President Obama has nominated Gina McCarthy to serve as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our nation’s protector of clean air, clean water, and public health. She is a solid choice for the job.
Gina McCarthy has a long and respected career working in a bipartisan fashion to protect our environment. She has worked at the state level for Republican governors and served as assistant administrator at the EPA during the first term of the Obama administration.
In May, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted along party lines in favor of McCarthy for this position after an initial boycott of the proceedings by Republicans. Now, still other Republican members are stonewalling, placing holds on the nomination and keeping the full Senate from voting for McCarthy to take the helm at the EPA.
Many important issues remain unfinished at the EPA:
• Carbon limits need to be set for new and existing power plants.
• Coal ash needs to be regulated as the toxic pollution it is.
• Protections must be restored for every American waterway.
But, first the Senate must vote to confirm her.
It’s so nice to see him back on the floor of the House. Deem this. Deem that. You might as well deem a balanced budget or deem world piece! Watch as Rep. Alan Grayson Slams Keystone Advocates: ‘It’s Our Job to Pass Laws, Not Give Favors to Foreign Oil Corporations’
Today, the Nevada State Assembly approved SJR13, continuing the multi-year process of placing on the 2016 ballot a question to repeal Nevada’s current ban on same-sex marriage and replace it with a law granting marriage equality to all Nevadans. The same bill passed the state senate last month and now must be passed in the next legislative session in 2015 to continue the process.
Through phone calls, letters, and lobbying, you made sure your state assemblyperson knew that Nevadans stand on the side of fairness and equality.
This incredible victory is a testament to the leadership of Assemblyman James Healey and Assemblyman Elliot Anderson.
These leaders have shown what equality really means – they shared their stories, opened up their lives, and lived the values of true leadership – all to ensure that SJR13 passed.
HRC is proud to work with our legislative allies and progressive organizations on the ground in Nevada. The journey is not over. We’ll need your help to reelect those legislators who stood up for fairness and equality and to win again in the next legislative session.
Human Rights Campaign, National Field Director
P.S. There was more good news out of Carson City today when Governor Sandoval signed a law that adds gender identity and expression to Nevada’s hate crimes law.
We all hoped beyond hope that Senator Reid would fix the filibuster problem that has ground Washington to a halt. Instead, he put his trust in yet one more handshake deal with a charlatan named Mitch McConnell who broke that deal shortly after making it. As result, nominations have been held, filibustered and ground to a standstill. Unable to be confirmed, nominee after nominee has withdrawn forcing the administration to have to start over from scratch. Instead of confirming the best and brightest, rule-by-the-minority is forcing confirmation of the weakest possible progressive candidates possible.
But, good news may, and I say MAY, be on the horizon. Harry seems to be getting a bit agitated and we finally might see him go for his “nuclear” option some time in July:
“Today, Senator McConnell defended the status quo of gridlock and obstruction in Washington, saying ‘there is no real problem here.’ I could not disagree more. Senator McConnell may choose to ignore it, but the problem of gridlock in Washington is real and it needs to be fixed.
Presidents — be they Republican or Democratic — deserve to have the people working for them that they choose. The Senate’s role is to advise and consent. But Republicans have corrupted the Founders’ intent, creating an unreasonable and unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees. Due to Republican obstruction, the de facto threshold for too many nominees to be confirmed has risen from a simple majority to a super-majority of 60 votes. On judicial nominees, Republicans’ obstruction is equally unprecedented…There is no reason to delay qualified nominees for so long except delay itself, and it is little wonder we have a judicial vacancy crisis in this country.
Despite the agreement we reached in January, Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated. I want to make the Senate work again – that is my commitment.”
I certainly hope that Representative Mark Amodei and Representative Joe Heck made a call to their insurance agents and purchased personal liability insurance for Tar Sands oil spills, because today the voted FOR passage of HR3, the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that approves construction of the Keystone pipeline. That means they are complicit in enabling the eventual pollution of our land, our aquifers and our nation’s breadbasket that puts food on our tables. You think the Arkansas spill was bad? Just wait, the eventual KXL pipeline spill will be absolutely catastrophic and we need to be prepared to hold each and every representative in Congress who voted for this catastrophe accountable.
