail statement, “there will be no question about who will continue our progress.”
A lot of college students view climate change as obviously happening and getting worse, and they see a government that can’t respond to it because of wealthy interests and big corporations and tons of lobbying,” said Stacy VanDeveer, a professor who specializes in environmental politics at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham.
Courtney Hight, 32, was among those young voters when she became one of the first volunteers to join Obama’s campaign in New Hampshire in April 2007.
“I gave my entire life in 2008, so he will not see that energy if he approves the pipeline,” said Hight, who worked at Obama’s White House Council on Environmental Quality.
During the last presidential cycle, she said she spent 19 months knocking on doors and making phone calls in New Hampshire and helped develop ways to get young voters to the polls as the Youth Vote Director for Florida.
In 2008, the San Francisco-based Sierra Club, a non-profit environmental group with 1.4 million members, mobilized 5,599 volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls for Obama, logging a collective 16,125 campaign shifts.
If Obama approves the pipeline “it will be increasingly difficult for our members to stand behind the president,” said Michael Brune, the club’s executive director.
Wendy Abrams, who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, said rallying her friends around the president will be tough.
“I probably won’t raise money like I did before because all my friends are going to bark back at me,” she said. “It’s hard to defend his record.”
So he’s going to keep right on lying until after the election.
Barack Obama’s Keystone pipeline dilemma: Why not punt?
By DARREN GOODE, Politico
11/5/11 10:38 AM EST
The problem: Obama runs the risk of disappointing either labor unions or environmental groups that went to bat for him in 2008, and he can’t really afford to have any of his previous supporters sit on the sidelines next year.
“It’s a hell of a dilemma,” said one environmentalist who believes Obama will delay a decision for a while. “Clearly it would be in his benefit not to have this as a hot potato in his reelect.”
John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Co. and now head of the Texas-based Citizens for Affordable Energy, predicts that Obama will wait until after the election to make a call on the pipeline that would run from Alberta oil sands to Texas refineries.
“It is much easier to avoid a decision than to make a decision,” Hofmeister said. “And as long as he has not made a decision, he can hold out the hope that he will one day make a decision in their favor.”
Obama won 66 percent of the under-30 voter in 2008, the biggest disparity between young voters and other age groups in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972, according to the Pew Research Center for People & the Press.
“If young people are watching and care deeply about these issues and they’re disappointed, that will affect the campaign’s ability to get those young people as involved and enthused as they were four years ago,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune told reporters recently that Obama’s decision on the pipeline would “have a very big impact” on how the nation’s largest environmental group funnels resources toward congressional races rather than the race for the White House.
Meanwhile, TransCanada is warning that failure of the Obama administration to greenlight the project soon might force the company to withdraw the project and look at other alternatives to route it through Canada and send the oil to other places like China.
Hofmeister thinks this is an empty threat because an alternative crossing all the way over to British Columbia, for example, would face the wrath of Canadian environmental and native groups.
“TransCanada, the industry, have zero leverage on this topic,” he said.
Keystone pipeline decision could be delayed until after election
By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau, The L.A. Times
November 6, 2011, 8:55 p.m.
The Obama administration is considering a move that could delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline by requiring sponsors to reduce the project’s environmental risks before it can be approved, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.
The step might put off a decision until after the 2012 election and be a way for the White House to at least temporarily avoid antagonizing either the unions that support the pipeline or the environmental activists who oppose it as President Obama gears up for his campaign.
Requiring that a new route be found to avoid the most sensitive areas, or that further steps be taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions, could help the administration out of a jam. Assessing the environmental effects of a new route, for instance, could take months.
Further delays could make the pipeline financially unfeasible for TransCanada and the companies that plan to ship crude through it. The oil industry has argued that if Keystone XL does not get a permit, TransCanada and its clients would develop the oil sands anyway and ship the crude west in a pipeline to the Pacific Coast. But environmentalists contend that there is far too much local resistance in Canada for that to occur.
“My guess is, if there is a delay, it could very well kill the pipeline of its own weight,” said John H. Adams, founding director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, at Sunday’s rally.
And that is indeed the good news, that delay and prevarication could kill Keystone economically, whether Barack likes it or not.
Keystone Pipeline debate heats up
By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post
Published: November 5
A delay could increase the costs and uncertainty associated with the $7 billion project.
TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling said Friday that the three-year review process has already imposed costs on his company, including $1.9 billion on pipe and other equipment stored in warehouses.
“The carrying costs on those are material, and we continue to incur those costs,” he said, adding that further delays beyond the end of the year could force U.S. refineries that have signed contracts with TransCanada to look at alternatives, either other sources of supply or other transport means.
A key question for the administration is how many jobs the Keystone XL project would create. TransCanada’s initial estimate of 20,000 – which it said includes 13,000 direct construction jobs and 7,000 jobs among supply manufacturers – has been widely quoted by lawmakers and presidential candidates.
Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was “one person, one year,” meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed in each of the two years would be 6,500. That brings the company’s number closer to the State Department’s; State says the project would create 5,000 to 6,000 construction jobs, a figure that was calculated by its contractor Cardno Entrix.
As for the 7,000 indirect supply chain jobs, the $1.9 billion already spent by TransCanada would reduce the number of jobs that would be created in the future. The Brixton Group, a firm working with opponents of the project, has argued that many of the indirect supply jobs would be outside the United States because about $1.7 billion worth of steel will be purchased from a Russian-owned mill in Canada.
A TransCanada statement Sept. 30 said the project would be “stimulating over 14,400 person years of employment” in Oklahoma alone. It cited a study by Ray Perryman, a Texas-based consultant to TransCanada, saying the pipeline would create “250,000 permanent jobs for U.S. workers.”
But Perryman was including a vast number of jobs far removed from the industry. Using that technique in a report on the impact of wind farms, Perryman counted jobs for dancers, choreographers and speech therapists.
“Any credible input-output model is going to include all induced effects and … some money will be spent on the arts,” Perryman said in an e-mail. “In the construction phase, this number would be minimal, given the temporary nature of the project. However, the permanent effects from lower oil prices would be somewhat larger.”
Meanwhile, the Cornell Global Labor Institute issued a study suggesting that any jobs stemming from the pipeline’s construction could be outweighed by environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region’s current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.