Archive for February, 2012

Ted Turner on Keystone…

Tar sands oil production has already created more than 50 square miles of toxic waste ponds so massive they are visible from space. Even more important, tar sands oil extraction produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil and gas, putting even greater strain on our atmosphere and oceans, which have little absorptive capacity left.

Founder of CNN, philanthropist, rancher and environmental activist Ted Turner. (photo: Louie Psihoyos/CORBIS)

Stop Keystone Pipeline Before It’s Too Late

By Ted Turner, CNN

(re-published from) Reader Supported News
04 February 12

¬†own a property in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, called the Bad River Ranch. It is a beautiful place, where we have worked very hard to restore the landscape, reintroduce native wildlife species and raise bison sustainably. But it sits about 15 miles downstream of the point where TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline would cross the Bad River, and being that close has led me to examine more closely the potential risks and benefits of a project about which I have been highly skeptical from the beginning. After careful scrutiny, I believe it is not in our national interest to pursue it.

The purpose of Keystone XL is to bring tar sands crude oil through the United States to Gulf Coast refineries. The route through the United States is actually the oil industry’s second choice: Transporting the oil west from Alberta to the Pacific Coast would be shorter and much cheaper, but Canadians concerned about environmental impacts and threats to native people’s lands are challenging that route, and with good reason. The existing and potential environmental impacts along the 2,000-mile pipeline route are profound.

In Canada, extraction of tar sands crude requires clear-cutting thousands of acres of boreal forests, diverting rivers, strip-mining, and destroying critical habitat for some of the largest populations of woodland caribou left in the world. Thirty percent of North America’s songbirds and 40% of its waterfowl rely on the wetlands and waterways of the boreal forest.

Tar sands oil production has already created more than 50 square miles of toxic waste ponds so massive they are visible from space. Even more important, tar sands oil extraction produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil and gas, putting even greater strain on our atmosphere and oceans, which have little absorptive capacity left.

Closer to home, the pipeline presents an immediate threat to drinking water for millions and to the livelihood of farmers and ranchers. To transport via pipeline, the thick tar sands crude must be mixed with toxic chemicals and then pumped at extreme temperature and pressure. This sets the stage for more pipeline failures and spills that create a highly toxic mess.

The existing Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline has spilled more than 12 times in its first 12 months of operation. In July 2010, a spill of more than 800,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude from the Enbridge pipeline contaminated more than 30 miles of water and shoreline along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. This created public health problems, threats to groundwater, widespread fish kills, and destruction of wildlife habitat, contamination that is still being cleaned up at a cost exceeding $700 million. Downstream landowners like me are thinking this is a preview of coming attractions if Keystone XL is built.

The potential for pollution of vital groundwater from the Keystone XL pipeline is even more frightening. Depending on the final route of the pipeline, spills would threaten the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the western North American region, upon which millions of people and agricultural businesses depend for drinking water, irrigation and livestock watering.

But spills anywhere along the route would threaten crucial drinking water supplies, from local and municipal drinking water wells to the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Texas, a critical water supply for drought-stricken East Texas and Houston. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the water scarcity problems in that region should understand how a sizable pipeline failure could have catastrophic consequences.

Meanwhile, the pro-pipeline lobby is pushing the public to accept Keystone XL with fuzzy promises about jobs and security. But TransCanada’s jobs claims have been widely discredited, and there is no guarantee the oil transported by the pipeline would remain in the United States for sale. An attempt in Congress to require the oil to be consumed in the United States was rejected just last week, and it has been widely detailed that Gulf Coast refineries plan to export the finished product to Europe and Latin America. How do we become more energy secure under that scenario?

Now Congress, by means of an amendment to the highway bill, is pushing to wrest decision-making control over the project from the administration, bypass final environmental review, and force approval of the pipeline before the final route has even been determined.

Congress should not be in the business of skirting the rules and ramming through a polluting project like the Keystone XL pipeline. Instead of supporting the transport of dirty tar sands oil, its focus should be on harnessing truly clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biofuels, which will create thousands of long-lasting jobs in the United States, protect our natural resources and provide true energy and water security today and for many years to come.