Following the House vote on HR 3, Speaker immediately put out a press release that is tantamount to pure propaganda claiming the construction of the KXL pipeline will create 10s of thousands of jobs and will swamp our gas stations with abundant supplies of cheap gas. The reality, however, is that if the KXL pipeline IS constructed, it will suck every gallon of gas they can pump out the the US down that pipeline for shipment to foreign countries, leaving us high and dry, with astronomical gas prices for the remainder of many of our lifetimes. Here’s Speaker Boehner’s press release:
House Votes to Approve Keystone Pipeline, Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs & Increase Energy SecurityPosted by Speaker Boehner Press OfficeMay 22, 2013Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today applauded House passage of the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), legislation introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that approves the Keystone pipeline and eliminates legal and regulatory barriers to its construction and the tens of thousands of jobs it will create:
“When American families hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, they’ll once again be paying the price for the Obama administration’s failed energy policy. Gas prices have nearly doubled on the president’s watch, draining family budgets and making it harder for small businesses to hire. The Northern Route Approval Act, part of Republicans’ plan for economic growth and jobs, will help families and small businesses by approving the Keystone pipeline and removing barriers that could keep it tied up in legal limbo for years.
“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to U.S. refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security, and revitalize manufacturing. The project is backed by a majority of the American people, including members of the president’s own party. Labor unions have rallied for its approval, saying it’s ‘not just a pipeline, it’s a lifeline.’ Unfortunately, after nearly five years of blocking the project, it’s a lifeline President Obama is refusing to toss American workers.
“House Republicans will continue fighting for the Keystone pipeline as part of our jobs plan that cuts red tape and unlocks more of America’s resources. It is time for the president to put his political calculations aside, work with Republicans to approve the Keystone pipeline, and advance a growth and jobs agenda that will help our economy grow and put more Americans back to work.”
But just weeks ago, we learned from Ryan Koronowski, who posted an article on ThinkProgress, that the pipeline will not create 10s of thousands of jobs, but instead, will create a measly 35 permanent jobs, a far cry from even just 1000 permanent jobs. And, to make matters worse, it will exacerbate the problems we’re experiencing with climate change. The refining process for tar sands crude (if you can really define crude as tar sands mixed in toxic proprietary solvents) will emit more carbon into the atmosphere than 51 seriously dirty coal plants. Not only that, but a series of amendments, some dealing with pipeline safety and the cost of cleaning up potential pipeline spills, were all defeated along party lines. So once again, the GOP has shown us their true colors, showing preference to corporate profits and choosing to socialize cleanup costs for the corporations.
By Ryan Koronowski on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he wasn’t touching the Keystone pipeline decision with a ten-foot pole:
“I am staying as far away from that as I can now so that when the appropriate time comes to me, I am not getting information from any place I shouldn’t be, and I am not getting engaged in the debate at a time that I shouldn’t be,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Right now, Kerry has the State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but if that is all he information he relies on, he won’t get the full picture. While he will see that the project will only bring 35 permanent jobs, which is true, he would also see almost no discussion of the pipeline’s impact on the climate. (Oddly, he will be able to read an extended discussion of climate change’s projected impacts on the construction and maintenance of the proposed pipeline.)
So where is a Secretary of State sincerely concerned about climate change to go to find the climate consequences of approving the Keystone XL pipeline? He could peruse a new report out yesterday from Oil Change International called: “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores The True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”
The report’s recommendation:
In a world constrained by the realities of climate change, the proper measure of any project’s climate impact should not be based on the assumptions inherent in a business as usual scenario that guarantees climate disaster. Instead, the State Department should base these critical decisions on whether the project makes sense in a world that is actually seeking to minimize the real dangers of climate change. On this basis, we recommend that decision-makers consider the total amount of carbon that will be released by the project into the atmosphere.
How do they back that up?
- Using industry analysis of carbon emissions from current tar sands production, the report says the pipeline will carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 every year. That’smore than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal plants.
- Both the IEA and the World Bank have said that if we want to avoid the catastrophic implications of warming the planet by more than 2 degrees C, we cannot burn any more than one-third of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves by 2050.
- U.S. oil demand has fallen by 2.25 million barrels per day, but if we want to cut emissions to hold global temperature below 2 degrees C, there are very few scenarios that include a Keystone pipeline pumping 3.3 million barrels or tar sands oil per day.
- Petcoke, which is a byproduct of the tar sands refining process, is exported for use as a coal substitute. Since petcoke is cheaper than coal, this encourages more coal burning, and therefore more carbon emissions. The State Department’s EIS does not acknowledge this.
- The pipeline’s pump stations will emit 4.4 million metric tons of CO2 each year, after 240,000 metric tons during the construction phase. This is like adding an extra U.S. coal plant. This pipeline, remember, will pump 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil every day.
- Tar sands pollute more than conventional oil — 27 million more metric tons of CO2 according to the EPA. This would be the same as 7 coal plants. Tar sands are so carbon intensive because of the way it burns, and how much energy is required to extract it. The State Department acknowledged that this will cause 17 percent more carbon emissions than regular oil.
Won’t the tar sands be extracted whether the pipeline is approved or rejected? Not so:
There are many compelling arguments against the fatalistic assertion that the tar sands will be fully exploited regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline. Other proposed pipelines also face substantial opposition in Canada and other regions of the United States. Further, increased costs associated with alternatives such as rail make it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline is far and away the industry’s first choice, and industry experts have been the first to admit this.
