By Doug Porter
A major defeat for proponents of dirty energy is in the works, as news reports indicate the Obama administration is set to block the permits needed for the Keystone XL pipeline. Construction of the project has been a political hot potato, with supporters using big-money lobbying and opponents focused on a grass-roots activist campaign.
In 2008 the Canadian company TransCanada applied for approval of a transnational pipeline designed to carry 830,000 barrels of petroleum per day from the tar sands of Alberta province to oil refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast.
Proponents point to estimates of a $3.4 billion dollar contribution to the economy and say it will create jobs. Environmental groups have opposed the project because it would provide a conduit for marketing petroleum extracted from tar sands using methods requiring far more energy and water than conventional drilling.
The State Department has permitting authority over the pipeline because it crosses an international boundary and the law requires the secretary of state to make a declaration that construction is in the national interest. The department’s environmental review suggested that, while 42,000 temporary jobs would be created during construction, only 35 of those jobs could be considered long-term.
This week TransCanada asked the government to suspend its review of the proposed project, citing a legal challenge in Nebraska that could take up to a year to resolve. Opponents declared the company was merely trying to delay the process beyond the 2016 presidential elections in hopes getting a more favorably inclined administration.
From the Associated Press:
Ahead of TransCanada’s request, Keystone supporters had feared Obama would seize on a brief window between Canada’s recent elections and the conclusion of global climate talks next month to kill the project in grand fashion, solidifying his environmental bona fides. Obama hopes to make a global climate pact the capstone of his environmental legacy and has sought to show aggressive action to curb carbon dioxide emissions as world leaders prepare to finalize an agreement in Paris.
It looks like the pipeline’s supporters were right.
From the Union Tribune:
White House officials said Tuesday that President Barack Obama intends to decide the fate of the Keystone XL oil pipeline during his tenure, rather than suspend the federal review process at the request of the project’s sponsor.
Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president “would like to have this determination be completed before he leaves office” and was not inclined to extend the seven-year review process even longer just because one section of the route is still awaiting approval in Nebraska….
…But Earnest’s comments suggested that the administration – which has been under serious pressure for years from environmental advocates and major Democratic supporters to block the pipeline – has come to see the project as a litmus test on the U.S. commitment to tackling climate change.
So here’s the deal…
The battle over the Keystone XL pipeline was symbolic: big oil vs. environmental activists. Ultimately this was about politics. the politics of the future. And, for now, it appears cleaner energy advocates have had their way.
Murdoch Starts by Firing the Fact Checkers
I knew the takeover of National Geographic by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox was bad news.
The main muddler of climate change science buying the foremost publication covering the planet is more than a simple financial deal. Yesterday, management sent out an email telling all its staff–even those on vacation,– all to report to their headquarters, and wait by their phones.
From the Washington Post:
The National Geographic Society of Washington will lay off about 180 of its 2,000 employees in a cost-cutting move that follows the sale of its famous magazine and other assets to a company controlled by Rupert Murdoch.
The reduction, the largest in the organization’s 127-year history, appears to affect almost every department of the nonprofit organization, including the magazine, which the society has published since just after its founding in 1888. The reduction also will affect people who work for the National Geographic Channel, the most profitable part of the organization. Several people in the channel’s fact-checking department, for example, were terminated on Tuesday, employees said…
…In addition to the layoffs and buyouts, the National Geographic Society said it would freeze its pension plan for eligible employees, eliminate medical coverage for future retirees and change its contributions to an employee 401(k) plan so that all employees receive the same percentage contribution.
A company spokesperson told the Washington Post the layoffs were not connected to the Murdoch takeover.
A House Divided
Competing ballot propositions for increasing the minimum wage are endangering chances of either being approved by the voters, according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times.
I’ll start this off by saying proponents all the way around are making statements about how they’re working on compromises to consolidate their measures. None-the-less, I’m unhappy.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California rolled out their minimum wage proposal yesterday, saying they’ll launch a drive to collect signatures starting in January, 2016.
The Raise the California Wage Act of 2016 is the only statewide initiative that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 and guarantee that every full-time worker will receive at least six days per year to care for themselves and their families. Small businesses would have until 2021 to meet the $15 per hour minimum.
From the Los Angeles Times:
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf are chairing the campaign for the SEIU-UHW proposal, which has also been endorsed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — widely considered a top contender in the 2018 governor’s race, for which he is already campaigning — and state Controller Betty Yee.
The rival proposal announced Tuesday, tentatively titled the “Raise California’s Wage and Paid Sick Days Act of 2016,” is more complex, calling for major changes to the state’s sick-leave policies. The measure would require employers to allow workers to take six paid sick days each year instead of the current three, and extend those protections for the first time to home healthcare workers.
It would also accelerate the timeline for boosting the state’s minimum wage, reaching $15 an hour in 2020 while giving businesses with 25 or fewer employees an extra year to comply. The UHW-backed proposal would raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2021 for all workers.
The single mom working at McDonalds for crap wages needs a raise. Please, just fix it.
On This Day: 1961 – Bob Dylan made his Carnegie Chapter Hall debut in New York City. The show was seen by 50 people who paid two dollars each at Carnegie Hall. 1979 – Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 63 Americans hostage (90 total hostages). They demanded that the U.S. send the former shah back to Iran to stand trial. Many hostages were later released, but 52 were held for the next 14 months. 1996 – After a struggle lasting more than two years, 6,000 Steelworkers members at Bridgestone/Firestone won a settlement in which strikers displaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The fight started when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts.
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