Ted Turner is the founder and chairman of the United Nations Foundation and the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting. He no longer plays an active role in CNN’s operations. He also founded and is the co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which seeks to reduce the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

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Where Is the Fourth Estate When You Need Them?

Barbra Streisand, (re-published from) Reader Supported News
04 February 12

It seems these days that the Republican debates have become a forum in which candidates can assert just about anything. With the right amount of aggression, they are able to avoid answering tough questions by bullying the moderator into submission (i.e. not asking strong follow up questions in order to correct the record). We know there is a certain level of theatrics in politics. The electorate assumes that candidates will embellish, evade, and even sidestep at times when asked tough questions. But the line should be drawn when candidates rewrite history in order to protect or enhance their own self-image, which isn’t based on the truth.

Americans are busy, working hard to support and provide for their families. They don’t have time to parcel out fact from fiction. They depend on the Fourth Estate to guide them and to hold individuals running for office, especially the highest office in our country, accountable. Journalists like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow knew it was their duty to know the facts and disseminate them to the public. That responsibility in today’s media world seems to be diminishing.

As I’ve watched the Republican presidential primary unfold, I’ve seen the candidates successfully deflecting answers to tough questions or misleading the public, without forceful and timely push back from the mainstream media. And we all know, the longer a lie or a half truth is allowed to simmer in the public consciousness without being refuted, the harder it is to correct misconceptions down the line.

Newt Gingrich has done this the best. He has claimed in debates and interviews that while serving as Speaker of the House, his leadership helped create 11 million new jobs, which ultimately led to the economic boom of the 1990s. He always leaves out one very important fact, however. The economic boom of the 90s would not have been possible without President Clinton. Clinton pushed for the passage of the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act, which proposed increasing taxes on the wealthiest income earners, cutting programs that weren’t working, taxing corporations at 35%, and extending the earned income tax credit. Gingrich vehemently opposed the bill and he and every one of his Republican colleagues voted against it. The deadlock was broken by then Vice President Al Gore and the bill was signed into law by President Clinton. Three years later, the economy was surging, and by the end of Clinton’s second term, when Gingrich was forced out of office by his own party, the Administration recorded a net budget surplus. It was the first time the US budget had been balanced since 1968. Given these historical facts, how does any pundit or media outlet allow Gingrich to get away with taking credit for something he worked so hard to destroy?

Also, recently in a debate moderated by Fox News analyst, Juan Williams, Gingrich was questioned about controversial remarks he had made about poverty and African Americans. Gingrich had previously said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. Juan Williams attempted to coax Gingrich into acknowledging that he was playing racial politics. To which Gingrich responded untruthfully that, “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” And there ended that portion of the debate with Gingrich receiving deafening applause from the audience, looking strong and principled. What Juan Williams failed to point out in that moment is that Barack Obama has not put anyone on food stamps. The grossly irresponsible and greedy practices of those on Wall Street, which led to the subsequent crash of the housing market, created the most severe recession our country has experienced since the Great Depression (which Obama inherited from George W. Bush when he entered office). These events, along with the continuous deregulation of our financial sector, conspired to make a record number of people eligible for government food assistance. Juan Williams completely missed this important opportunity to reveal the real truth behind Gingrich’s racist assertions.

These kinds of tactics are used frequently by candidates running for office. Journalists need to stand strong and do their job, which is to challenge candidates immediately when they are purposefully misleading the public. They should not be polite or fearful of offending someone when the truth is in question. As we continue through the primary and head toward the general election, this is crucial. Without the mainstream media’s commitment to holding candidates accountable, we have little chance of having a well-informed electorate on Election Day. And let’s look at the facts. The truth is, President Obama’s leadership on the stimulus, bringing the auto industry back from the brink of collapse, adding nearly 3.7 million private sector jobs in 23 consecutive months of job growth proves that our country is moving in the right direction. Because of the President’s policies, our economy is on the road to recovery and it’s time we start celebrating the truth.

P.S. Hooray to everyone who supported Planned Parenthood and spoke out against Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who wrongfully politicized the issue of women’s health. This week we saw how the power of grass roots activism can lead to positive change. Bravo!

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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