The State Department EIS dismisses out of hand the implications of burning the oil we’re projected to burn, saying it is business as usual. But this business is leading us to a very unusual climate future. The idea of approving the Keystone pipeline becomes more impossible as the facts become clearer. We can only hope that Secretary Kerry will stay engaged in the real debate and make the right choice for a livable climate.
[The article above, originally posted on ThinkProgress, was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.]
- Widespread Greenland Melting A Sign of Things to Come (Climate Central)
- House Votes to Approve Keystone Pipeline (Speaker Boehner Press Release)
Obama Knows the Keystone XL Pipeline Is An Export Process! (Blogging Blue)
- ‘Environmental genocide’: Native Americans quit talks over Keystone XL pipeline (rt.com)
- US House Votes to Force Approval of Keystone Pipeline (CNBC)
- Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline (NRDC)
- Canada’s government is spending millions to get you to like the Keystone pipeline (Grist)
The New Yorker | Obama must stop that evil Keystone Pipeline (Conservatives4Palin)
— by Aviva Shen on May 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm
The average CEO salary broke records in 2011 at $9.6 million — and now, that record high has been topped by 2012 salaries, which averaged out to $9.7 million. Health care and media CEOs enjoyed the highest pay, while utility CEOs had the lowest at $7.5 million. Sixty percent of CEOs got a raise last year.
Though CEO pay dropped slightly after the financial crisis, it quickly rebounded to reach new heights in 2010, 2011, and now 2012. Simultaneously, the pay gap between CEOs and workers has also broken records, as the average CEO in 2012 earned 354 times more than the average worker.
During the recession, some companies changed their compensation formulas to incorporate more stock as a way to tie executives’ salaries to the company’s performance. As the stock market enjoys all-time highs, CEO pay has also soared. Yet the stock market’s rally has not been felt by most middle and low income families, as the housing market recovers in fits and starts. As a result, income inequality has been exacerbated in the first two years of the recovery.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law tried to address this phenomenon by ordering public companies to reveal the exact disparity between their CEO and worker pay. Three years later, many big businesses are lobbying to kill the requirement in the rule-making process. Transparent payrolls can help keep executive compensation within the stratosphere and help investors get a sense of employee morale and company reputation. Even so, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon compared efforts to tamp down executive pay to Communist Cuba. Whole Foods, which tracks pay to ensure that no employee makes more than 19 times the median company salary, has dismissed claims that the rule burdens businesses, noting it only takes a few days to track.
Skewed executive compensation levels made some CEOs iconic villains after the financial crisis. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit got a $6.7 million pay-out after driving the bank to near ruin, while a Duke Energy CEO received $44 million for one day of work.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.
In a post at Think Progress last Friday, we once again learn that the REPUBLIBAN’s culture war against the LGBT community is still raging —
By Ian Millhiser on May 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Carolyn Compton is in a three year-old relationship with a woman. According to Compton’s partner Page Price, Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees their two children and was also once charged with stalking Compton, a felony, although he eventually plead to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.
And yet, thanks to a Texas judge, Compton could lose custody of her children because she has the audacity to live with the woman she loves.
According to Price, Judge John Roach, a Republican who presides over a state trial court in McKinney, Texas, placed a so-called “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers. This clause forbids Compton having a person that she is not related to “by blood or marriage” at her home past 9pm when her children are present. Since Texas will not allow Compton to marry her partner, this means that she effectively cannot live with her partner so long as she retains custody over her children. Invoking the “morality clause,” Judge Roach gave Price 30 days to move out of Compton’s home.
Compton can appeal Roach’s decision, but her appeal will be heard by the notoriouslyconservative Texas court system. Ultimately, the question of whether Compton’s relationship with Price is entitled to the same dignity accorded to any other loving couple could rest with the United States Supreme Court.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. Image credit to http://timetowrite.blogs.com
Without environmental regulations, many companies would gladly poison you to earn bigger profits.
Well, have you ever considered what our world would look like without regulations?
In the early 20th century, almost all paint contained lead. Despite many reports documenting the dangers of lead exposure, especially on children, the lead industry did nothing about it. Indeed, it responded by establishing an organization that countered bad publicity with campaigns like an ad depicting Santa Claus encouraging children to paint toys with lead paint. The companies also refused to put labels on their products warning parents not to paint toys and cribs with that toxic product.
In the 1950s, it took local and state health officials to make the case that lead paint should be banned for interior use. The lead industry fought vigorously against that ban, which we now take for granted. Without regulation, paint would still have lead in it, and our kids would still be dying and suffering from brain damage because of it.
Historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner teamed up to document this shameful tale in Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution. Their book also tracks a second case of industrial foot-dragging, which involved vinyl chloride. That’s the ever-present stuff that PVC pipes, vinyl siding, and many toys are made from. The plastics industry first learned of animal studies in Italy suggesting that vinyl chloride caused cancer in 1970, but manufacturers hid this information from the public, the government, and their own workers for several years.
When the government found out, regulators proposed that the plastics industry lower the allowed level of exposure to vinyl chloride in its factories. The industry fought that logical measure, claiming that to lower exposure to the suggested levels would cost $90 billion and result in plant closings, job losses, price increases and massive economic dislocation, Markowitz and Rosner wrote. Government regulators overrode those concerns and lowered the permissible exposure level in 1975. The industry quickly found ways to comply with this new standard for less than $300 million, and none of those dire predictions came true. Those plastics manufacturers would never have done it on their own.
The stages of industrial denial are always the same:
- X is perfectly safe.
- Well, there’s evidence that X might cause some problems, but there’s no proof, and it could be something else.
- OK, X is harmful, but it’s irreplaceable.
- Well, there’s something else we could use instead, but it would be soooo expensive to change, and it would ruin our business and everyone associated with it.
- A new product comes out that’s better and cheaper than the old one.
Whenever you hear of someone making those claims, whether it’s about fossil-fueled climate change, illness-causing fireproofing additives in furniture, pesticides suspected of making bees die off, the potentially hormone-disrupting antibacterial agents in your soap, or anything else, get skeptical.
Although there certainly are cases where chemicals suspected of being harmful ultimately prove harmless, companies almost always deny the claim that their product is dangerous.
Just remember, in a truly free market, many companies would gladly poison you to earn bigger profits. Predictions of dire consequences if we impose regulations, or benefits if we remove them, rarely come true. And anyone advocating the outright elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, as several Republican presidential candidates did in our last election, is essentially saying they want to grant corporate America a license to kill.
David Reingold, a retired chemistry professor at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, now lives in Portland, Oregon. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org) Photo credit to matthileo/Flickr
Despite formidable efforts to disenfranchise African Americans in 2012, a larger percentage of black voters than white voters turned out at the polls to assure Obama’s victory on Election Day.
By Marc Morial
It’s official: African Americans are the nation’s most important swing state.
Last summer, I predicted that the African American vote would tip the scales in the 2012 election of Barack Obama. My organization, the National Urban League, foresaw a continuation of a trend that proved to be a decisive factor in Obama’s 2008 campaign.
The Census Bureau has now confirmed our analysis. Not only did the 2012 black vote make the difference in several key swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the biggest prize of all, Ohio, but black voters turned out a higher rate than white voters.
Since 1996, black voter turnout rates have risen 13 percentage points, and the number of blacks who voted in 2012 rose by about 1.7 million over 2008. This is even more remarkable given that overall voting among eligible citizens declined last year.
This boost in turnout also demonstrates that, in the face of a widespread voter suppression campaign, a record number of blacks heeded the National Urban League’s call to “Occupy the Vote” — a campaign that reached 10 million people through traditional and social media, phone banking, and grassroots and community outreach. In fact, all Census divisions where voting rates of blacks exceeded those of whites included states that introduced major voter suppression tactics in the year leading up to the election.
While the National Urban League doesn’t endorse individual candidates, we do encourage civic engagement, and our affiliates have always played leading roles in voter registration drives. That’s why we are also pleased that African Americans registered in record numbers last year. The registration rate for blacks rose from 69.7 percent in 2008 to 73.1 percent in 2012 — the highest registration rate ever recorded.
In Ohio, where Obama won 96 percent of the African-American vote, the black registration rate was 74.4 percent. In North Carolina, a state he lost this time around, African-American registration increased from 71 percent in 2008 to 85 percent in 2012 with 80.2 percent of eligible black voters going to the polls, up from 68.1 percent four years ago.
The increase in black voter participation is a turning point for several reasons.
First, it’s clear that Mitt Romney would have eked out a victory in 2012 if voters had turned out at 2004 levels. White turnout was higher and black turnout was lower in that presidential election.
Second, due to an increase in overall minority voting, people of color will be wielding even more electoral clout in the coming years. According to the demographer William Frey, “by 2024, their vote will be essential to victory.”
Third, this demographic shift is prodding both major political parties to increase their outreach and appeal to minority voters and to reassess the impact their policies are having on those communities.
As the Associated Press put it, “The findings represent a tipping point for blacks, who for much of American history were disenfranchised and then effectively barred from voting until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.”
There’s no doubt that the opportunity to re-elect America’s first black president contributed to record black turnout last year. But, no matter who is on the ballot in 2014 and 2016, we must continue to exercise our voice and Occupy the Vote.
Marc Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League and the former mayor of New Orleans. http://www.nul.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)